Precision Agriculture Project

The Tasmanian Agricultural Productivity Group (TAPG), in conjunction with the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) and Serve-Ag, is undertaking this project with funding from the Department of Primary Industries, water and Environment (DPIPWE).

Announced in June 2015, the $530,000 Precision Agriculture Project is one of a number of projects being funded under the Cultivating Prosperity: A 2050 Vision for Agriculture grant program.

Increasing on-farm productivity and sustainability

The objective of this project is to increase the awareness and understanding of agricultural stakeholders in the supply chain (farmers, agronomists, field officers, contractors, agri-business) of the production and environmental benefits of applying precision agricultural (PA) technologies on farm.

Using mapped data to inform decisions about vari-rate nutrition and vari-rate irrigation techniques, the project aims to not only help boost crop yields, but also reduce fertiliser costs, improve irrigation techniques and provide information to make better farm management decisions.

The project will specifically use selected demonstration sites as a means to:

  • Raise awareness and increase adoption of PA best practices via implementation of PA methodologies and concepts.
  • Identify on-farm variability soils and crops in terms of scale and commercial implication.
  • Provide advice on identification of soil constraints and in-season challenges to target appropriate inputs and amelioration techniques for crops in vegetable rotations
  • Provide advice to manage and protect land using better targeted, strategic applications of farm inputs
  • Offer an avenue for shared experiences, develop leadership and networks
  • Increase landholder knowledge in precision land management.

Ultimately, this will build capacity in not only the production aspect of farming with precision agriculture techniques, but also encourage an increased awareness of soil constraints and environmental
responsibilities in farming.

What information will we collect?

EM38

Geo-referenced site soil survey to identify zones of variable characteristics to allow variable treatment (e.g. variable rate irrigation).

Digital Elevation

Digital Elevation Modelling (DEM) as a platform for watershed analysis, drainage planning and VR irrigation.

NDVI

Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) as a platform to monitor plant vigour. NDVI highlights relative variability within a crop. It can guide targeted assessment of crop performance and actions to remediate any problems. NDVI images can be sourced using satellite, fixed wing aircraft and UAV's.

pH mapping

Geo-referenced grid analysis to identify pH variability and guide identification of management zones within a paddock/farm.

Variable rate irrigation and fertilisation

VR application technologies include irrigation (pivot or linear), nutrition and seeding rates.

Yield mapping

Yield monitoring technology allows preparation of yield maps which illustrate crop variability, and the influence of other variables (e.g. EM38, NDVI) on final crop yield. Cereal, pea and some potato harvest data will be assessed in the project. Yield data is a powerful commercial driver for PA investment.