Mechanical cultivation processes lead to a breakdown in soil structure, decreased microbial activity and decreased water use efficiency, resulting in decreased production potential. For this reason we have introduced no-till farming methods at Australian agricultural assets.
Summer weeds are controlled via chemical rather than mechanical means. Stubble from the previous crop is left on the fields whenever possible, with all moisture from summer rains conserved for the winter crop. The crop is planted in one operation; a small disc or narrow tine creates the seed furrow, seed & fertiliser is placed in the furrow, then a closer plate and press wheel ensure good seed soil contact. Soil between rows is untouched.
Fields are mapped using methods that include satellite imagery, electromagnetic surveys and soil tests, to create a zone map of each field’s soil characteristics. We create variable rate application GPS maps for our farming machinery. For example a seeder’s GPS controller automatically adjusts the nitrogen and phosphorus based on exact soil characteristics rather than an average for the field. At harvest yield maps determine the exact amount of phosphorus removed across the field, we use that data for the next seeding to ensure we only add back the same amount.
These technologies ensure fertiliser is only placed where needed, cost is minimised and production maximised. They also promote improved soil structure, microbial activity, moisture conservation, soil moisture holding capacity and plant rooting depth, increased plant-available moisture and therefore increased production potential.