Ground Cover Supplement : GC Supplement - Precision Agriculture 2005
GROUND COVER PRECISION AGRICULTURE 21 Growers at Gatton reported respons- es in soil health (compaction repair and increased biological activity) occurred after one season of CTF, across a range of soil types. Papers by growers and researchers all pointed towards valuable outcomes from combining CTF and IRA including: ¢The data quality from yield monitors in CTF systems is optimised with full combs, hard wheel tracks and accurate layouts. Yield monitoring is an impor- tant measure of farm performance and paddock variability. Growers should yield monitor and should demand that their suppliers and advisers interpret and value add to the data. Anyone not recording in-paddock yield vari- ations is missing valuable agronomic feedback that can be used to improve crop management and farm financial performance. ¢Each yield map provides information on crop response to seasonal, resource and management inputs. Enormous opportunities are lost when growers can only store yield maps while waiting for help to interpret them. Most value is gained when growers and consultants review yield maps together to identify responses and remove the "unusual". Every grower knows of activities that had unintended impacts on yield. ¢Yield mapping, like all new technol- ogy, has its problems, but these will be overcome when growers value the data and demand that technology suppliers deliver reliable, quality products, and services to clean, store and interpret the data. ¢Topographic information is the key driver of paddock layout design and optimum resource management. One consequence of soil compaction is increased waterlogging, runoff and ero- sion. Layouts to remove excess surface water quickly and safely are essential. As other constraints are managed by CTF, waterlogging is becoming more obvious. Waterlogging is a major crea- tor of variability in space and time across the grains industry, but can be managed. ¢Topography also strongly reflects soil type differences, and wind and sunlight impacts. It is very valuable informa- tion. ¢GPS, remote sensing, automatic moni- toring and GIS are being used in CTF systems to analyse performance and plan future developments and manage- ment. These enable growers to auto- matically or remotely measure their cropping performance with little extra effort and provide a wealth of data that can impact on farm, paddock and machinery design and management, and improve decision making and mar- keting. Satellite imagery is a key tool for farm record keeping. ¢Satellite imagery is spatially accurate, digital and includes infra-red imaging that highlights plant growth responses. High-resolution satellites are provid- ing information at a scale that allows impacts and causes to be clearly identi- fied. If you do not measure, you cannot manage. ¢High-resolution satellite imagery has been used to accurately map and meas- ure soil types, waterlogging, soil com- paction, weeds, pests, diseases, pad- dock shapes, rock heaps and trees, trial responses, fertiliser spreading and other management inputs. In our experience, most paddock variability is caused by management. ¢High-resolution imagery is particular- ly valuable because it produces better information and better understanding of what is causing variability in the pad- dock. This leads to better decisions. ¢In most situations a combination of topography (five to 10 centimetre con- tours), one-metre resolution satellite imagery and yield monitoring will pro- vide the data needed to maximise farm performance. ¢Growers aiming to maximise the profit- ability of their cropping program should focus on how to increase production, not on saving input costs. The cost savings happen automatically once the efficiency and accuracy of farming is improved. GPS and auto-steer is at present sold mainly for the benefits of reduced driver fatigue, less overlap and night operations, but the high level of accuracy in a well- designed 2cm GPS CTF system can also drive higher productivity. Higher yield potentials follow from reducing soil degradation and improving timeliness and management. And it is whole-farm performance that counts, not just the best paddock. The conference discussed CTF-related standards. Three-metre wheel tracks with up to 500mm tyres or tracks and 9m equipment modules work extremely well in grains systems, because it suits the whole system. The 12m module may develop over the next few years. Cane, cotton, vegetable and raised-bed growers baulk at 3m/9m systems because 2m/8m or 2m/6m systems have been the norm. The increasing use of grain crops as part of rotations in these industries creates a challenge, when grain harvesters are typically 3m wheel track. Systems based on the 2m wheel track are needed. When all components in the system are considered, effective solutions generally become obvious. GRDC Precision Agriculture Initiative (SIP09) GRDC Research Code CTF00002 For more information: Dr Don Yule, CTF Solutions, 07 3871 0359 or 0427 113 127, email@example.com. Conference papers can be found at www.ctfsolutions.com.au Dr Don Yule: controlling traffic reveals the extent of soil compaction. PHOTO: BRAD COLLIS Figure 2: Higher resolution means better information, means better understanding, means better management decisions. From left: 25m pixel (16 values/ha), 10m pixel (100 values/ ha) and 1m pixel (10,000 values/ha).
GC Supplement - Nutrient Management 2006
GC Supplement - Grain Storage 2005