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Optimize your fertilizer supply


The supply of fertilizers for plant growth is essential. According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), the demand for fertilizers is forecast to grow annually on average by 2% until 2020, in particular to the demographic pressure. However, plants have a limited capacity to absorb the nutrients that are provided by the fertilizers, which means that too much fertilizers supply is useless. Moreover, inconsiderate use of fertilizers has a negative impact on the environment (e.g. algae development harming water quality), on health (e.g. contaminated drink water), and on the economic side, on farmers budget.
Consequently there is real need for a rationalized fertilizers supply, and farmers need decision-making tools. Numerical models have been developed, mainly based on large scale data such as satellite information, but they are not sufficiently precise for a use at the crop scale. On the contrary, there is a demand for very local information.

The solution provided by the Rioja demonstrator is a multiparametric sensing platform for very local soil nutrient composition monitoring. The sensing platform embeds a nitrate, a potassium and an ammonium sensor; it is connected to a lysimeter and a pump which collect local groundwater. The system can be left in the crop and send data continuously or only when the farmer needs information. If necessary, the platform has the ability to embed additional sensors such as phosphate (not developed yet)..


The development of the Rioja demonstrator required the assembly of several technological bricks, in particular the sensing platform and the lysimeter. Gateone helped by putting in relation, in particular, SDEC France and CEA-Leti which brought these two bricks. SDEC France also brought its expertise in waterground collection and advised CEA-Leti for the most adapted lysimeter model.



The need of rationalized fertilizers supply is global. Many companies provide decision-making tools based on satellite data, but at the moment there is no product on the market comparable to the Rioja demonstrator. There is a real opportunity for business development, and a value chain could be set-up: SDEC France could be interested for the commercialization of the system, and, at CEA-Leti, there is a startup project for the fabrication of the sensors.

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