Adopting and adapting technology to find a productivity edge has been central to Ed Windley’s approach to vegetable farming for the past 18 years. Kengoon Farming, located near Kalbar in the Scenic Rim, is operated by Ed and Gen Windley, with a small but dedicated team.
They grow predominantly carrots, sweet corn and green beans, with an emerging finger lime orchard. In recent years, they have converted part of their farmland to certified organic production.
‘Farming organically has been a wonderful challenge. Weed control is certainly the biggest part of that challenge, which is where working with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Kalfresh in exploring and testing robotic AgTech has been incredibly valuable,’ says Ed.
‘Together, we’ve been able to trial a solar-powered FarmDroid robot that can both seed and weed. Simply put, it plants the seeds and, while doing so, maps the location of each seed. Using that data, it can then come back through the paddock and weed around that seed using metal blades. Although it’s very early days, with lots of trial and error, the potential for the industry is incredibly promising.’
Adoption of new technology to assist with farming operations has been integral to Ed’s approach since establishing the farm in 2005. In that year, an opportunity to lease irrigated creek flats from his parents presented a challenge for the then agronomist to put into practice the principles he’d been encouraging others to try.
Some of these concepts included adoption of precision agriculture principles such as control traffic and using hi-resolution mapping to enable variable rate nutrition and irrigation.
With labour shortages, inevitable weather impacts and ever-increasing input costs, Ed says that being as efficient as you can be with every resource to produce the best quality crop—in terms of both yield and taste—is imperative. Looking after your soil health is just as critical, and AgTech solutions that reduce chemical use and build soil organic matter makes dollars and sense.