CSP00201 - Future Farm ? Theme 1, Review phase: Intelligent sensing ? Improving farmer confidence in targeted N management through automated sensing
Optimising the efficient use of nitrogen (N) fertiliser is an important goal for cereal and cotton growers across Australia. It typically represents 30-40% of input costs and is a major determinant of both profitability and productivity; GRDC’s More Profit from Crop Nutrition (MPCN) initiative shows farmer risk is closely related to the magnitude and effectiveness of expenditure on N fertiliser. One way of optimising N use is to use the tools of Precision Agriculture (PA) to deliver on the 4 Rs – putting the right amount of the right product in the right place at the right time. However, such strategies can require a substantial investment in time spent processing and analysing data, may require several steps that are not necessarily well integrated, while farmer confidence in these tools as decision aids is low given some of the assumptions which underpin them. The opportunity therefore exists to re-examine and improve the way in which soil and crop sensors are used to inform decisions about N management and to provide a way of automating the process from data acquisition, through analysis, to the formulation and implementation of decision options.
This project (Theme 1 of 'Future Farm') is focussed on the sensing system component; a parallel project (Theme 2) is focussed on developing a decision support tool which would combine the sensor-derived input to the fertiliser decision with other sources of information such as seasonal weather or grain prices, etc…; a third parallel project (Theme 3) will focus on an autonomous robotic platform from which such a sensing system might be deployed.
This project addresses the initial review phase of Theme 1. It will comprise a review of existing soil and crop sensing technologies which could be brought to bear in N decision making to identify where the greatest gains could be made via further RDE to be conducted in the second phase of Future Farm.
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