Ground Cover North : Ground Cover 053 December-January 2005 - North
6 DECEMBER 2004 FORUM/NEWS Precision agriculture is said to hold the key to increasing yields and revolutionising grain production, but very few of the technologies made available over the past decade have proved their worth in Australia. Despite satellite data, soil testing, tissue testing, infra-red technology, yield monitoring, variable rate technology and other tools, Australian farmers still tend to treat each paddock as a homogenous whole when it comes to nutrients. The result is areas with adequate levels being over-supplied for the sake of covering deficient patches. The Australian approach contrasts with Europe, where the focus is much more on using precision technology to vary the application of nitrogen. French researchers, for instance, have developed technology that uses satellite imagery to tiller-count. Crop conditions are mapped, then nitrogen is evaluated and applied accordingly. The accuracy is around 90 percent. In the United Kingdom, sensors are used to read nitrogen levels in crops and rates of application are adjusted "on the go". The research is leading to higher accuracy in the reading of plant nitrogen levels. A similar picture emerged as I travelled through western Canada on a Nuffield scholarship. The scholarship has allowed me to spend four months in North America, Europe and South Africa, evaluating the potential for integrating precision technologies into Australian broadacre cropping to boost yields and economic returns. In the US and South Africa, they applied the maxim, "If you don't measure it, you can't manage it" in their approach to successfully using software to analyse yield, biomass, climate, profitability, terrain and more. This correlative data was used to confirm farmer knowledge in showing which areas should be treated accordingly. A simple example seen in South Africa in a low rainfall area was a shift in fertiliser of 10 percent from the north to the less sunny, south facing slopes of each wheat paddock as analysis showed a high correlation between yield and the direct exposure of the topography to the sun. In Canada, I noticed that the research investment in variable management reflected the increasing potential for crops as I moved from one province to another. This seems to be noticeable in Europe also, where research is focused more on software and tissue-testing techniques, rather than guidance. The most promising technologies for an Australian context involve liquid fertilisers. These would give us the ability to adjust the nutrient composition at the same time as managing soil conditions. The growth in liquids in the United States has risen to 45 million tonnes per year, and likewise in the UK. In Australia, they could be used in conjunction with granular to keep cost competitive. Costs of production are forever rising. If we can efficiently apply these inputs to maximise yields and hence profitability then, hopefully, our industries will prosper and stay at the forefront of world production. GRDC RESEARCH CODE NUF 00007, program 6 For more information: Phil Longmire, firstname.lastname@example.org Nuffield scholar and graingrower PHIL LONGMIRE, from Esperance in WA, is interested in studying specific site management through integration and implementation of precision technology. He reported during his Nuffield tour on what he was learning overseas. Turn your grain into dollars faster, with our Grain Growers Advance. www.anz.com/rural Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited ABN 11 005 357 522 Terms and conditions, including funding limits apply, and are available on application. All applications are subject to ANZ's normal credit approval criteria. By turning your delivered Australian Wheat Board Limited or ABB Grain Ltd eligible grain into an instant cash crop, the ANZ Grain Growers Advance can help cover your production costs and allow you to start planning for next season. So there' s no 'drought' in your cash flow. This fresh approach to up front financing is all about seeing things from your point of view. That's why our financial services and solutions can be structured around your individual business and personal circumstances. And because we have an Industry Specialist in major grain districts across Australia, expert advice and some of the best deals are never far away. Don't play with your future. Consider ANZ, we're on the ground helping the grain industry prosper. ANZ0238C Tour turns up some useful tips GROWER FORUM This December issue marks several milestones for Ground Cover, achieved over the past 12 months. Firstly it represents a move from five to six issues a year; a significant step up to reflect the need to maintain a high level of coverage of the increasing activity and innovation that is occurring in the grains industry. It is also 12 months since Ground Cover started being published by Coretext Pty Ltd and its team of experienced science and grains industry writers under editor Brad Collis. In that time there has been a distinctive change in style and direction aimed at reflecting the increasing professionalism that now exists at all levels of the grains sector. Ground Cover has set out over the past 12 months to create a platform for the industry's brightest thinkers and innovators, to champion the science and research taking place in laboratories and on farms and to provide everyone in this industry with a sense of belonging to a community -- a community of professionals. Ground Cover is managed by Maureen Cribb and Vic Dobos in the Product and Service Delivery (PSD) Program, which is responsible for communicating research activities to growers, and for promoting the rapid adoption of research outcomes. This vital communication role has been enhanced by the changes made to Ground Cover, and the enthusiastic feedback from growers and other industry professionals has demonstrated that Ground Cover is becoming increasingly valued. In the coming year Ground Cover, and its specialist supplements covering specific areas of research and innovation, such as Precision Agriculture (August issue) will continue to develop through enhancements in design and content. Through the PSD program, the GRDC is committed to excellence in its delivery of all services, particularly R&D information, to the grains industry -- one of the most exciting sectors of the Australian economy and the Australian community. GRDC RESEARCH CODE COR 00003, program 6 For more information: Inquiries about PSD and Ground Cover can be directed to Vic Dobos, program manager, GRDC, 02 6272 5525. Ground Cover mirrors industry advance Communication role: PSD program manager Vic Dobos.
Ground Cover 054 February-March 2005 - North
Ground Cover 052 October-November 2004 - North