Would like to acknowledge support of Bungulla Farming Director Brad Jones & Farm manager Jim Betti; also the various sponsors listed. The presentation has relevance to farm management relating to both mitigation and adaptation; but this discussion will relate more to adaptation strategies.
Bungulla farming is located in the cereal wheat belt of western Australia and operates about 7000 hectares of cropping wheat, lupins, chickpeas and canola. Given the light sandy soils, production is predominantly reliant on regular winter rainfall. Any changes in either timing or degree of winter rainfall would have significant production consequences.
Management is aware that input costs is strongly tied to the cost of oil used to operate farm machinery and transport
Also indirectly the cost of fertiliser which is highly energy intensive
There is also an acceptance that grain prices is a global commodity with strong competitive pressures
This has meant that margins are under pressure of rising input costs against competitive grain prices
The possibility of climate changes affecting the reliability of rainfall holds potential consequences to production.
A risk analysis requires that plans are put in place to maintain productivity. The risk of crop failure suggests that managing investment cost away from a prescriptive system such pre-applied fertiliser, to a more opportunistic system, such as applying on predicted rain events is a possible option. This type of management change is seeking to improve productivity performance on a regular basis in managing the main input costs variable fuel and fertiliser.
If decision making is to be based on data; then it is important to consider how this data is obtained, its reliability and workability
A map based system suits large areas
Variable rate controllers minimises unnecessary application (cost) and improves speed of application (time). Value of being able to cover more area ahead of a rain front.
Taking the concept of variable rate to chemical application for much the same reason cost and timing
Managing crop production uncertainties and climate variability through a map-based system - Jean-Francois Rochcouste
Managing crop production uncertainties and climate variability though a map- based system By Jean-Francois (John) Rochecouste Univ. of Qld. Brad Jones Bungulla Farming Pty Ltd James Betti Bungulla Farming Pty LtdAcknowledgment:
Case Study : Bungulla Farming7,200 hectares of croppingAverage 320 mm Annual rainfall – sandy soils Hard pan layer
Operating Economic Assumption 1Price of oil to go up Diesel Price monthly retail (US cents/gallon) Global Financial crisis effect
Operating Economic Assumption 2 Corresponding increase in the price of fertiliser
Operating Economic Assumption 3 Wheat prices in Australian dollars at Silo (annual average) 500 450 400 Volatile grain prices 350 Dollars (AUD) 300 250 200 150 100 50 0Average gross income from wheat in 1997 was: Current price at silo1.4 X $193 = $270.2/hectare Cambooya $320.00
Despite some recent high grainprices in the last 5 years, grainfarmers have averaged a -1.4% productivity decline source: ABARE presentation 2010 report to GRDC
Climate Risk Median Precipitation change by 2030??Suggested: “Decreases of around 5% prevail in winter and spring, particularly in the South- west where they reach 10%”CSIRO, 2007, Climate change in Australia – Technical Report 2007
Proposed Management Action Seek to develop a 2-3% increase in productivity per year and manage risks to protect productivity using best available data
How do we determine data needs?Does data drive management? (often the case) Letting available data use up time because its interesting … orLet operational needs determine available data Management determined that ‘data’ should support decisions at critical points of crop production failure using a map based system
Why maps?• Most suited for managing large geographical and spatially complex units• Bungulla operates 68 paddock “portfolios”• Can now be digitally interactive
Critical points of Production failure –responsibilities for Jim (farm manager)• Pre-plant operations – Weeds, moisture, crop option, fertiliser options, frost risk, supply line• Planting – Prescription fertiliser, labour, equipment readiness• Weed, pest and disease control – Link with Agronomists, application logistics• Harvest & storage• Product supply• Staff deployment
Data options for production• Soil (nutrient, pH, structure)• Climate (temp., RH, evaporation, light)• Water (soil moisture, irrigation, water flow)• Topography (drainage, erosion)• Vegetation (vigour, biomass, weeds)• Machinery operation (fertiliser, pesticide, yield)
New potential technical applications: WEEDSEEKERS
What it means to the farmerArea to be sprayed 264 hectares wild cotton, peach vine, milk thistle andWeeds Targeted fleabaneChemical mix 2.6l/ha (roundup max) + 4.0 l/ha (surpass)Water rate 80 l/haActual Usage 4.5%Actual area sprayed 11.88 haActual cost of chemical $583.30Chemical cost normal spray $12,962.40ACTUAL CHEMICAL SAVING $12,379.10
Summary• Management & Operations communicate comfortably with maps• Operation concentrate on PROCESS with feedback• Management concentrate on big picture outlook• Australia farmers are capable of adapting but it’s a TEAM EFFORT not a brain injection process