Southland Branch: Ravensdown Breakfast Pioneering to Precision

Location: Invercargill Workingmens Club, 154 Esk Street, Invercargill, New Zealand

Date: 28/06/2017

Time: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM

Ravensdown Breakfast "Pioneering to precision" Primary Growth Partnership.

The programme goal:

Develop remote sensing technology to improve the identification of nutrient requirements for the farm and apply the right amount of fertiliser precisely for maximum pasture growth increasing fertiliser use efficiency over the farm.

Assessing soil fertility is very challenging on hill country farms and manual soil sampling to a high degree of detail to improve precision of fertiliser application is impractical and certainly not cost effective.Recent advances in remote sensing and imaging mean that there is a real potential for these technologies to improve assessment of nutrient requirements in hill country.

What does the programme involve?

In conjunction with MPI, Ravensdown has entered into a Primary Growth Partnership aimed at developing a more comprehensive method of assessing soil nutrient status on hill country farms which will inform the fertiliser strategies outlined above. Ravensdown is working with its research partners Massey University and AgResearch to achieve these goals. The programme is in its fourth year of a scheduled seven years.

Implications for Sheep/beef farms:

  • The costs and benefits of applying a blanket dressing of a single rate of fertiliser (superphosphate) over average North and South Island hill country breeding/finishing sheep and beef farms were recently compared to those of a variable rate fertiliser application strategy. The variable rate strategy means that fertiliser was applied only to effective areas of pasture and at different rates to different blocks to optimise the pasture production based on potential to grow more and farmer production objectives. This analysis has shown a compelling value proposition of an average $43/ha gain in favour of variable rate over a blanket approach, with a range of $21 to $79/ha.
  • If the Pioneering to Precision programme is successful in developing remote sensing technology to improve the identification of the current soil fertility status of hill country farms further significant gains can be made in implementing these variable rate fertiliser strategies on farm.
  • Additional gains from more accurately avoiding ineffective areas across hill country farms will also add to the returns from using Intellispread TM technology. Depending on the size and location of the ineffective areas, it is estimated that these gains can add savings of $5/ha annually.
  • The application of fertiliser precisely via a prescription map (proof of placement) will be a key tool to enable hill country farms to comply within the bounds of a fast changing environmental regulatory situation in New Zealand.

Ravensdown is kindly sponsoring the breakfast for this event.

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