24 July 2023, Australia: A series of national workshops by the Society of Precision Agriculture Australia (SPAA) has provided Australian grain growers with knowledge and tools to effectively incorporate variable rate technologies (VRT) into their farming systems, thereby enhancing their economic resilience.
Commencing in February 2023 in Tatyoon, Victoria and concluding in Green Range, Western Australia last month, the workshops were made possible through investment from the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).
By considering variations in soil type, nutrient levels, and other pertinent factors, VRT empowers growers to make informed decisions that optimise the use of their available resources. This targeted approach can result in cost savings, reduced environmental impact, and improved crop performance.
GRDC grower relations manager – west, Luke Dawson, says the workshops had been co-designed with growers and were implemented with the aim to provide introductory precision agriculture training for hands-on technology skills.
“A previous series of SPAA workshops in 2021 showcased mobile device integration technologies and low cost, simple precision ag methods already in use by growers and advisers,” Mr Dawson says.
“Following these workshops, SPAA undertook participant surveys which found that the workshops had supported participants to source expert help, discuss opportunities with suppliers, consultants or clients, and better use the data they already had available.
“GRDC invested in the 2023 national series of seven SPAA workshops which provided further training to support growers’ fertiliser decision making, particularly with rising input costs.”
SPAA executive officer Angelique McAvoy says several growers participated in the workshops and shared their experiences with precision agriculture (PA) technologies and variable-rate technology (VRT).
“It is evident that there exists a strong desire among growers to acquire more information on leveraging VRT and PA to optimise crop performance through effective input management,” Ms McAvoy says.
“One of the series’ highlights featured a discussion led by Phil and Tom Longmire at the Broomehill workshop on their philosophy regarding PA and VRT.
“The father and son team provided real-life examples of successfully integrating PA technology with their deep understanding of their property in Esperance, WA. Their innovative approach has led to effective problem-solving and significant improvements in on-farm productivity. It was great witnessing peer-to-peer learning in action.”
SPAA engaged precision agriculture specialists from around the country to deliver the workshops nationwide. Facilitators included Colin Hinze from Pinion Advisory, Reuben Wells from Aglogic, Tim Neale from Data Farming, Bindi Isbister from Agrarian Management, and Alice Butler from FARMANCO.
Grower groups that partnered with SPAA to deliver and tailor the workshops included Southern Farming Systems, Upper North Farming Systems, Mackillop Farm Management Group, AgriWest, Merredin and Districts Farm Improvement Group (MADFIG), Broomehill Cropping and Stirlings to Coast Farmers.
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