AltSU scientists work with farmers to develop agribusiness digitalization in the region

26 October 2022 Department of Information and Media Communications

Scientists of Altai State University are developing recommendations for the modernization and digitalization of the steppe land use in the region. The work is carried out within the framework of the large project "Development and implementation of innovative technologies of steppe land use for the conservation, restoration and effective use of the landscape and biological diversity of steppe farmlands", included in the Priority 2030 Program.

More and more farmers are realizing the need to implement digital farming, that is, the use of innovative methods and technologies to increase yields. And in this direction, scientists from Altai State University can help them, who, together with colleagues from the Institute of the Steppe of the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Orenburg) (members of the consortium "Scientific and methodological support for the environmental safety of socio-ecological systems and sustainable development of the Greater Altai") carried out work on farms of Altai Krai.

“We have used space monitoring data. Some farms have 10 or more thousand hectares of fields. Surveying such areas "manually" is difficult and expensive. Therefore, we use high-resolution satellite images, archives for the last 20 years and see: the state of the soils of each field, the beginning of erosion, the productivity (yield) of fields, damage to crops, and water stress. The accumulation and storage of data will make it possible to track the dynamics of all processes in the fields, and the electronic format for each field provides visibility into their presentation. The field map makes it possible to maintain field passports and crop rotation of the farm, calculate the required amount of seed material, monitor equipment and determine fuel consumption and working time efficiency,” says Natalya Ovcharova, an associate professor of the Department of Botany of Altai State University, Candidate of Biological Sciences, specialist in the field of geobotany.

Based on the data obtained by scientists, task maps have been created, which farmers with the use of digital media can download directly into the operating system of the equipment working in the fields. The machines will pointwise, in accordance with the task and navigation reference, apply fertilizers in those areas where it is necessary. Such "technologies of the future" are already used in a number of farms in Altai Krai. According to farmers, expensive "smart" equipment pays off on average within two years or less, depending on the area of the farm.

Scientists from the Steppe Institute collected data on the technological equipment of farms in the region, the dynamics of bioclimatic potential, as well as the development of guidelines for agroecological and technological expertise of different levels of steppe land use. In the future, such an important task as assessing the socio-economic effect of "carbon farming" as a way of doing agricultural business will be solved. Scientists from Orenburg together with an associate professor Natalya Ovcharova visited more than 10 farms in Pospelikhinsky, Aleisky, Mikhailovsky, and Klyuchevsky districts.

Within the framework of the project, employees of the Department of Botany of AltSU laid field perennial sites and test fields in different areas of the farms-partners of the project. The main work is carried out on the farm of OOO “Zolotaya Osen” (headed by Vadim Ryabtsev) together with an agronomist Alexander Zakrevskiy.

The terrestrial phytomass of different crops was assessed - cereals, legumes, tilled crops, and perennial grasses. A geobotanical survey of natural hayfields and pastures bordering the fields was carried out. An assessment of the state of these phytosystems is given. A list of weed species of plants that are found on different farms with different processing methods (traditional, no-till) has been compiled. Productivity has been mapped according to vegetation field indices, reflecting various parameters, for example, soil moisture content, etc. All these nuances are extremely important in precision farming: differentiated fertilization, crop rotation planning, agrotechnical measures, including to slow down growth ravines, to prevent soil drying up, loss of humus, etc. Some of the fields were laid out as experimental ones for studying regenerative farming, which is in trend now.

The work was attended by students of the Department of Botany of the Institute of Biology and Biotechnology. During the summer field practice, they visited model fields, where, for example, they used an effective, but little used research method for Russia - corpological analysis, i.e., the composition of a soil seed bank. They took soil samples in the fields of different crops - up to 10 samples. These samples were washed in water, the seeds were caught, dried, and under a binocular microscope it was identified which plant each fruit belongs to. Based on the data obtained, AltSU specialists assessed the weediness of the field. Thus, farmers can prepare and, for example, carry out chemical treatment of fields from weeds in the fall.

“All the work performed within the framework of the project works for one goal – the development and implementation of innovative technologies for steppe land use, ensuring the productivity of farmland corresponding to biopotential with the preservation and restoration of the landscape and biological diversity of Altai Krai,” summed up the project manager, Head of the Department of Botany, Doctor of Biological Sciences, Professor Marina Silantyeva.

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