Yuna trials show GPS advatnages

30 May, 2001 10:00 PM
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WESFARMERS Landmark senior agronomist Peter Norris is under no illusions about farmers wanting to use GPS systems as a tool to assist them in making management decisions.

"There's got to be a dollar in it," he said. "That's what this project is all about.

"We're trying to come up with an integrated package that will assist farmers to make better decisions that will achieve more profit."

The big picture of what Peter prefers to call precision agriculture incorporates a team of specialist agronomists who are trained in the practical applications of GPS equipment where it relates to analysing data.

"The farmers have got the skills to operate the machinery but there's another side which takes massive amounts of time to analyse data," he said. "That's where this project can lead in terms of assisting farmers to do it better."

According to Peter, there are three aims of the project.

The first is to hold and document demonstrations of how growers have used precision agriculture technology to solve specific problems.

This will show leading growers and their advisers how precision agriculture can enable them to solve a range of specific problems within the paddock.

These demonstrations are investigating better targeting of inputs to the responsive areas of the paddock.

The second aim is to develop a basic toolbox of PC-based methods to assist paddock-scale decision-making based on yield maps, on-farm experiments and other data such as soil or tissue samples.

This toolbox will summarise essential components of agronomic experience within Wesfarmers Landmark and technical products from agencies such as CSIRO.

The tools will be used to address practical demands from the Yuna Farm Improvement Group and the applications will be designed for commercial advisers to use.

Some suggested components of this toolbox at this stage include yield change maps, yield stability maps, paddock and farm gross margin maps, summary statistics of financial performance within paddocks and maps showing yield response to whole paddock experiments.

The third aim is to develop a network of trained fee for service advisers whose role will be to deliver to interested growers a professional precision agriculture service using the experience of the project research to improve growers' profitability.

Wesfarmers Landmark agronomists will have the opportunity to be trained to deliver this service.

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