Bowen grower gains through VRT

Bowen grower gains through VRT

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HEALTHY: Bowen grower Carl Walker with some of his healthy crops thanks to exploring variable rate systems to overcome inconsistencies.

HEALTHY: Bowen grower Carl Walker with some of his healthy crops thanks to exploring variable rate systems to overcome inconsistencies.

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Improved soil health has led to increased yields and more consistent crops for one Bowen veggie grower.

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BOWEN veggie grower Carl Walker has increased yields and produced a more consistent crop after adopting variable rate technology on his farm.

Mr Walker runs Phantom Produce from his property, where he produces capsicums, cherry tomatoes and cucumbers for both domestic and export markets.

Mr Walker has been working with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries over the last two years in a bid to overcome inconsistency in his crops.

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DAF agronomist Sarah Limpus said the ongoing project aimed to advance the adoption of variable rate (VR) technology and practices to optimise the placement of fertiliser, amendments and irrigation in intensively cropped and irrigated horticulture in Great Barrier Reef catchments.

In 2016, Vantage NEA precision agronomist Bryan Granshaw used the Trimble Soil Information System (SiS) to conduct soil analysis on Mr Walker’s property.

Mr Granshaw said the SiS was able to determine locations within Mr Walker’s field that were substantially different to the rest of the field’s soil.

“These points are then further investigated with a unique Soil Probe, the soil is collected and sent to a chemistry lab to be surveyed,” he said.

Using results from the survey, a variable rate application map was developed for gypsum, as the SiS analysis determined 53 per cent of the farm was affected by sodicity.

Mr Walker applied between 0 to 10 tonnes a hectare of gypsum across 32 ha of his property in attempt to manage sodicity levels.

After two years of repeated VR gypsum applications, Mr Walker’s farm was retested using SiS and results found a 43 per cent reduction in land affected by sodicity.

Mr Walker said the SiS technology has proven to be accurate, beneficial and profitable and the proof was in his crops.

“Over the two years, we’ve seen an increase in yields but mostly, we’ve been able to produce a more consistent crop,” he said.

“Walking through the paddocks, you’ll see sections that used to struggle aren’t anymore.

“The crop’s more even.”

Mr Walker said the technology was a great way to lower input costs and maximise profits.

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