The ability of new farm machinery technology to bolster the efficiency of farming systems was showcased during a recent two-day farm machinery innovation tour in Central Queensland.
Organised by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC)-funded Central Queensland Grower Solutions Group, the tour focussed on increased precision in planting, improved spray technology, modification to reduce header fires and wheel track renovations and efficiency.
The tour was attended by more than 80 growers from across Central Queensland and toured properties near Comet, Capella, Clermont and Dysart for a practical perspective on a range of different planter and sprayer technologies.
Tour organiser Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) principal technical officer Maurice Conway said the tour primarily attracted young growers keen to employ new technologies to generate time and labour savings and maximise crop production opportunities.
“It was really pleasing to see so many younger growers wanting to discuss ways to improve farm practice as a means of boosting the efficiency of their farming systems and overall operation profitability,” Mr Conway said.
“New technology has the potential to dramatically change the way we farm in Central Queensland by improving planting techniques, soil moisture conservation, crop water use efficiency and management of the cropping rotation.
“These type of improvements are critical if growers are to address challenges to their already tight margins by maximising planting opportunities and crop yields.”
Clermont grower Brendon Swaffer attended the farm machinery innovation tour and said he had been particularly interested in discussion over the `precision disc’ planter verses the `precision tyne’ planter.
“There have been some great advances in recent years with both types of planters. The disc system is now incorporating on-the-go unit downforce monitoring and adjustment, section control to shut off rows to reduce overlap, variable rate planting and fertilizer application with maps overlaid from historical yield data, soil type and observation,” he said.
“Advantages of the disc system still include minimal soil disturbance, unrivalled trash clearance and precise seed placement.
“The `new’ tyne planters are now on the way to incorporating some of the favourable advantages of the vacuum disc system with section control and more precise seed placement. That said, there’s still a little way to go in the quest to find the perfect precision planter.”
He said machinery efficiency was critical if farming operations were to continue improving economies of scale, profitability and long term viability.
“It is common to look around the district now where one family farms, and think back 25 years ago when that same area was once operated by two or three families,” he said.
“Not only has the scale of area and size of machinery increased, the time taken to complete operations such as weed control, planting, fertilizing and harvesting has reduced dramatically.
“If we thought there was a gap between the good farmers and average farmers 25 years ago, I believe that gap has now become a chasm, due largely to machinery inefficiency.”
Mark Hodder, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries
13 25 23
Sarah Jeffrey, Cox Inall Communications
0418 152 859
GRDC Project Code