Fo­cus on pre­ci­sion in quest for water profits

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS - KAROLIN MACGRE­GOR

THE lat­est ir­ri­ga­tion tech­nol­ogy and re­search was dis­cussed at a Water for Profit event this week.

About 40 farm­ers and in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives gath­ered for the an­nual work­shop at Long­ford on Tuesday.

Guest speaker Luke Tay­lor from AgAs­sist tack­led the sub­ject of pre­ci­sion fer­tiliser tech­nol­ogy.

While the tech­nol­ogy has been widely adopted in other coun­tries, Mr Tay­lor said this sort of equip­ment had only been used in Tas­ma­nia over the past four years.

Vari­able-rate fer­tiliser gives farm­ers the abil­ity to ap­ply dif­fer­ent amounts of fer­tiliser ac­cord­ing to what is needed.

Mr Tay­lor said for the tech­nol­ogy to be ef­fec­tive, there had to be rea­son­able vari­a­tion in nu­tri­ent needs across a pad­dock.

Mr Tay­lor said this tech­nol­ogy could help to re­duce in­puts costs and im­prove yields.

“In most cases it’s due to chang­ing soil types across a pad­dock,” he said.

“There’s a whole range of things that in­flu­ence the yield po­ten­tial across a pad­dock.”

Grid sam­pling can pro­vide ac­cu­rate in­for­ma­tion about po­ten­tial nu­tri­ent de­fi­cien­cies and Mr Tay­lor said this was a way to find hid­den vari­a­tions.

“Once you’ve got this in­for­ma­tion you can start to tar­get those ar­eas,” he said.

As de­mand for this type of tech­nol­ogy in­creases, Mr Tay­lor said things were rapidly be­ing de­vel­oped.

Will Bignell is one farmer who has taken the data he has col­lected across his prop­erty and put it to good use.

Mr Bignell told farm­ers at the work­shop it was par­tic­u­larly help­ful when plan­ning green­field site de­vel­op­ments such as in­stalling ir­ri­ga­tion.

“One of the things about farm­ers is you’re all very good at know­ing you’ve got a prob­lem,” he said.

“All pre­ci­sion ag does is it al­lows you to draw a very ac­cu­rate line around the prob­lem you know you al­ready have.”

Mr Bignell gave the ex­am­ple of how he used data lay­er­ing to plan a pivot ir­ri­ga­tor site on his prop­erty at Both­well. He said he was able to work through the eco­nomics of the project, but could also iden­tify po­ten­tial prob­lem ar­eas for flood­ing.

How­ever, Mr Bignell said one of the keys with any pre­ci­sion agri­cul­ture tech­nol­o­gy­was for farm­ers to make sure they are get­ting value for money.

Joe Fo­ley from the Na­tional Cen­tre for En­gi­neer­ing in Agri­cul­ture has been in­volved with re­search projects look­ing at the ef­fi­ciency of sprin­kler­based ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems.

He said three of the key con­sid­er­a­tions with any sprin­kler sys­tem were the over­all ca­pac­ity, the uni­for­mity and the ap­pli­ca­tion ef­fi­ciency. A sys­tem that can de­liver enough water across the en­tire ir­ri­gated area each day is crit­i­cal.

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