NIRS and manure composition (NIMACO)

In close collaboration with SMEs technical aspects are investigated related to the application of online NIRS measurements to account for total Nitrogen and total phosphorus transfered by individual slurry transports. Online NIRS measurements might replace in future the current system of sampling and analyes following from the Dutch Fertilizer Law.


In order to account for total amounts of nutrients inputs and outputs on farm level sampling and analysis is nowadays a major instrument within the Dutch Fertilizer Law. Each truck load of animal manure exchanging from owner has to be sampled and the sample is analysed by a certified laboratory for total phosphorous and total nitrogen content. The application of Near Infra-Red Spectroscopy (NIRS) to determine the nutrient content of the manure enables online availability of nutrient information for all parties involved. In addition, NIRS technology mounted on application vehicles and combined with site specific data opens the possibility for precision farming taking into account the nutrient availability of the soil and the crop nutrient uptake and demand during the complete growing season at field or subfield (zone) level.


One of the major challenges for this project is to achieve the accuracy required by the Dutch Fertilizer Law and nowadays achieved using sampling and analysis. This might affect both the specifications of the NIRS sensors as well as the statistical methods used for data processing.

Additionally, this project challenges every stakeholder in the nutrient chain to contribute to maximum transparency. Only by this an increase acceptance of animal manure as a valuable resource of plant nutrients can be achieved. The online available information about the nutrient content of the manure can be used for a more efficient use. As such, it contributes to a better closing of the nutrient loops over the agro food production system and is an additional step towards a sustainable world.