A wide range of measuring methods are currently being developed in the field of arable farming, such as soil sensing, crop sensing and yield measuring. Precision agriculture is a relatively new development in the area of tree cultivation and cooperation is necessary to implement it in this area. The precision agriculture practice network has been set up for this purpose.
This cooperation can serve as a basis for using plant spacing, crop protection, fertiliser application and irrigation in the best possible way, resulting in a higher yield and less environmental pollution. Developments in the area of precision agriculture are taking place at a tremendous rate. New sensors enable the measurement of new parameters; these must, however, be interpreted in the correct way and then translated into the correct action on the arable field.
Tree cultivation sector important for the economyThe tree cultivation sector is not very large, but its production value is more than 700 million euros (>40k€/ha) and therefore important for Dutch economy and the position in the top sector Horticulture and Propagation Materials. We need to work together to introduce precision agriculture to tree cultivation, which calls for modified techniques and decision procedures. In tree cultivation measurements have to be taken close to the crop, for example with UAV miniature planes and/or crop sensors on the tractor or crop protection sprayer. The precision agriculture practice network provides the framework within which cooperation can take place.
A practice network consists of companies or organisations that join the members of a partnership to help realise the project goals. The companies or organisations provide knowledge, funding or labour for the project. A practice network may, for example, comprise non-profit organisations, government bodies or consultancies. Agricultural concerns, knowledge institutions and medium-sized and small business in the agro sector can also take part in practice networks.
The partnership (several agricultural concerns, either together or in combination with medium-sized and small business in the agro sector and/or knowledge institutions) apply for funding and take the initiative in starting a practice network with other parties. This partnership is the nerve centre of the practice network.