20 Oct 2017

Precision Agriculture

From Country Life, 9:07 pm on 20 October 2017
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Photo: RNZ/Andrew McRae

South Australia merino and cropping farmer Mark Branson is a convert to precision agriculture.

Precision agriculture was born out of military and space technology and was first applied to farming back in the 1980s.

It uses technology to observe, measure and then respond to different challenges on the farm, ranging from soil types and water moisture levels, nutrient levels or livestock numbers.

Mark Branson says an economic survey two years ago highlighted where he is making savings.

He says a little came from yield gain and also from using incredibly accurate farm machinery that use GPS and autosteer to maximise the area of land planted and harvested.    

But he says the greatest financial gain was by reducing the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen he was applying.

"To have the confidence not to apply inputs into areas have got adequate amounts in the first place has been the biggest step for me and the big saver in the money.

"PA (precision agriculture) to me is putting nutrients and inputs where they should go in paddocks and taking them off the areas not utilising them well."

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