Agroecosystems outreach

The use of Precision Agriculture technologies and techniques for managing the ‘what/where/how much’ decisions regarding inputs for crop growth is rapidly entering the mainstream. Fine-scale maps of soil type variability, in-season crop biomass and crop yield are now routinely gathered using sensors and GPS on vehicles or aircraft to help make these decisions. The rapidly rising costs of inputs such as fertilisers, the potential environmental problems associated with wastage, and the release of information from research institutions about the real financial benefits to Australian farmers has fueled this interest. At the ACPA, work on developing commercial scale systems for gathering and using the spatial information is done in partnership with grower groups in South Australia, Victoria and NSW. Gathering information, establishing experiments and testing management options at the commercial scale is vital for widescale uptake of these technologies and techniques and could not be done efficiently and cheaply without the enthusiastic involvement of growers across the regions. Results have shown that over the past few years there has been an average potential benefit of $33/ha/yr available to broadacre farmers who manage their N and P inputs to spatial variation in crop requirements.