A series of farmer case studies developed by the Society of Precision Agriculture Australia will test the adage that farmers often learn best from other farmers.
Supported through funding by the South Australian Grain Industry Trust Fund and produced by AgCommunicators and Lightning Designs, the case studies aim to drive practice change by showcasing the successful adoption of precision agriculture by leading farmers.
An independent farming systems group, SPAA has over 2000 members from across Australia and focuses on driving research, development and extension that delivers on-ground benefits to farmers.
SPAA executive officer Dr Nicole Dimos said the case studies included profiles of the farmers, top tips for other farmers and explored how adoption of precision agriculture had driven profit on their farms.
Warnertown, SA, farmers Brendan and Denise Johns said in their case study that using maps to zone paddocks so they could be managed to their unique needs was their top tip, however optical spraying had delivered the best return on investment.
"We purchased a second-hand Weedseeker in 2017. We are seeing massive savings with that of up to 90 per cent in chemicals," they said.
"That machine has the best rate of return for any precision agriculture equipment we've purchased and has provided the quickest return on investment."
Mudamuckla, Eyre Peninsula, SA, grower Peter Kuhlmann's case study delves into efficiency gains delivered by precision agriculture, along with the value of on-farm trials.
"It's all about efficiency; precision ag technology allows us to put product where it is needed most, whether that be seed, fertiliser or pesticides," he said.
"In our environment where soil types are so variable across the farm, technology such as auto-steer and variable rate are no-brainers.
"There are a number of benefits in re-directing fertiliser or higher rates of seed to where it is most needed in order to maximise yield."
Mr Kuhlmann said in the early days of adopting variable rate he set up on-farm trials to determine the most cost-effective levels of seed and fertiliser inputs, which would then be used to set a paddock's nutrient baseline.
"Starting in the 2019 season we are taking part in a Grains Research and Development Corporation-funded soil testing trial which utilises different fertiliser rates on three different paddocks," he said.
"These results will add to my database and I may need to adjust my fertiliser strategy."
Dr Dimos said the case studies were available on the SPAA website, with more being produced over the next 18 months.
Dr Dimos said growers and members of the precision agriculture sector were invited to attend the 2019 Precision Agriculture Symposium, which would be in Launceston, Tasmania, on Monday and Tuesday, September 9 and 10, 2019.
Dr Dimos said the event was a joint initiative of SPAA and the Precision Ag Lab, and would be the first time the symposium had been held in Tasmania.
"This year promises to be a fantastic showcase of innovation and ag technology across several agricultural sectors," she said.
"The Precision Agriculture Symposium will highlight the innovative spirit of growers, and the technical advances of industry partners, investors and sponsors."
*Tickets at www.spaa.com.au
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