PUTTING the microscope over farm management decisions to ensure returns are optimised from every component of production is increasingly becoming a feature of farming in the new century.
One of the latest technological tools assisting this approach is CSBP's SkyPlan package, which will be displayed at the company's stand at the WA No-Tillage Farmers' Association's 2003 conference in Perth from March 6-7.
Not only has SkyPlan been used to identify production variations within paddocks and subsequently helping to better target soil sampling, but it has been assisting with nutritional decisions to maximise fertilise use efficiency as well as productivity and profitability from various areas of the paddocks.
"SkyPlan has brought a focus to specific areas of paddocks that can then be managed separately," CSBP Agricultural Services manager Eddy Pol said.
"Gross margin maps produced by the system are becoming especially popular to identify areas that are making good money for growers and those that are losing or making less money."
He said farmers practicing minimum tillage or adopting one-pass operations, and who are embracing new technologies that are assisting them to establish management zones within paddocks, are leading the uptake of the SkyPlan system.
One such grower is Glenn Fretwell, who manages a 4000ha (9880ac) full cropping operation with his father, Tony, north-east of Newdegate.
They hope SkyPlan, together with CSBP's soil fertility modelling, can help them reach the next level of productivity and profitability on their property 'Katandra'.
"The clear aim of using the system is to maximise profits from every square metre of the property by putting on the right fertiliser for the yield potential," Glenn said.
"We see the potential to improve profits substantially."
He said SkyPlan's gross margin maps have shown massive profitability differences between high and low performance areas, with yields ranging from about 3.5t/ha to 1t/ha.
"We should be putting more inputs into our best soils for the opportunity of even better yields from the high areas whilst reducing costs from over-fertilising in other areas," he said.
Glenn said CSBP is the only company with such soil fertility data to enable these crop production advancements. The real key to realising them "on the ground" was having access to staff from the company to make sense of all the information, including Area Manager Kirk Reynolds to assist with interpreting the soil tests and fine-tuning the fertiliser applications.