Monday, 2 May 2016

Research shared at Hill Country Symposium


Read the full research paper here

Michael White and Dr Ants Roberts (Innovation and Strategy experts here at Ravensdown) presented research supporting the current advice given to farmers on where the best value for their fertiliser investment is, at the recent Beef & Lamb Hill Country Symposium in Rotorua.

“Hill country farmers face unique challenges in optimising productivity due to the variability of topography and soil moisture. That is part of the reason why soil fertility to date has not always been optimised and has held hill country farmers pasture productivity potential back,” says Dr Ants Roberts.

There is a legacy of information from these trials that says there is opportunity for hill country farmers to take their nutrient applications to the next level given the technology developments.

Research models undertaken at Limestone Downs in the Waikato, showed switching to variable rate spreading resulted in an immediate saving of $20,000 by reducing the amount of superphosphate needed by 129 tonnes. This saving was achieved by not spreading fertiliser on non-productive areas of the farm. The 2% increase in efficiency of fertiliser use and increase in pasture growth and stock carried, also led to a cash surplus increase of 3%.

“Rather than treating the whole farm with blanket applications, we can be wiser about our fertiliser investments spreading variable rates of the required nutrients to different land management units as and where appropriate. That starts with arming ourselves with the right information.”

Our Pioneering to Precision Primary Growth Partnership research team leader Michael White, said the research project aims to provide farmers with the ability to tailor their fertiliser application to make the most of their expenditure by removing the soil testing barriers of geography.

We’re aiming to bring affordable soil testing from the sky to all farmers using remote sensing technology which assesses the nutrient status of the farm from the plane.

The technology is currently being calibrated on eight hill country farms across both the North and South Islands. The data will be integrated with our Smart Maps system and spreader planes as well as Overseer, and developed alongside placement verification technology.

“Pushing the boundaries and evolving our thinking will open doors for hill country farming,” added Dr Roberts, “In terms of optimising soil fertility we see an exciting future for hill country farmers by extracting the best value for their investment and improving their resilience.”

Visit the NZ Grassland Association to view all the research papers presented