PA with an aerial twist

Graeme Wright

Brain surgery it 's not. But a simple, low-cost, near infra-red photographic technique being used by Queensland Department of Primary Industries peanut scientists is allowing accurate aerial assessment of growing crops.

Using the technique - a standard, $5,000 digital camera fitted with an infra-red lens mounted in the open window of a light aircraft- they have been able to identify high - and lowyielding areas of the one paddock and faulty water distribution by centre pivot irrigators. Down the track. they believe they can link NIR photographs with global information systems (GIS) data pre-harvest crop estimates and precision agriculture recommendations. This initiative by Kingaroy's Graeme Wright (right) and Greg Mills (left) builds on work carried out under the GRDC-supported 'Yield Gap' project - achieving the genetic potential of existing peanut varieties in high-input production systems.

The genetic potential of currently available peanut varieties is at least 6-7 tonnes to the hectare; the industry average over the last 10 years has varied between 3.5 and 4.5 tonnes. The two scientists say the project has had a reasonable impact on change in management skills. Irrigated peanuts now regularly achieve 6 tonnes to the hectare and better, but they say the project can claim to have only partly contributed to these results. Newer peanut growers with access to irrigation tend to be highly skilled in cotton or horticulture, and they also tend to use specialist peanut consultants. at least in their initial planting years.

Program 2 Contact: Mr Graeme Wright or Mr Greg Mills 07 4160 0700

Greg Mills

Region North