Bringing costs down while boosting productivity is the driving force behind precision agriculture.
Precision agriculture is the focus of episode two in the AgTech Revolution series, the multipart documentary produced by Lightbridge Productions, exploring agriculture's digital transformation.
Deloitte partner and co-lead agrifood transformation and circularity Ben van Delden said precision agriculture gave farmers the ability to drill down on farm data.
"Precision agriculture is about having a granular perspective on a plant, or an animal, and its performance," he said.
Agrifutures managing director John Harvey said precision agriculture could help farmers decide where best to spend their money.
"The Australian landscape is highly variable so there'll be patches of soil where putting lots of fertiliser on is a great idea and there's other patches where you're wasting your money," he said.
Sixth generation farmer Paul Jarrett combines traditional farming values with cutting-edge technology as part of his Jarrett Farming enterprise at Maitland in SA.
He said weeds were an issue every farmer around the world fights.
"It's crucial you get on top of them, you can't afford to let them get away," he said.
"The impact that weeds have on your crop can be massive, in the fact that it takes out yield, it takes out moisture and it takes out nutrients. There's a whole range of things that weeds will smash you on."
Mr Jarrett said with weeds like fleabane becoming increasingly harder to kill, he was going to the next step in a bid to keep on top of weeds.
He has partnered with Hardi Australia to test and trial precision farming solution GeoSelect.
Hardi Australia innovation manager Heath Thompson said Mr Jarrett had been a great partner in the research and development process.
"He's got a lot of diverse paddocks and he's good at giving us feedback," he said.
Mr Thompson said solving problems for farmers was the main driver in his work.
"If you ask farmers how we can make their life easier, weeds is usually an issue top of the list," he said.
He said by getting spray timing right, farmers could see a return on investment in as little as a year.
Mr Jarrett explained how GeoSelect worked on his farm.
"In a nutshell, we've got a paddock, we'll fly it with a drone and what we're doing is mapping the paddock for weeds," he said.
"It's working out what percentage (of that paddock) is to be targetted and that data is put straight into our Hardi Rubicon sprayer. We then go out with a GPS on our sprayer, into that same field that's been drone mapped and it will selectively spray, targetting those weeds."
Mr Jarrett said a major benefit of using this system was being able to keep his options open on what crops to grow.
"We want the ability to grow most crops every year," he said.
He said the other major benefit was that the soil health, by not blanket spraying, was much better.
Mr Jarrett's agronomist Dylan Southwood, from J&D Southwood, said there were major benefits from effective weed control.
"Weeds at the end of the day are a significant cost to a grower, whether it be through the cost of having to apply herbicide or the cost of machinery to deal with weeds, and through the growing season they cause significant competition to crops, which affects yield in turn," he said.
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