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Yield Prophet and precision agriculture - a suitable tool for risk management and increased productivity in the Northern Agricultural Region of WA? - Craig Topham
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Yield Prophet and precision agriculture - a suitable tool for risk management and increased productivity in the Northern Agricultural Region of WA? - Craig Topham


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  • 1. “Yield Prophet & Precision Agriculture” “A Suitable Tool For Risk Management & Increased Productivity In The NAR of WA?” `Craig Topham – Agrarian Management – Geraldton WA
  • 2. Where Have We Come From Historically1. Small machinery, Slow planting speed2. Small paddocks, often fenced to soil type3. Labour intensive , multiple pass cropping system4. Greater intensity of tillage = greater wind / water erosion5. Greater levels of fuel usage = greater emissions / ha6. Delayed sowing = lower yields7. Lower input and Overhead costs – less capital intensive8. 90’s less seasonal variability – Expectation of Rain
  • 3. 90’s Thought that “No Till” would drought proof farming , low rainfall inputs increased 00’s Realization that Technology was needed to minimise impact of adverse seasonal conditions“Adverse Seasonal Conditions Have Always Been An Expected Circumstance Rather Than An Exceptional Circumstance” Future Direction Ability To Allocate Capital ProportionatelyAccording To Expected Conversion Into Revenue Yield Prophet & Zone Management
  • 4. Large Seasonal Production Volatility 5 out of 13 Seasons above average 2 of 13 Average 6 of 13 well below average Real profit made in 4 out of every 10 years Key is to minimise losses in the 60% of Loss making seasons
  • 5. The Modern NAR Farmer• Younger, well educated, very computer literate• Large scale, rapid sowing pace• No fences, large paddocks, increased soil variation• Large % dry sown, Increased capital at risk• Large % of Capital expended at Sowing• High degree of mechanization, reduced labour• Highly automated machinery• High level of precision ( Guidance, Placement, Zone Management, VRT)• Greater awareness of variability = Soil, Productivity, Profitability = Water holding capacity• Yield Prophet has increased farmer knowledge of Soil water holding capacity Intense summer fallows and moisture conservation Concept of bucket size becoming well understood Farmer acceptance of modelling tools
  • 6. Experiences From Last 2 Years Involvement with Yield Prophet Limitations to Adoption Adoption limited due to lack of understanding by Farmers Lack of exposure – limited to a few consultants – NAR WA Exposure largely limited to DAFWA & GRDC project participants - Farmer awareness / understanding increasing rapidly after exposure - Enthusiasm directly correlates with accuracy of model Accuracy in WA diminished by limited data base of locally characterised soil types Soil testing strategy needs refinement to be adapted to local environment Experienced advisor required to accurately set up model Good understanding of sub soil constraints and effects on plant rooting depths required Nitrogen model very useful, needs tailoring to WA conditions Experience suggests a general lack of understanding of WA soils & conditions by modellers
  • 7. Yield Profit, Yield Prediction Results 2010Morawa Poor Soil Fit – Sub Soil Constraints Three Springs year 2 Well Characterised soil Accurate Rooting Depth Results In Accurate Yield Prediction More Soil Investigation Prior To Set Up Improves In Season Yield Prediction
  • 8. Accurate Soil Characterization = Very Accurate Model
  • 9. Provides Ability To Measure, Manage & Predict Plant Available WaterProbabilities from Historical weather patterns very powerful toolIncreases ability to play and judge the seasonExperienced operator required to achieve accuracyThorough understanding and assessment of sub soil constraints requiredAccurate measurement of plant rooting depth vitalSoil type specific – need greater understanding of within field variation
  • 10. Using Yield Prophet And VRT Zone Management To Reduce Seasonal Risk Test Strips located over Yield Prophet sites
  • 11. Shallow Roots due to Al Toxicity
  • 12. Deep Rooting depth – No Sub soil Constraint
  • 13. Acid Soils Zone 1 & 2 Zone 3-Reduced Tillering -Deeper rooting depth-Less heads / m² -Visual root growth to 1.2m-Shallow Rooting depth 30 / 40cm -Soil moisture assessable to roots-Bulge of soil N built up -Greater access to soil nitrogen- not accessed by roots -Lower risk soil type = less yield Variability Moisture 30 – 40cm Very high soil N pre sowing not accessible by plant roots
  • 14. Integration Of Yield Prophet & EM 38 Soil Mapping To Develop VRT Cropping Systems EM 38 & Gamma Radiometrics used to develop production zones within fields. Yield Prophet sites located within each soil zone Soil characterization of each production zone – (PAWC / Zone) Long Term Yield prediction with Yield Prophet climate change report Up to 2 T / ha variation in long term ave yield within field, all due to variation in PAWC
  • 15. Nola Downs 2010 VRT Research Trial Results
  • 16. Nola Downs D1 – Management Zone / YieldBlue Zone – High Input - High Clay content Sand Burnt off 38 - 50% screeningsGreen Zone Standard inputs – Good sand Highest Yield - 30% ScreeningsRed Zone – Low inputs – Poor Acid sand - 8.2% Screenings Low Standard High 23.6N,7.6P,5.9K 34.7N,10.6P,10.7K 45.9N,13.7P,10.7K
  • 17. Zone 3 High Input Zone 2 Standard InputZone 3 Low Input
  • 18. Nola Downs D1 Yield & Change in GM from VRT Nitrogen and Phosphate Trial Zone 1 Decreased Yield with Increased inputs Nola Downs D1 Wheat Yield / Soil zone Zone 2 Yield increase with Standard inputs not significant 2.5 Zone 3 High inputs = Reduced yield (Screening 38 – 50%) 2Wheat yield (t/ha) Dry Finish lowest inputs best 23N; 7.6P, 5.9K – finishing rain would be vastly different 1.5 1 34N; 10.6P,8.3K 0.5 GM / Ha (Fert Only) / Soil Zone 45N; 13.77P,10.7K 800 0 1 2 3 700 Soil zone 600 GM (fert only) 500 23N; 7.6P, 5.9K 400Zone 1 $92 increase in GM by Decreasing inputs 300 34N; 10.6P,8.3K 200Zone 2 $9 increase in GM by decreasing inputs 100Screenings 30% more rain would respond to inputs 45N; 13.77P,10.7K 0Zone 3 Made $15 / Ha by decreasing inputs 1 2 3Screenings up to 50% - Burnt off Soil zone
  • 19. Questions