About the work of the Precision Agriculture Laboratory

Historically, agronomic practices and management recommendations have been developed for implementation on a field or paddock basis. This generally results in the uniform application of tillage, fertiliser, sowing and pest control treatments at a field scale. Farm fields, however, display considerable spatial variation in crop yield, at the 'within-field' scale.

Such uniform treatment of a field ignores the natural and induced variation in soil properties, and may result in areas being under- or over-treated, giving rise to economic and environmental problems. The more substantial of these problems being: economically significant yield losses, excessive chemical costs, gaseous or percolatory release of chemical components, unacceptable long-term retention of chemical components and a less than optimal crop growing environment.

Precision Agriculture (PA), in the form of Site-Specific Management (SSCM), offers a remedy to many of these concerns. The philosophy involves matching resource application and agronomic practices with soil properties and crop requirements as they vary across a site. Collectively, these actions are referred to as the "differential" treatment of field variation as opposed to the "uniform" treatment underlying traditional management systems. The result is an improvement in the efficiency and environmental impact of crop production systems.