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.

Work scheme


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. 

  • Reduce fertilizer usage by 20-25% which will increase farmers economic benefits
  • Reduce nitrous oxide emissions and N leaching, thus reducing global GHG emissions and local water pollution. When accurate information about current nitrogen status of the soil is at hand it is possible to have the right amount of nitrogen available at any given time. No need for uncertainty-buffer to avoid shortages. This will lead to lower washing out. It can easily mean a reduction of at least 10-15% pollution
  • Enable automated post harvesting prediction of N contents in soil
  • Reduce need of soil testing
  • Improve field operation planning by better local weather forecasts
  • Be in line with precision farming concept with generation of fertilization plan