Technology use leads farming trends in 2015
AUSTRALIAN farmers are leading the world in adopting precision agriculture technology. Take-up has been consistent across all states, and while up to 80 per cent of broadacre farmers use it, it's not just for large grain growers with large units — horticulturists, fruit, vegetable and sugar-cane farmers are also taking advantage of precision agriculture technology, having it professionally fitted to their 60-100 horsepower tractors. Case IH Regional Marketing Manager for Precision Solutions Rob Johnson says precision agriculture has been steadily adopted across the country, with no particular regional drivers. He also says he's noticed two particular trends in 2015. “While the initial adoption of precision agriculture was in spraying, now its use for spreading fertilizer and sowing has grown too,” he said. “We've seen growth of 20pc this year of Australian farmers adopting solutions for rate and section control. This is when during sowing you can switch your implement on or off as you pass over a certain area, thus reducing input costs. There's a constant focus by farmers towards higher efficiency, and precision agriculture is certainly one tool to achieve that.” The second trend Mr Johnson has noticed is increased accuracy in placement. “Compared with previous years, there's been a 30pc increase in Australian farmers this year adopting RTK with 2.5-centimetre accuracy. ‘RTK' stands for ‘Real Time Kinematic' satellite navigation, and it boosts the precision of position data that comes from satellite-based positioning systems, such as those used in precision agriculture,” Mr Johnson said. “Case IH was an innovator to access the GLONASS Russian satellite constellation, so our customers can now access a higher number of satellites in the southern hemisphere. This accessibility is a standard feature in the Case IH 372 AFS receivers.” Sugar mills along the east coast have a co-operative RTK network, helping all farmers in the region be more productive in planting and harvesting. “The technology is here to make growers' lives easier and simpler, and manufacturers are integrating it into products. The ability these technologies and innovations give farmers to control and improve accuracy optimises inputs, so maximises productivity and yields.” Mr Johnson said there are a couple of reasons driving Australian farmers' strong uptake of innovations and technology in 2015. “Australian farmers tend to be early adopters of new technology, and on top of that, there have been big offers from manufacturers this year — in finance as well as new technology — so we can certainly attribute this support to at least some of the increased adoption, by helping to make technologically advanced products more affordable,” he said. “Having data and support for your decision making from that data is the future for efficient farmers. What's coming up from Case IH next is connectivity. The interaction of data to help with decision making is the next frontier, giving the ability to share on-farm data with trusted associates like your Case IH dealer or agronomist. That technology from Case IH is very close.” Mr Johnson said Case IH is an international leader in innovation, yet local experts at the heart of Australian farming needs, with dealers providing global agriculture knowledge and home-grown support for all machinery requirements.