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More efficiency in the field with precise technology

The Swiss Future Farm (SFF) in Tänikon is known for smart farming technologies in agriculture. In 2021, the focus was on field trials for corn sowing with the autonomous Fendt Xaver robot as well as for precise sugar beet sowing and mechanical weed control.

Roman Gambirasio from GVS Agrar AG and member of the SFF Operating Team addressed the question of how the growth of rapeseed plants behaves with deep phosphate fertilization to a depth of 20 cm as well as with deep loosening. The experiment showed that the formation of the root depends mainly on the type of tillage and less on the type of fertilization. The previous state of research, according to which canola benefits in root development from a deeply pre-loosened soil, was thus confirmed.

Alternatives to the use of herbicides
In organic farming, mechanical weed control is often the only way to keep unwanted grasses and herbs out of the field. Resistance, lack of active ingredients, and societal demands to reduce the use of pesticides make mechanical weed control increasingly important in the rest of agriculture as well. The SFF team started trials on mechanical weed control in silage corn in 2020 and continued the trials in 2021. A comprehensive contribution margin calculation showed that the harrow method was still economically competitive with the herbicide method in 2021, despite the very wet conditions.

Autonomous robots for corn sowing and further steps in data management
Can a seeding robot keep up with conventional seeders in corn cultivation? Nils Zehner of Swiss Future Farm asked himself this question as he considered the robotic seeding trial in corn. Grain corn was sown at different depths using the 180 kg lightweight Fendt Xaver with different ballasting. The highest yield was obtained at a standard placement depth of 5 cm and the lowest ballasting. In addition, it was found that yields in the strips sown with the robot were within the normal range for the farm. In the area of operational data management, significant organizational simplifications were brought about in 2021 by switching to a cloud solution.

Higher sugar yields thanks to lower storage
Although the cultivation of sugar beets is declining, they still play an important role on over 500 Thurgau farms. The SFF takes this fact on board and generates important findings for practice from its own trials. In the case of sugar beet, the effect of seed placement depth on yield was investigated during three years in sowing trials with the precision planting precision seed drill. The highest sugar yields were obtained on average over the trial years with a placement depth of 3.8 cm, while the standard practice placement depth of 2.5 cm produced lower yields.

Joint knowledge generation in the field of nitrogen efficiency with practitioners
In the "Smart-N" consulting project within the newly established Smart Technologies Experimental Station, the findings from the three-year trials on site-specific fertilization with sensor technology conducted by Agroscope and ETH Zurich at the Swiss Future Farm are being used to implement and further develop new measures in collaboration with practical farms. The goal is to increase nitrogen use efficiency by wheat plants and reduce nitrogen surpluses.

Despite the Corona pandemic, the SFF welcomed around 1,000 people in 2021. In addition to various technical groups, numerous guided tours and training sessions on smart farming were held for apprentices and students from agricultural and higher education institutions. Networking between SMEs, research and farmers was also promoted as part of the Food Industry Innovation Forum, which took place for the second time in Tänikon.

Media contact:
Nils Zehner, Agronomy and Farm Solutions Manager, AGCO International GmbH,, 079 538 79 81


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