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What is Project SENSE?

This project just makes SENSE: Sensors for Efficient Nitrogen use and Stewardship of the Environment. 

The Nebraska Corn Board has partnered to fund this ongoing research project, which demonstrates the use of sensor technology to detect nitrogen stress in the crop canopy and make real-time, in-season nitrogen fertilizer applications. This can improve the efficiency of a farming operation – making it higher yielding and more profitable, while reducing any unintentional loss of inputs.

Check out what this means for you…

Phase one demonstrated the ability to reduce nitrogen application by an average of 15% – with minimal losses in crop yield.

More than half of producers
who participated in phase one reported reducing nitrogen application on their farms.

The Results are Measurable and Significant

Efficient Nitrogen Use

Project SENSE has shown that using canopy sensors to detect nitrogen stress in the crop canopy can help producers eliminate over-application of fertilizers by an average of 15% without affecting crop yield.

It’s simple: Reducing inputs without affecting crop yield equates to higher profits at the end of the growing season.

Environmental Stewardship

Canopy sensors boost profitability – but they also help farmers protect natural resources. When over applied, nitrogen fertilizer can be unintentionally lost to the environment.

More than half of the producers who participated in phase one of Project SENSE reported reducing nitrogen application on their farms with little to no loss in crop yield. As previously noted, this study has allowed participants to reduce nitrogen application by 15% on average.

4R Nutrient Management

Right Source

Matches fertilizer
to crop needs.

Right Rate

Matches amount of
fertilizer to crop needs.

Right Time

Makes nutrients available when crops need them.

Right Place

Keeps nutrients where
crops can use them.

Applying This Research on the Farm

The “4R nutrient management” method is as follows: Right fertilizer source. Right rate. Right time. Right place. 

Project SENSE reinforces the value of this method. By calibrating the above variables with as much precision as possible, producers can maintain optimal yields – without overspending on fertilizer inputs or negatively impacting natural resources.

This study sheds new light on the value of canopy sensors, but producers can implement the “4R” method and work toward efficiency goals with or without advanced sensor technology.

On the Horizon

The SENSE 2.0 project will take the information gathered during the initial phase of this study one step further. SENSE 2.0 will employ drone sensors to detect the nitrogen needs of crops, and apply that nitrogen through fertigation

By streamlining this process, we can ensure that nitrogen application via pivots is as efficient as possible.