Akkerweb: A Platform for Precision Farming Data, Science, and Practice

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperAcademic

Abstract

The concept of precision farming (PF) was formulated about 40 years ago and the scientific knowledge for some applications of PF in The Netherlands has been available for almost 20 years. Also, in many cases equipment is available to implement PF in practice. In spite of all this PF uptake is still limited. An important reason for the limited uptake of PF is in the challenges that must be overcome to let data flow from sensors to data storage, to combine data sources and process them into recommendations, and to send the recommendations to agricultural implements. These challenges are technical, legal, and ethical in nature. In this paper we describe how Akkerweb is used in The Netherlands to address the above challenges.Akkerweb (www.akkerweb.eu) is a web-based platform with the following functions. It provides access to external data sources such as weather,parcel boundaries, satellite, and farm management data in commercial Farm Management Information Systems. It stores geo-referenced data, including soil maps and drone imagery. It allows combining data sources and processing of data, through modules (“apps”) that are not unlike the apps on a smartphone. It generates prescription maps and other recommendations. Prescription maps can be downloaded to tractor terminals and used to implement the recommendation. Finally, the use of apps can be subject to a fee, i.e. commercial use of the platform is possible.Currently, approx. 30 apps are available on Akkerweb. We highlight three apps for potato growers. The Potato Haulm Killing app gives a recommendation for desiccant use to terminate a potato crop and leads toan average reduction in herbicide use of 38% and an increase in gross margin of 30 € ha-1. A recent development is the use of drone imagery (0.25 m) instead of the earlier satellite imagery (10 m). The late blight app makes a recommendation when to apply fungicide to control Phytophthora infestans. Recently, in response to growers’ requests, a dynamic crop growth model was added to this app to better describe re-mobilization of reserves and leaf growth immediately following the end of a drought period. Finally, the N sidedress app has recently been modified to work with drone imagery in addition to tractor-based reflectance sensors.A number of factors has contributed to the success of Akkerweb. It has been developed and is owned by a consortium consisting of Agrifirm, a farmers’ cooperative, and Wageningen University & Research. Growers were involved from the start and have a sense of ownership. This has led to trust that data stored in Akkerweb will only be used in ways that benefit the farmers. The involvement of Wageningen UR guarantees that Akkerweb recommendations are both science-based and effective. For the future, big data analysis of Akkerweb data will lead to new knowledge that is of benefit to growers; it is expected that growers will consent to their data being used because their direct involvement in Akkerweb guarantees that they contribute to setting the research agenda and remain in control of their data.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Event14th International Conference on Precision Agriculture - Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Duration: 24 Jun 20182 Jul 2018

Conference

Conference14th International Conference on Precision Agriculture
CountryCanada
CityMontreal, Quebec
Period24/06/182/07/18

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