Technology helping farmers get better outcomes for the planet

This is the second in a two part series journalist Matt Da Silva has created with Young Farming Champion Emma Ayliffe to share how Australian farmers are using information and technology gains to move toward #NetZeroFarming.

“We are proud to be adopting new practices that are better for our environment and helping to demonstrate that there are other ways of doing things; and, in my role as an agronomist, sharing this knowledge and learning.”

Farm Overview

Business and/or property name: C & E Pastoral, Gleeson’s

Business partners: Emma Ayliffe and partner Craig and his family

Farm size: 1700 acres (688 hectares)

Farm locality/region: Burgooney, Lake Cargelligo (roughly northwest of Wagga Wagga, in the central west of New South Wales, about 550km from Sydney)

Topography: rolling hills, red loam

Rainfall: 360mm per year

Primary outputs: Wool, first cross lambs, grains (mainly wheat but also some oats, barley and canola)

Secondary outputs: If above average rainfall, may plant canola, chickpeas, mungbeans.

Drone technology allows Emma to map the weeds on the farm. A drone is sent up to find green areas indicating that weeds have started to grow.

Tristan Stevenson from StevTech launching the surveillance drone.

Weeds use moisture that might otherwise be used by crops, and they also harbour insects and disease, so it is important to minimise their occurrence. Sending a drone out with a camera attached that transmits a video of the fields lets us pinpoint the areas that need spraying and reduces the use of chemical sprays. The resulting data maps the weed population and allows us to turn it into a green area map.

This allows us to maintain the best ground cover, control our weeds, and reduce resistance risk.

The StevTech ute with the drone on the ground in front of it.

Weed mapping allows us to minimise our chemical costs by targeting the only areas in the paddock that have weeds. We can often look at using higher value chemistries that may be cost prohibitive if we had to spray it all. Only spraying when we have too also helps avoid chemical resistance.

The following two images shows weed cover of paddocks. In the first image, drone mapping produces a 95 percent saving of chemicals.

Thank you to SteveTech for image

In the second image, drone mapping produces an 83 percent saving of chemicals.

Thank you to SteveTech for the image

Data from the drone mapping is  sent to a computer in the spray rig allowing the rig operator to target chemicals to conform precisely to hotspots where weeds are specifically concentrated. The following image shows what is displayed in the spray rig during application of chemicals, the olive green circles on the screen are the weeds being sprayed. Learn more about broadacre cropping weed detection here

The great thing about this technology is that we can utilise the machinery and systems that we already have, so don’t have to spend a lot of money on new equipment.

Thank you Matt and Emma for these insights on how modern farmers are minimising their use of herbicides to get better outcomes for farmers, consumer and the planet. Read how Matt blogged Emma’s story here

Improving farming’s productive efficiency will enable farmers to produce the same quantity of food, or more, with less
inputs, in smarter ways. This, in turn, will enable the sector to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

We can all be part of the solution. The cost of food waste to the Australian economy is estimated to be around $20 billion each year. Australian consumers throw away around 3.1 million tonnes of food—that’s close to 17,000 grounded 747 jumbo jets.

The impact of food waste also includes the energy, fuel and water used to grow food that may not be used. When food waste is sent to landfill, it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

To help address this important issue, the Australian Government committed in 2016 to develop a National Food Waste Strategy to establish a framework to support actions that work towards halving Australia’s food waste by 2030. This ambitious goal aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12 for sustainable consumption and production patterns

Join the movement and Fight Food Waste 

#NetZeroFarming #TogetherWeCan #YouthinAg