With this award, the Society for Crop Sciences (GPW) honors outstanding scientific quality and introduces young scientists to a wider public. The importance of current crop production research is thus to be discussed within the GPW. Young scientists in the field of plant production sciences are eligible to apply, provided they are currently working as doctoral students or if their dissertation is essentially completed but was not defended earlier than 2021. The prize is endowed with €2,500.
Arable soils: big differences within a field
The properties of arable soils differ within a field, for example in terms of soil texture or water and nutrient storage capacity. The extent of these differences depends on the location. As a result, the yield potential, biomass and yield formation as well as the N uptake of crops on arable land vary.
In his dissertation, Dr. Martin Mittermayer analyzed 18 arable fields in different soil-climate zones in southern Germany. The areas differed in terms of field size, soil properties (e.g. soil texture and humus content), climatic conditions and long-term use (crop rotation, organic and/or mineral fertilization). In his work, he designed the methodology of site-specific N balancing based on digital technologies to determine nitrate risk areas and subjected it to a practical test.
Results can improve ecology and economic efficiency
The results show that not only yields but also nitrogen losses vary greatly within arable land. With the help of digital technologies such as satellite data, it is possible to identify zones with a high N loss potential. Site-specific N balancing identified zones with high N loss potential (N balance up to over 100 kg ha-1), even if the N balances in the field average were almost balanced. "Modern technologies enable site-specific N balancing at a high spatial resolution. They can be used to reduce environmentally relevant nitrogen emissions such as nixous oxide or nitrate," emphasizes Dr. Martin Mittermayer.
Various areas of application are emerging for the digital analysis of soil and plant parameters as well as site-specific N balancing:
- Site-specific fertilization in consideration of yield zones
- Extensification and conversion of arable land into grassland, creation of buffer strips on areas particularly at risk of leaching, e.g. in drinking water catchment areas
- Division of heterogeneous arable land into homogeneous sub-areas and management zones, for example adapted measures for soil compaction