Precision agriculture helps sugar industry manage

News release | 18-Aug-2017

Department of Agriculture and Fisheries senior agronomist John Hughes addressed the Fertcare workshop in Mackay last month to talk about findings from two precision agriculture projects that have contributed to the development of a template for continuous improvement in the sugarcane industry.

Mr Hughes referenced the BPS001 project and the Moses project and said ground-truthing of fine scale soil and yield spatial mapping patterns were useful technologies to determine the causes of crop variability at an intra-paddock scale.

“The template is based on a series of processes. The first step is to define the inter action of topsoil and subsurface variables. Growers are able to then identify the constraints to crop growth’” said Mr Hughes.

“Other steps include using zonal management strategies to address the constraints and improve zonal yield potential through mitigating the defined constraints.

“Growers also have the option of variable rate application of nitrogen and other nutrients where mitigation of constraints is uneconomical due to identified agronomic issues such as dispersive sub-soils, sodic soils and poor sub surface drainage.

“Other options available through precision agriculture include the selection of adapted sugarcane varieties for defined areas.

“Using the spatial mapping layers and a precision agriculture approach to manage paddock variability makes farming and agronomy a lot more interesting,” he said.

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Media contact: Isabel Bryce, 3330 4518