While we are waiting for the spring!

The spring work in the fields is a long time in beginning in March 2023. We have begun a little cultivation and ploughing, but the soil is still very wet; therefore, we have not been able to begin a lot of tasks – but in just a few days 😊.

Jens Bonderup Kjeldsen. AU Photo
[Translate to English:]
[Translate to English:] Foto: Jens Bonderup Kjeldsen

And what will happen at Foulumgård in 2023?

Also in this year, we have a mix of old and new experiments. Our “platforms” which consist of crop rotations that – as regards some – have been going on since the early 1990s or the mid-1990s will continue with minor changes; in addition, we have – as always – a number of minor experiments, which are put “in over” the experiments that are currently going on. One of the advantages in that is that you do not begin from scratch but have many well-documented data from previous years.

Measurements of nitrous oxide (laughing gas) are one of these activities, which continue to take up a lot of space. It will be done in close collaboration with laboratory technicians and environmental engineers here at Foulum, and it presents some extra challenges when it is not just the weather that needs to be taken into account when we plan soil processing, manure application, sowing, etc. We also need to fit it into a network of gas measurements that require the right equipment and the right people to be available on a given day. An exiting but sometimes a somewhat stressful task for everyone involved. And a spring that doesn’t quite develop the way we want it to does not make it any easier!

One of the new experiments beginning this year is the HyPErFarm project which deals with the possibility of combining agricultural production with solar cells. The project began in 2022 in a small way, but challenges with for example connection to the electricity grid have delayed it slightly (something that is also experienced at the large plants, which are being put up at present).

What is special about our test plant is that some of the panels are installed vertically in rows that are placed in a south/north direction, while the panels in the traditional plants are mounted at a slant in rows placed in an east/west direction. The idea is to place the panels at a distance of 10 metres in our case, so that we can continue to grow crops on the area. There are also plans for a similar, but much larger plant, at Flakkebjerg.

We will also begin a new experiment, “Quantification and documentation of the effect of precision fertilisation on nitrate leaching and nitrous oxide emission” where the crop in that experiment is potatoes. Vi may use the new robot for fertiliser application in that experiment😊.

This year, we again expect to have a small screening experiment with hemp (for oil production). Since 2022 the universities have been given the opportunity to conduct experiments with hemp, where we do not have to go through the arduous procedure regarding approval of cultivation as we had to do previously. In this procedure the Danish Agricultural Agency, the Danish Medicines Agency and the Danish National Police must give their approval of the experiment, and previously it has always ended up being delayed, so that we were not able to sow at the optimal time. It works well now.

Other areas covered by our experiments this year include catch crops/fallow crops, organic/conventional crop rotations, optimised biomass production for biorefining, optimisation of crops for protein extraction, reduced soil tillage/Conservation Agriculture, testing of various organic fertilisers such as “residuals” from extraction processes, decantation fluid from manure separation, etc., production of legumes for human nutrition, flower strips (the same experiment is located at Flakkebjerg), organic cattle crop rotation, observation cultivars (grain) for Tystofte and VAP/ pesticide warning areas in Silstrup and Tylstrup.

Last year an “Agrointelli Robotti” field robot was purchased for Foulumgård. It is almost identical to the one which has been used at Flakkebjerg for a couple of years. Last year we used to getting to know it, and as of this year we intend to use it in several of our experiments.

The semifield facility has recently been updated with new mobile roofs, and we have renovated the irrigation equipment, so that we now are ready to begin new experiments. This year there will be – among other experiments – be potato experiments in the basin facilities where irrigation will be an important parameter.

In the past year, the generational change at Foulumgård has also been underway. Arne Grud and Erling Nielsen have retired; on the other hand, we have engaged Morten Øster Høstgaard and Jacob Thomassen as new staff.

The generational change for some of our machines is also underway. I would like to mention our soil sampler as it is often borrowed by employees outside Foulumgård. Our old loyal Geonor “drilling rig” from the 1990s will be replaced by a new Wintex MCL3, which we hope will be available at the beginning of April. At the same time we are changing vehicle from the Gator, which then will be allowed to be live on as an “ordinary” field UTV, to a new Can Am UTV. The new one has approx. identical dimensions, so that it can be used in the same places as the Gator. On the other hand, the new Wintex has a 2-metre tower, so it will be easier to take the deep the soil samples.  

We are still working on a better solution for removing soil columns for root determination. We need a solution with a more powerful tower and hydraulic hammer; neither the old Geonor nor the new Wintex are designed for this tough task!

We are trying to keep our list of links to websites for our experiments updated on Foulumgård’s website: https://agro.au.dk/profil/faciliteter/foulum

So, with a mixture of “old” and new experiments, we look forward to another challenging and exciting growing season at Foulumgård.