Site Specific Management

Attaching a yield monitor to the cane harvester is a great starting point for site specific management of cane blocks, something that is being trialled in the Mossman sugarcane-growing area.

Mossman Agricultural Services’ Daryl Parker worked with Brie Brie Farms on the project.

The yield monitor showed how variable the crop was as it was being harvested.  The data was used - along with soil samples, electrical conductivity and evaluation mapping - to identify causes of variables and to get the best out of each part of the cane block.   See below for full story…

Mossman Agricultural Services’ Daryl Parker wants to better understand what is behind the inevitable variables in each cane block, and then create well-informed management options to deal with them.

He says site specific management can lead to win-win situations for growers and the environment, with more targeted use of fertilisers one of the end results of a method also known as precision agriculture.

After trialling a yield monitor on the Brie Brie harvester, he could consider data outlining the variations in yield for each cane block and could then develop yield maps to analyse variability. The maps were used alongside soil mapping, soil sampling results and digital evaluation modelling. Together, they returned highly accurate information identifying areas of low and high yield, water-logging, moisture deficiencies etc.

Site specific management builds on farmers’ years of experience and observations. Large sugarcane blocks can be divided into smaller management zones so farmers address actual needs of each part of the block rather than the average needs of the whole block.

With the information, farmers can refine fertiliser use, improve efficiencies and better understand soil types in production areas. They can also plan for better drainage or laser levelling in sections of cane blocks.

Daryl Parker is confident the results from the Brie Brie Farms trial can be applied to the greater Mossman area.

“Through the project we have developed a monitor that can be fitted to virtually any harvester,” he says.

“This kind of precision agriculture has the potential to deliver tangible, real benefits to the sugar industry.  The benefits are in terms of both productivity and environmental outcomes.”

The Mossman trial is the result of Terrain NRM’s Reef Rescue Innovation Funding program. The program, which was funded by the Australian Government, helps growers to develop their ideas through on-farm trial projects. It also helps them to link with technical advice, identify and overcome barriers to developing innovations and bring proven ideas into the mainstream.