Smart Farming Partnership

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This project will deliver on two broad themes, addressing soil acidification and building farm resilience

Southern Farming Systems (SFS) have received a $3.64 million, four year National Landcare Smart Farming Partnerships Project called Building the resilience and profitability of cropping and grazing farmers in the high rainfall zone of Southern Australia.

The Grains Research and Development Corporation are contributing a further $250,000

The project involves a consortium including the MacKillop Farm Management Group, Agriculture Kangaroo Island, Federation University Australia, the Victorian Lime Producers and Australian Fertiliser Services Association, private business Precision Agriculture, Agriculture Victoria and the Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority.  It covers the high rainfall areas of Tasmania, Southern Victoria and South East South Australia.

The project will deliver on two broad themes, addressing soil acidification and providing critical information and processes to help farmer and advisor make more informed decisions (called building farm resilience).

The soil acidification theme will improve decision around the use of lime.  Crop and pasture yield response curves to liming and acidification rate information will be enhanced, new technologies that may better characterise lime quality and movement through the soil will be evaluated along with further development of the precision application of lime.  The emerging issue of acidification below 10 cm is also being investigated to discover novel methods of subsurface amelioration.

This information will be brought together in a spatial calculator than enables farmers and advisors to easily work out the economic return to liming over time and identify which lime supplies give the best value for money.

The building farm resilience theme brings together three important pieces of information farmers should consider when making a decision – current pasture growth, predictions of future growth and prices.

The first piece is the amount of stored soil moisture and soil temperature, as these factors drive pasture growth. The extensive soil moisture network operated by SFS will be enhanced and expanded to provide better real time and paddock scale information. The project is also working with the AgVic Fast Break team to provide more localised short and long term climate forecast information.

Along with knowing what water is available, another component involves developing a new satellite based pasture monitoring service to fill the gap after the demise of the CSIR0’s Pasture from Space program. It will enable estimates of feed on offer and pasture growth rates.  The new service will be of higher resolution, have the ability to penetrate clouds and have calibrations that better suit pastures in the Southern High Rainfall Zone.

The third piece is knowing commodity prices.  The Grain and Graze AgPrice guide, which contains historic commodity prices, will be improved to provides ‘real time’ commodity information.

Even with this information it takes skill in weighing up each piece of information to make informed decisions that suits an individual farming business.  The final piece in the Building Farm Resilience theme is around the skill of decision making.  Training opportunities will be offered to help farmers and advisors build their decision making skills.

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