Get­ting the most out of it

Central and North Rural Weekly - - NEWS -

REAL-TIME pro­tein map­ping tech­nol­ogy may pro­vide the miss­ing link for grow­ers look­ing to bet­ter iden­tify the causes of lost rev­enue in their pad­docks and cap­ture pro­tein pre­mi­ums with grain sales more fre­quently.

De­vel­oped by Aus­tralian com­pany Next In­stru­ments, The CropS­can 3000H On Com­bine Anal­yser was one of the key pre­sen­ta­tions to grow­ers and agron­o­mists at the Grains Re­search and Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion up­dates at Pal­la­mallawa, in north­ern New South Wales re­cently.

De­vel­oper Phillip Clancy said pro­tein map­ping would com­plete the story on soil and plant per­for­mance that is only par­tially pro­vided by yield map­ping.

“Yield map­ping has pro­vided sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments in pro­duc­tiv­ity and prof­itabil­ity, but by com­bin­ing yield map­ping with pro­tein maps, grow­ers can more com­pletely un­der­stand the vari­a­tions that oc­cur across the pad­dock,” he said.

“They can then use vari­able rate fer­tiliser ap­pli­ca­tions to achieve the op­ti­mum yield across fields. Real-time pro­tein data can then help to de­ter­mine where in the field ni­tro­gen should be ap­plied and at what rate.

“High yield and high pro­tein in­di­cates that the plant has reached its full po­ten­tial – the ‘sweet spot’.”

One grower in South Aus­tralia has com­bined yield map­ping with a pro­tein map to show that the prob­lem with yield was there was in­suf­fi­cient ni­tro­gen avail­able in the emer­gence and tiller­ing stages, but there was enough ni­tro­gen for the growth stages of sec­tions of the crop.

“In other sec­tions of the same pad­dock, the yield was high how­ever the pro­tein map shows that the av­er­age pro­tein level was lower than ex­pected,” Mr Clancy said.

“As a re­sult of the anal­y­sis, it was found the grower was leav­ing ap­prox­i­mately $10,000 value in the pad­dock be­cause he did not achieve the op­ti­mum yield and pro­tein grades.”

Real-time pro­tein map­ping works whereby near-in­frared light passes through a sam­ple of grains as they are be­ing har­vested, and is trans­mit­ted to a NIR spec­trom­e­ter lo­cated in the cabin. Data is then sent to a cabin-mounted touch-screen per­sonal com­puter where cal­i­bra­tion mod­els are ap­plied for pro­tein, mois­ture and oil.

As the har­vester bin fills with grain, the bin pro­tein av­er­ages are dis­played in real time so the op­er­a­tor can make de­ci­sions about seg­re­gat­ing grain or se­lec­tively strip­ping dif­fer­ent parts of the pad­dock.

Mr Clancy said the sec­ond ma­jor use of real-time pro­tein map­ping was as a tac­tic to max­imise pro­tein grade pay­ments and was al­ready gen­er­at­ing sig­nif­i­cant profit gains for many grain grow­ers.

“One grower us­ing the tech­nol­ogy for in-pad­dock blend­ing no­ticed a vari­a­tion of up to 5% in pro­tein lev­els across one pad­dock,” Mr Clancy said.

“He was able to mon­i­tor pro­tein lev­els as the bin filled and switch to a lower or higher pro­tein sec­tion of the field un­til the bin av­er­age reached 13.5%.

“He re­ported that ev­ery load was ac­cepted as APH1 grade which at the time at­tracted a $30-per-tonne pre­mium. This prac­tice gen­er­ated an es­ti­mated ad­di­tional $40,000 in grain pay­ments across the farm.

“In a slightly dif­fer­ent ap­pli­ca­tion, another farmer in NSW is us­ing real-time pro­tein data to seg­re­gate grain by pro­tein level be­fore it is stored on farm. The pro­tein, mois­ture and weight of ev­ery truck load that is stored into each silo is recorded by the sys­tem and is made avail­able to their grain mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant.

“Grain is then mar­keted from each silo with con­fi­dence that the pro­tein will meet the buyer’s re­quire­ments. This sys­tem has led to higher prices re­ceived per tonne and no costly re­jected loads for the grower.”

“Farm­ing is about con­vert­ing wa­ter into grain. When there is suf­fi­cient wa­ter avail­able, then the grower’s task is to op­ti­mise the yield and to get the best price for the grain,” Mr Clancy said.

“By com­bin­ing yield and pro­tein maps, grow­ers can more com­pletely un­der­stand the vari­a­tions that oc­cur across the pad­dock.”

He said grow­ers were then able to use vari­able rate fer­tiliser ap­pli­ca­tions to achieve the op­ti­mum yield across pad­docks with real-time pro­tein data able to help de­ter­mine where in the pad­dock ni­tro­gen should be ap­plied and at what rate.

PHOTO: FILE

HAR­VEST: Pro­tein map­ping will help plant per­for­mance.

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