Precision agriculture

Implementation of remote sensing solutions for environmentally sustainable agricultural production.


Estonia has joined forces with the European Space Agency. Therefore, we have access to satellite photos where the European Space Agency receives information on the cultivation conditions of arable crop. This provides information to adopt decisions quickly and objectively and to realise these decisions either by additional fertilization or no fertilization.


The aim of the activity is to base the calculation of the nutrient need of arable crop during farming and the compilation of fertilisation maps on remote sensing data—to optimise the quantity of fertilizers for a field. The remote surveillance data is used in parallel with the soil surveillance data for a high-quality field-based analysis in the compilation of fertility maps, which enables to reduce the amount of excess nutrients to be added to the soil, where these might leach.


Estonia has joined forces with the European Space Agency. Therefore, we have access to satellite photos where the European Space Agency receives information on the cultivation conditions of arable crop. This provides information to adopt decisions quickly and objectively and to realise these decisions either by additional fertilization or no fertilization.


Cover crops

Materials : Cover crops.pdf

Elaboration of the blends of species suitable to cultivate as cover crop after main crop and of the agricultural technique suitable for its cultivation.


The soil is left without surface cover after the early arable crops. This is accompanied by the leaching of nutrients into surface water and ground water. One possibility to reduce the leaching losses is to cultivate the cover crops, which would fix the ions and water in the soil and, conclusively, would reduce the leaching. To increase the winter surface coverage, it is important to cultivate wintering cover crops, the suitability of the species is limited in our climate. Therefore, we study the wintering cover crops growing in Europe, which could be grown in Estonia as well (such as hairy fetch, winter pea, and sainfoin).


Blends compiled from different plant species offer the most possibilities, the advantages of which are the following:

  • Reduction of cultivation risks
  • Reduction of nutrient leaching
  • Increase of soil coverage (erosion reduces)
  • Enhancement of biological variety


As the dynamics of the growth rate is different for plants per species, a larger quantity of biomass is presumably possible to cultivate when it comes to blends. The results of the studies with cover crops conducted elsewhere cannot be generalized to other conditions of soil and climate. Therefore, it is necessary to study the capability of forming biomass of the cover crops in the conditions in Estonia. Moreover, the speed of the formation of the biomass of the cover crops is influenced with different inputs (biological stimulators, liquid manure, etc.).


On the basis of tests, it is ascertained if it is possible to make the biological activity of the soil and the hydro-physical characteristics of the soil more favourable for the cultivation of plants—by using specific blends of the cover crops. The effect of the cover crops on the reduction of the leaching of N and P, and it is examined which blends of the cover crops provide the biggest yield of biomass and thus maximise the input of organic matter into the soil.



Tests with cover crops this year:

  1. 17 kg hairy fetch + 3 kg bluebell + 30 kg/ha spring malt barley
  2. 5 kg Egyptian clover + 3 kg bluebell + 30 kg/ha spring malt barley
  3. 2 kg Japanese radish + 3 kg Egyptian clover + 3 kg bluebell
  4. pea 30 kg + bluebell 3 kg + buckwheat 12 kg/ha
  5. hairy fetch 10 kg+ Japanese radish 2 kg + bluebell 3 kg + Egyptian clover 2 kg/ha
  6. Egyptian clover 5 kg + oats 60 kg + bluebell 3 kg/ha
  7. hairy fetch 17 kg + winter rye 60 kg + bluebell 3 kg/ha
  8. Japanese radish 2 kg + oats (Kalle) 30kg + Egyptian clover 4 kg + Crimson clover 5 kg/ha
  9. hairy fetch 17 kg + bluebell 3 kg + buckwheat 12 kg
In addition, a test with sowing times:

3 sowing times (Aug 08, Aug 15, and Aug 28) for single crop seeding of different crops (fallow radish, Crimson clover, Egyptian clover, hairy fetch, and bluebell)


Speaking of producers, the tests are done in the field of Madis Ajaotsa: 2 different blends; both having the fertilised and unfertilised variety:

  1. pea 30 kg + bluebell 3 kg + buckwheat 25 kg/ha
  2. hairy fetch 17 kg + bluebell 3 kg + buckwheat 12 kg



Biological elimination of canola

The evaluation of innovative methods of precision crop protection on cruciferous plants.


It is important to reduce pollution in the field emanating that derives from synthetic pesticides besides the leaching of nutrients in the conditions of integrated agriculture. Also, pesticide residue in the soil damage useful organisms who would to control both the pests and the pathogens. During spraying, the used pesticide may spread from the field away to the surroundings through air by dust formed from soil particles and by water. Moreover, excessive use of pesticide brings along the resistance capability of pests against plant protection product (resistance), which causes new preparations to be put to use. These problems have in turn caused the need to design new innovative and alternative pest control methods.


Soil sensors

Receiving consistent information via soil sensors on soil humidity, temperature, and salinity and using the respective data for sustainable agricultural production.


The purpose of innovation activities is to provide a plant breeder with information on soil humidity, temperature, and salinity. The sensors are wireless and specifically meant to be installed underground. The sensors are able to transmit data through soil, clay, ice, snow and even stones, reaching 4 metres deep underground.


The sensors enable to obtain information on soil conditions after every 20 minutes, 24 hours a day, and 365 days a year, which makes it possible for agricultural producers to make informed decisions and act sustainably. In the future, it will be possible to connect the data with a GIS server.


Partnerid: Soil Scout OY ja Eesti Maaülikool
Teadlased: Jussi Sirkiä, Johannes Tiusanen ja Alar Astover

Mulla andurite prototüübid arendati Eesti maaelu arengukava 2014–2020 meetme 16 „Koostöö“ raames. Innovatsioonitegevuse eelarve oli 60 000€ ja periood 06.03.2017 – 20.06.2020.

Final report.pdf