Grains Research and Development

Date: 01.04.2004

Aerial survey helps to improve crop returns

South Australian grower Malcolm Sargent checks out some of the gadgetry inside the Fletcher aircraft.

South Australian grower Malcolm Sargent (left) checks out some of the gadgetry inside the Fletcher aircraft used to survey his property as part a national aerial surveying program aimed at showing how Precision Agriculture (PA) technology can help improve crop returns.

Since December last year 22 farms in WA, SA, Queensland and NSW have been surveyed by aircraft fitted with gamma-radiometric equipment which maps soil properties.

The data being collected is used to try to determine why crop yields vary across a paddock. This becomes the basis on which to develop precision agriculture strategies for a farm. Part of a fi ve-year R&D initiative funded by the GRDC, the survey involves flying over paddocks at a height of 30 to 40 metres, taking measurements using a gamma-radiometric spectrometer.

The spectrometer measures the natural gamma-ray emissions from the top 30 centimetres of soil and assesses the amount of potassium, uranium and thorium, which indicate different soil types.

Photo courtesy of The Flinders News, Port Pirie.

Region North, South, West