PRECISON AG What do farmers say?

Glen Baxter harvesting wheat on 'Springback Station' near Jerilderie, NSW, downloading information from the computer in the harvester.

In addition to the technology update and advice on using precision agriculture tools (see pI oJthis issue oJ Ground Cover), some growers gave their views to the assembled advisers at the Updates.

"HOW LONG do you wait for the technology to be sorted before you start collecting data?" asked farmer Malcolm Sargent at the recent South Australian Update.

Mr Sargent, who crops 1,800 hectares on his property 'Brook Park' near Crystal Brook, said that while machinery companies had embraced precision agriculture, most farmers had waited. He urged farmers to act now and look for systems that offer open architecture and crosscompatibility.

He forecast that cost, as with computers, would always go down while the capability would advance.

"Last year's paddock yield maps will not be available again," said Mr Sargent.

"History is a perishable commodity. Remote sensing can provide cheap information about crop growth, but not the detailed dollar returns in yield or quality. Effective in-paddock trials can be conducted in the heat of harvest using yield maps and monitors. Informed decisions about paddock use will need yield maps from a number of years, an electromagnetic map to help define soil type boundaries, and detailed paddock records.

"We are being forced to keep better records for other reasons, e.g. quality assurance, so why not turn it to your financial advantage and maximise returns for every hectare?" Mr Sargent suggested.

Contact: Mr Malcom Sargent 08 8636 2565 email: sargem@tell.net.au