Nitrogen sensor for soil sustainability

Nitrogen sensor for soil sustainability

TítuloNitrogen sensor for soil sustainability

Año: 2019-2022

Financia: European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) Climate-KIC

Consorcio: Universidad técnica de Dinamarca (DTU), Universidad de Copenhague (KU),  AgriCircle


The objective of this project is to demonstrate and implement a service for
estimation and prediction of nitrogen contents so that timing and fertilization amounts are optimized for the crops -mainly focusing on cereals. Three crop species will be assessed in different geographical locations using crop models, soil models, local weather inputs and weekly/monthly control of crop nitrogen status by satellite imaging.


Nitrogen is an essential element/nutrient required for successful growth of plants. Organic and/or inorganic fertilizers are therefore applied to the crops to maintain high yield. When organic fertilizers are applied to the soil, minerals start to dissolve and inorganic nitrogen is released and absorbed by the soil. Applied nitrogen and nitrogen made available from crop residues and mineralization of organic matter in soil is taken up by plants during the growing season, but in addition it may be lost through leaching (primarily in the NO3 form), volatilization or denitrification. If nitrate is not absorbed by plant roots, it is carried away by runoff or leaches into the soil along with water and eventually reaches the groundwater. Consuming groundwater or crops with high concentrations of nitrate has negative effects on human health. It is well established that the marginal uptake of nitrate drops when the optimal level of nitrogen level is exceeded. Prediction of the optimal level of nitrogen addition to a field or parts of a field is therefore a key issue in reduction of leaching and one of the aims in modern precision agriculture. There is a strong relationship between the amount, type and timing of N application and the degree of N leaching and leached nitrate may eventually reach groundwater.

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