Junkkari is part of the LEVITOI project
Climate change is increasing the frequency of extreme weather events, such as droughts and periods of heavy rainfall. The LEVITOI project is looking for ways to improve agriculture's preparedness for climate change.
For example, the project is exploring new ways to identify and manage changes to the soil caused by machinery in different climate conditions. Field tests conducted during the summer of 2022 on test areas in a field belonging to the Peltoluhta grain farm in Kauhava tested how factors such as soil subsidence, soil moisture, fertiliser quantities and fertiliser application methods affect crop health and crop yields.
Objective: grow crops successfully in all conditions
It should be possible to grow crops successfully in all conditions. The study provides valuable data on how farmers can achieve reasonable or good crop yields each season, regardless of conditions. Junkkari's R&D Manager Tarmo Kukkola considers data of the sort gathered by the study extremely important. "Unlike the Finnish term tuotekehitys, which can be literally translated as product development, its English equivalent research and development acknowledges the important role research plays in the process. The order of the words also matters: first comes research, and then you develop based on that research. This makes the product development process significantly easier and more reliable", Tarmo says.
The original subject of the study was soils with poor bearing capacity. However, droughts caused by climate change are a more significant problem when it comes to growing grain.
"At Junkkari, we refocused the study onto what kinds of technical solutions we can apply to seed drills in order to adapt to dry soils. This problem is particularly pronounced in some of the countries that import our products", Tarmo says.
Junkkari has a broad range of seed drills, and we are studying how different models affect the development of crops and crop yields. In addition to moisture and subsidence, other subjects of enquiry also include the length of the growing season, fuel consumption, nutrients in the soil before and after, rainfall, temperature during the growing season and, naturally, crop yields and quality. Due to scheduling restraints, the first test was carried out in Finland.
"Junkkari's combi drill range can be used to experiment with a wide variety of fertiliser application methods. Some of the machines also roll the soil differently. The plan is to use the results of these tests to create research tools that can be used to sow crops next spring. Because Finnish summers vary a lot and this past summer was plagued more by excessive rainfall than drought, we were not able to study dry soils. However, heavy rainfall is also one of the extreme weather events during which we need to be able to get reasonable crop yields", Tarmo says.
What did we do?
The study relied on expert Kari Alasaari. The tests were carried out in a field belonging to the Peltoluhta farm in Kauhava, where we established 12 separate test areas. Each area was 20 metres wide and 200 metres long. The areas were sown with Toria barley, some using minimum tillage and some stubble drilling.
The study tested various fertilising methods: liquid fertilisation, 30% reduced fertilisation and 35% reduced fertilisation during sowing with the reduced 35% applied later during the growing season.
The primary goal of the tests was to maximise farmers' profits, optimise fuel consumption and fertiliser costs and preserve soil moisture.
Good yields from almost all test areas despite heavy rainfall
We concluded that almost all test areas produced a good crop yield despite heavy rainfall. The uneven quality of the field affected the results, which was confirmed using satellite images from the previous year, in which the entire field had been sown using a single method.
Reducing the amount of fertiliser further is not cost-effective, even with current fertiliser prices. The area fertilised with liquid fertiliser performed poorly as a result of insufficient nitrogen, which may have been partially washed away by the heavy rainfall.
We will continue to examine the results of the tests through December. We are working to establish the causes of our growth response findings and component yields for each test area. Research will continue next spring using various new solutions. The aim is to turn the challenges presented by climate change into opportunities in varying conditions and dry conditions especially. Further results will be posted on Junkkari's website at junkkari.fi.
The LEVITOI project in a nutshell:
• The two-year project is funded by Business Finland.
• Other Finnish companies and research institutes are also involved in the project, including Sampo-Rosenlew and Nokian Tyres.
• Research into crops' growing seasons has been conducted in collaboration with the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences' (SeAMK) Ilmajoki unit. Threshing was also carried out using SeAMK's precision thresher.
• The growing season's study also resulted in two theses.