Adoption of precision systems technology in vegetable production (VG16009)
What was it all about?
From 2016 to 2020, this investment supported the vegetable industry in adopting precision agriculture technologies through the establishment of case-study farms in each state for research and extension – including training events and field days – and delivery of a suite of communication materials to showcase potential applications of relevant technologies.
Literature review of precision agriculture technologies
Earlier on in the investment, the research team produced a comprehensive literature review of the ways that precision agriculture technologies can assist vegetable producers. The review investigates the use of various sensors that often capture images, as well as variable rate technology (a shift from uniform crop management), and advances in yield monitoring.
Case study demonstration sites
The establishment of grower led case study sites across Australia allowed the demonstration of a broad range of precision agriculture technology and approaches, therefore encouraging adoption of these methods by vegetable growers. These sites have generated substantial evidence of how precision agriculture technology has been successfully implemented
These sites used methods such as crop sensing imagery, yield forecasting from remotely sensed crop imagery, yield and profit/loss mapping, a range of soil mapping technologies, variable rate application, precision drainage technologies and various drone applications. Over 90 per cent of grower cooperators continued their use of precision agriculture approaches implemented through the project, with 72 per cent also expanding to other precision technologies.
Key insights and learnings from the project
- Spatial variability in vegetable production systems is sufficient to have significant impacts on crop productivity and profitability. Precision agriculture approaches can be implemented to manage this, and the project successfully demonstrated the impact of doing so.
- Precision agriculture adoption in vegetable-growing needs to be targeted at addressing particular issues, rather than focusing on the technologies alone.
- Building capacity in precision agriculture service providers and regional support networks would help to address current limitations in this area that have been identified as a key barrier for adoption in vegetable farms across the country.
- There is a cohort of growers across Australia who are primed and ready for precision agriculture adoption through future investment in this area.
A broad suite of communication outputs were delivered by the project team, including case studies, fact sheets, webinars and industry articles that are available below.
- Using innovative technologies to develop drainage models – Addison Farm Produce
- Using precision soil mapping technologies to understand variability – Alandale Produce
- Using VR technology to manage within-field variability – Armidale Pty Ltd
- Soil mapping for farm development and infrastructure – Capel Farms
- Using PA technologies to manage salinity and sodicity – Fresh Select Farms
- Soil grid mapping and VR application of lime and nutrients – Greenvale
- Using soil sensing technologies to understand irrigation requirements – Jack Abbott
- Practical applications for drones in vegetable production – Mulgowie Farming Company
- Using precision technologies to understand within-field variability – Sun City Exports
- Precision technologies for drainage modelling – Zerella Fresh
- Yield and profitability mapping in carrots - Harvest Moon
- Drones in vegetable systems
- Getting started in PA
- Automated plant counts in broccoli using UAV imagery
- Remote sensing to predict yield of vegetable crops
- Soil mapping in vegetables using EM38
- Soil mapping technologies
- Variable rate technologies
- Yield monitoring in vegetables using load cells
This project was a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund