Variable Rate Application

Published: 21 Feb 2012

Variable Rate Application Fact Sheet

Make Variable Rate Application Pay

Variable-rate application (VRA) of some inputs delivers cost benefits and improved yields. Before adopting VRA, growers can optimise their chances of better returns by running simple on-farm trials.

Key Points

  • When considering variable-rate application, question whether variation exists. The level and area of variability needs to be large enough to justify adoption.
  • Varying application rates can be done manually or by using precision agriculture equipment.
  • Obtain data to build a picture of the different management zones. Crop biomass, yield and soils information, plus a grower’s knowledge can be used to create zones.
  • When managing different zones within a paddock, diagnose the constraint or factor that limits crop yield. On-farm trials can help.
  • Prioritise lifting the yield potential of constrained soils with ameliorants before adjusting nutrient inputs.
  • The return from varying rates can change from season to season.
  • Keep on-farm trials simple: stick to one or two treatment differences and make the size difference between treatment rates large.  Consider your equipment capability in the trial design.

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