Focus on precision in quest for water profits
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.