Ground Cover Supplement : GC Supplement - Precision Agriculture 2005
GROUND COVER PRECISION AGRICULTURE 20 The Third Australian Controlled Traffic Farming Conference at Gatton in Queensland, in July 2005, brought together 104 leading growers from across Australia and across the grains, cane, cot- ton and vegetable industries. The confer- ence reinforced two messages: 1. controlled traffic farming (CTF) is the future for cropping industries; and 2. information-rich agriculture (IRA), which includes precision agriculture, is providing valuable tools for CTF, and CTF allows maximum use of IRA. Grower presentations at the conference stressed that 10 years' experience was enough to prove the applications, oppor- tunities and resilience of controlled traffic for future farming systems. The mistakes have been made, the les- sons learnt. It is now possible to change to CTF with confidence, and in the most cost-effective and timely ways for your farm business. "Just do it -- the basics have been identified" became a slogan of the conference. Also, experience has shown the costs of making wrong decisions during the development process. Many of these deci- sions seemed right at the time but we can now make much better decisions. "Don't muck about, do it right" -- a second confer- ence slogan. The CTF "basics" include strategic planning, farm design, paddock layout; identical wheel tracks and matched equip- ment widths (controlled traffic for all machines); zero till and best agronomy. We now need to develop new agronomy for our new, non-compacted CTF crop- ping soils. Currently available IRA technologies include yield monitors, satellite imagery, topographical surveys, aerial imagery, soil tests for nutrition, moisture and dis- ease, electromagnetic (EM) surveys and gammaradiometric (GR) surveys. These technologies are based on global position- ing systems (GPS) and provide spatially accurate, high-intensity data (hundreds to tens of thousands of data points per hectare). These data can then be analysed in geographic information systems (GIS) platforms. The aims of our project are to deter- mine which IRA technologies are valuable to growers, how they could be delivered to growers and how growers could use them. IRA technologies fit very well in CTF systems. GPS-based systems are becom- ing commonplace. But are the benefits of auto-steer optimised if you have different wheel tracks across machines or if you go round and round? Compaction from random traffic causes enormous loss of production in the grains industry. "If you can't see wheel track effects in your paddock, probably your whole paddock is compacted." All our experience with mechanised agriculture is based on degraded, compacted soils and the change to CTF is showing how large those losses are. Operations on dry soils cause less compaction but the "we always have dry harvests" story does not make sense. One wheeling is enough, and one wheeling of damp soil will destroy the repair from years of CTF. High-resolution information delivers the goods 2cm GPS, 5cm TOPOGRAPHY AND 1m SATELLITE IMAGERY DRIVE BETTER ON-FARM DECISIONS AND MANAGEMENT, WRITES DON YULE CONTROLLED TRAFFIC FARMING Figure 1: Adding layers of spatial information in a GIS suggests causes of paddock variability and management responses. Here, the 20cm topographic overlay on an aerial photo (which shows soil types) assists layout design for raised beds.
GC Supplement - Nutrient Management 2006
GC Supplement - Grain Storage 2005