TECHNOLOGY TRIUMPH AT TAIC
2018 was a big year for our friends at FarmLink. Hutcheon & Pearce was happy to be able to partner with them on their farming system change at the Temora Agricultural Innovation Centre (TAIC).
Here we caught up with Eva Moffitt, Senior Research Officer at FarmLink, to discuss what was involved in this change and the outcomes of the 2018 harvest.
For TAIC, the 2018 change in farming system involved moving from a conventional tyne-based system to a controlled traffic, disc-seeded, stubbled-retained system with a greater focus on using technology to increase efficiency and profitability.
“This transition has been enabled through a five-year agreement with Hutcheon & Pearce who are providing equipment and support for TAIC during this period.”
This transition involved a number of steps:
- Accurate surveying of the TAIC paddock boundaries to prepare for controlled traffic farming (CTF). This enabled TAIC to create a set of boundaries and guidance lines that will be used by all machinery working on the farm.
- Seeding with a John Deere 1890 single-shoot disc seeder with 1910 air cart. This assembly proved beneficial to crop establishment by conserving limited soil moisture at seeding through limited soil disturbance.
- Collection and interpretation of data to inform nutrition decisions for the 2018 season. This included an EM38 survey during April, which was used as the primary data layer to develop soil management zones across TAIC. All data was uploaded and stored on the My John Deere platform, along with seeding, application and yield maps.
- Fertiliser application made with a 5m³ Coolamon trailing spreader, calibrated to a 36m pass width to fit with the 12m controlled traffic farming system. The spreader is Variable Rate enabled and ISOBUS compliant. This technology minimises overlap by shutting the spreader off automatically when the tractor passes over an area that has already been spread.
- Spraying of commercial crops with a 36m R4045 self-propelled sprayer equipped with individual nozzle section control. This technology was particularly beneficial in paddocks containing trials, which were designed to fit within the CTF layout. These areas were mapped in as exclusion areas (nil rates) prior to spray applications, meaning the corresponding nozzles would shut off as the boom passed over them.
- Harvesting with a John Deere S780 harvester and either a John Deere 740D draper front or Shelbourne XCV-42 stripper front. Using the Shelbourne front where possible in cereal paddocks enabled significantly more standing stubble to be retained than in adjacent paddocks where the draper front was used (particularly in the low barley crop).
- JD Link connectivity (wireless telemetry) to provide remote access to the Gen 4 display, as well as automatic syncing of machine data, yield data, alerts and information about fuel consumption, location and the maintenance status of the machine. Accessible from smartphone or laptop, this enabled harvesting to be monitored from the FarmLink office or off-site, which was useful for planning and grain handling logistics.
Eva said that despite the change, TAIC’s performance in 2018 was above average for the farm relative to the conditions.
“Across the board we averaged 1.83 t/ha wheat, 2.73 t/ha barley and 820 kg/ha canola, which we were happy with considering our total growing season rainfall was only 157 mm.”
“The main factors that contributed to our improved performance were: the even establishment obtained from the disc seeder, which enabled us to capitalise on the little available moisture at sowing; and having equipment on hand for timely sowing, spraying, spreading and harvesting.”
Operationally, the technology-enabled John Deere equipment has been of great benefit for TAIC in several ways.
“This ranged from simplifying guidance management/setup of controlled traffic farming systems, to the benefits of section control on the seeder bar and boomspray, particularly working around the 17 ha of trial plots contained within commercially cropped paddocks in 2018.”
“The automatic syncing of coverage and yield data has assisted record keeping and analysis of crop performance through the My John Deere platform. When coupled with other activities undertaken at TAIC this year such as EM38 surveying and grid soil pH, phosphorous and cation exchange capacity (CEC) mapping, we were able to gain a much more precise picture of within-paddock variability, which has fed into site-specific management of a number of inputs.”
“Such inputs going forward will include lime, gypsum and manure, to be spread during February and March 2019 pre-cropping. This will be achieved through the ISOBUS enabled 8370 RT equipped with Gen4 display and Variable Rate equipped 10.5m³ Coolamon trailing spreader (CS105).”
Eva is convinced that access to data has made a significant difference.
“There is no doubt the value of data collection at TAIC to inform these decisions has been huge. It has enabled us to prioritise paddocks for amelioration and accurately match inputs to requirements, allowing us to cut back our inputs in places and stretching our program further.“
“We are excited about the prospects for 2019 and beyond, and look forward to seeing the benefits of our hard work realised through improvements in the productivity and profitability of the farm.”
FarmLink events to look forward to this year
- FarmLink Annual Dinner (June 21)
- Canada Study Trip (July 6-20)
- FarmLink Open Day (September 13)
View the full Summer 2018/19 High Performance Magazine here: