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The smart slurry injector: reducing soil compaction and optimizing return

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How do you fertilize a piece of land more efficiently? Dutch family business Cerfontaine, which specializes in arable farming, is trying out a new approach.

Their aim is to improve output and save on time, fuel and fertilizer. But, as the team has found out, these are not the only benefits that come with adopting smarter processes.

A more insightful process

With a new guidance system on its Vervaet slurry injector, Cerfontaine is able to minimize overlap and therefore operate the machinery more efficiently.

How did they arrive at this decision?

“We were initially looking into the best way to measure onion yields. That’s how we became acquainted with Topcon. From there, we decided to introduce Topcon consoles onto our slurry injector as well,” says Daniël Cerfontaine, CEO.

The use of Topcon’s technology allows the company to provide more insights to its customers. “By working with this console and TAP (Topcon Agriculture Platform), it’s easier for us to inform our customers on how the work was done and how much manure ended up where. We can also provide exact measurements of the surface. All of this makes the process a lot easier.”

“It is now easier for us to inform our customers on how the work was done.”

Daniël Cerfontaine, CEO at Cerfontaine

Good for the land’s fertility

One crucial difference compared to Cerfontaine’s previous way of working is that the slurry injector no longer needs to do one lap around a particular parcel of land before work starts. This was done to estimate how much fertilizer, slurry and chemicals would be required, but with the foresight given by TAP, this process is now obsolete.

Now, it’s possible to know the required amount of product before starting any work, because of the field boundaries and prescription maps available. This enables work to be carried out more accurately and reduces fatigue for the operators.

“On your console, you can see the lines you should follow,” says Bruce, who operates the slurry injector. “Once you’ve navigated onto a line, the steering system follows it automatically. At the end, you turn around and find the next line. It does make the job easier.”

Due to this more efficient approach, soil compaction is reduced, which in turn benefits the parcel’s fertility.

“We want to use the data we gather to make better decisions.”

Daniël Cerfontaine

Growing wiser

“Vervaet is an important Dutch manufacturer that helps many farmers work more effectively,” says Tim van der Leck, a digital agriculture specialist at Topcon. “With Cerfontaine, we were able to equip a Vervaet machine with our automatic guidance system for the first time. It’s important to make sure it runs smoothly and everything communicates properly. For instance, the machine collects data, and this is sent to our cloud environment, which can be accessed by Cerfontaine. This is vital information in order to learn how to work even more efficiently.”

The machine can also easily communicate with support teams at Topcon while on the job. Operator Bruce is enthusiastic about the possibility of remote support. “When I’m driving, Topcon can remotely log into my system. They can see what I’m about to do; I can see what they suggest. It works perfectly.”

Based on the data that is gathered on the Topcon Agriculture Platform, the machine can be optimized. This means Cerfontaine will benefit from it in future projects as well, and can keep maximizing their return. As CEO Daniël Cerfontaine summarizes: “In the future, we hope to use all the data we gather to grow wiser and make better decisions in agriculture.”