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Precision Technology Delivers Diverse Benefits

Written by corres2

Investing in precision agriculture has provided Cust
farmer Roscoe Taggart with environmental, social, and
financial benefits that help to continuously improve his
family’s 730-hectare arable and sheep
operation.

Cust
farmer Roscoe Taggart examines his parsnip seed crop which
is bound for Europe

Roscoe is
participating in a six-month farming innovation project,
which examines how the next generation of farmers are using
innovative approaches to improve their farming practices.
Waimakariri Landcare Trust (WLT) and Waimakariri Irrigation
Limited (WIL) have partnered with the Ministry for Primary
Industries (MPI) for the project, with support from MPI’s
Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund along with
Environment Canterbury, Ballance, and DairyNZ.

At the
start of the project Roscoe applied variable rate nitrogen
fertiliser with nitrogen sensors attached to the roof of his
tractor which has proven to be a game changer by applying
the precise amount of fertiliser required for each
paddock.

Having experienced the benefits of being able
to apply variable rate nitrogen in real time, Roscoe has
followed this up by grid sampling his farm in blocks to
improve the efficiency of spreading fertiliser, while also
reducing costs and environmental
impacts.

“Traditionally we have done a standard soil
test which is a transect across a paddock with about five or
six samples. With grid sampling we are taking a sample every
hectare and after we put this information into our variable
rate spreader, we can spread our fertiliser in a much more
educated way.

“This is especially important when you
are doing your base application because if you get this
right, you will get an even crop, and this has many flow-on
effects.”

By applying his fertiliser in such a
precise manner Roscoe anticipates growing crops that are
more even which will make crop management much easier over
the season.

“You will have everything happening at
the same time in terms of the growth stages and a more even
crop when it is time to harvest.

“Financially you
are better off too as it makes your yield more even. You do
have to invest more upfront with new technology, but it is
well worth it when you consider the long-term
benefits.”

The environmental and social benefits of
applying the right amount of fertiliser at the correct time
are also important to Roscoe.

“One of the biggest
things we have got going on now in agriculture is our inputs
and leaching. If we use science and technology to apply only
what is needed to each paddock, then we are ticking boxes
all over the place. Above all else, it is the right thing to
do.

“From my perspective we need to prove that we
meet the requirements to keep our social licence to operate
and it is important to do the right thing on farm for our
wider
community.”

© Scoop Media

 


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