Mapping effective VRT strategies

Author: Natalie Lee | Date: 12 May 2014

The seeding rig on Andrew Todd’s Dowerin farm which is one of the trial sites for the VRT project

Over the next year, new research will provide Western Australian growers with information to compare the cost effectiveness of purchasing different information layers for variable rate technology (VRT) zone application maps.

The Understanding Map Layers for VRT project is a Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) Regional Cropping Solutions Networks (RCSN) initiative, with the research being conducted by the Kondinin Group.

Ben White, Kondinin Group’s general manager of research, said the project was identified as a priority for growers in the areas covered by the Kwinana West and Geraldton RCSN zones.

“There are a number of mapping layers available, and with some costing significantly more than others the challenge for growers is a lack of comparative information about the return on investment from purchasing different layers, he said.

“This project looks to clarify the benefits, drawbacks and considerations each information layer can provide in determining application zone maps for inputs including lime, phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium, if applicable.”

In addition to a comprehensive literature review, knowledge and experiences from growers, agronomists and precision agriculture practitioners about the benefits and drawbacks of each information layer will be incorporated into the study.

This will be used to illustrate the potential benefits each of these information layers can provide.

In-paddock comparisons will be undertaken at two paddocks in the Geraldton port zone and one paddock in the western area of the Kwinana port zone, with sites identified in collaboration with growers, zone mapping providers and RCSN representatives.

These comparisons will provide actual financial benefits and costs of each information layer relative to its influence in determining the application maps and the benefit provided either through optimised input application and/or additional yield benefit.

"With seeding well underway in the west, decision making about the cost effectiveness of purchasing different map layers for variable rate technology (VRT) zone application will be top of mind for many growers,” Mr White said.

WA growers interested in VRT and precision agriculture (PA) can find information in the GRDC reference guide Applying PA - A reference guide for the modern practitioner.

It is available for viewing and downloading via the GRDC website at and hard copies are available through GRDC’s Ground Cover Direct service by phoning 1800 110044 or by emailing

Since its establishment more than two years ago, the RCSN initiative has helped refine GRDC western regional panel priorities for grains research, development and extension. The initiative aims to help growers get the information they need, when they need it, so they can make good decisions about farming practices.

As well as initiating smaller projects, RCSNs feed issues into the standard GRDC investment process which leads to bigger projects.

Caption: The seeding rig on Andrew Todd’s Dowerin farm which is one of the trial sites for the VRT project, supported by the GRDC’s RCSN initiative.

Contact Details

For interviews

Ben White, Kondinin Group
0407 941 923

Region West, North, South