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Increasing Profitability Through Precision Agriculture

Longmire, P.. 2005. Australian Nuffield Farming Scholars Association

Abstract

After completing my Nuffield Scholarship, it is apparent that the focus in Precision Agriculture has to remain on profit, first and foremost. The aim being in using the instruments of Precision Technology to assist in providing a more profitable solution rather than focusing on supplying a site specific answer. The ongoing development of new technologies will continue to improve the accuracy of these solutions. This report includes visits to numerous regions of the world that have highly varying environments, both soil and climatic, allowing a large variety of production types and levels of associated management. This supplied a wide variety of solutions to effective use of precision agriculture with an emphasis on technology that can be readily adopted into Australian agriculture. The diverse range of farming systems in Australia and their associated climatic conditions, require detailed analysis to determine the most profitable response to each environment. The statement "If you don't measure it, you can't manage it", will become even more relevant as precision technology supplies us with better management tools. The greater the database of information recorded will improve the quality and stability of analysis. A major limitation in the adoption of precision technologies is the numerous sources of components to create a complete system. The combination of information, technology and management have so far created a fragmented precision farming system requiring a highly technical and time consuming effort to gain the true benefits. This report looks at the use of a common platform to combine the various components of a precision farming system with the ability to move data seamlessly between machine, analysis and farm management software. A common response of successful farmers worldwide is that the focus must remain on applying technology that provides a greater return than the ensuing investment. Whilst this report supplies a variety of solutions, it does not replace the underlying factor that initial farming practices must be excellent before considering the investment. By applying decision support systems to current management may provide greater financial gains than intensive zone management. Therefore focusing on overall solutions first will provide a more profitable response relative to the cost of implementation. On my return to Australia, it became apparent as I commenced applying the knowledge that I have gained, that the lack of technical support currently available in this area is limiting farmer adoption. This will only increase as precision agriculture becomes mainstream and provides profitable solutions that can be charged for accordingly. As we are constantly under the pressure of spiralling costs and diminishing returns, we have to continue to develop and apply these technologies to remain at the forefront of world production.