We (Joe and Jess) are currently taking part in the ‘Future Farm’ project with a great interest in learning more about our nitrogen management. Future Farm is a large multi-institutional project funded by GRDC and primarily managed by CSIRO, which seeks to improve nitrogen fertiliser decision making through the automated use of crop and soil sensors and other on and off-farm data sources. Our involvement in the project is that we have put forward two of our field as ‘satellite sites’. The idea with the satellite site is that the farmer essentially applies fertiliser as they normally would, perhaps encompassing an N-Rich strip or zero strip. The Future Farm team take a variety of soil and plant tissue samples in the strip trials along with data from N sensors. We also provide all the historical mapping data for the fields including protein and yield.
We collect a lot of data and can use it to a point, but to have a researcher, with a statistical background, go through this is really valuable. There are benefits in seeing data from other trials in SA on similar soils and gaining an in-depth data breakdown. Nitrogen is an expensive fertiliser input and is often applied without a lot of background information to support ‘where, when and how much’ to put on. We hope we can enhance our N decision making through the information learnt in this trial.
Early results from the field-based component of the research confirms the idea that an N fertiliser decision is a multivariate decision in which many factors contribute to the decision. That is, reliance on crop canopy sensing alone is unlikely to be effective. Further work is aimed at developing appropriate multivariate models to support improved, site-specific N fertiliser decision making (Andre Colaco, 2020). The yield data and protein data from this year’s ‘Sand’ paddock have recently been sent to the team at CSIRO for analysis, we look forward to hearing about their findings!
If you'd like to see more of what CSIRO are doing and how they're helping change the future of farming, check out their website HERE