Dear Sir,

Recent reports of high nitrogen prices and tightening limits on nitrate applications mean we must better evaluate and monitor the financial returns and environmental impact of the extent and the timing of nitrogen use.

Clearly, nitrogen is an important instrument in our farmers’ toolkit, but its increasing cost and often poor efficiency is becoming a thorn in the side of our industry.

Many of the farmers we work with say, ‘if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it’. To improve efficiency and, in turn, profitability, it’s essential to understand your nitrogen state at a farm, field and crop level, and we need to measure this using the two key metrics of nitrogen uptake efficiency and nitrate leaching.

This is where new, digital technology steps in. By using these two metrics, alongside historic, current and planned management data, farmers can evaluate their farm’s leaching state and improve their practices accordingly, such as crop rotation, fertiliser application amount and timing, and incorporation of cover crops. Only a digital tool can gather together this vast array of data and interpret it accurately using trusted, scientific methodologies.

But for me, the really clever bits of what this new technology delivers are the advanced data integrations and optimisation algorithms. These use artificial intelligence and machine learning to complete this analysis in seconds, tailoring it for the farmer and making it easier to improve efficiency, make savings, as well as protect the water in their care.

There’s no doubt increasing nitrogen costs bring challenges for both farming businesses and the environment. But that’s exactly the sort of challenge distinctive digital tools solve for.

Dr Milad Toolabi
Director of AI-ML Advanced Analytics
Trinity AgTech