Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. Researcher Ahmad Khalilian at the Edisto Research and Development Center and Phillip Williams are using nitrogen sensors to dramatically reduce applications of that fertilizer without having any reduction in crop yields, saving farmers money and protecting the environment. He measures the nitrogen content of plants growing in a small, nitrogen rich test plot to determine the optimum level in plant tissues.
That data provides a base measurement to determine when a large field of cotton, an important cash crop for South Carolina farmers, might or might not need additional nitrogen fertilizer applied as side dressing during the growing season. They determine the nutrient content of plants in the field with a hand-held optical sensor and determine if and how much extra nitrogen is necessary. The next step is expanding this research to the production of corn, and designing a smartphone app!