In a world of diminishing resources and ever growing demand for food, developing sustainable and highly productive methods of farming is a must.
New technology and precision agriculture can help farmers to optimise their wealth of experience, knowledge and land stewardship to maximise yield and preserve resources for the next generation.
Precision agriculture tools, from yield monitors to the testing and mapping of soil pH levels, can allow growers to compile and analyse data on an unprecedented level in terms of quantity and specificity. This information can then be used to inform decisions on crop and herbicide rotation, and distribution of materials such as fertilisers and fungicides.
This technology can help growers not only to maximise yield in the short term, but also to monitor the land and further develop sustainable methods of farming in order to preserve the available resources.
Smartphone Apps are being developed that can maximise the productivity of time spent in the field.
These apps can collect data at a rate that would surpass computers, allowing for the collection and analysis of a huge amount of information. Farmers then have instant access to this information and can use it to make decisions while in the field.
This means that disease detection, measurements of nitrogen uptake, potential yields and the identification and quantification of leaf damage will take minutes rather than days.
Sensing technology is also becoming more accessible due to improvements and cost reductions in remote-sensing and local sensing technologies.
Beneficial bacteria in Bayer Biologics assists farmers to give back to the land and leave it in the best possible condition for future generations.
The natural beneficial bacteria ameliorates soil nutrients for crops. After germination, these beneficial bacteria live on plant root surfaces and in the soil zone around the root systems, called rhizosphere. Here, they can develop mutually beneficial relationships with plants under suitable conditions.
When interactions between the bacteria, plants and soil are balanced, both the plants and bacterial populations function at a higher level. This produces robust, stronger plants that also mature faster, leading to increased yield potential.
This includes learning about the broader context of trade, supply and distribution within ag-related industries.
Drones are used for more than just taking high resolution colour images of the farm from above.
As well as being used in controlled traffic farming systems, drone technology is advancing to send sensors to the right locations for data collection. Clever algorithms are being developed to analyse data, such as identifying and counting chlorophyll presence, which is great for horticulture and row cropping.
They can also measure whole field biomass and take normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) images that are loaded onto Variable Rate systems on tractors. This information can inform the variable rate application of in-season urea applications in broadacre crops, and detect areas that need nitrogen or weed control.
The use of drones in modern farming will likely provide more accurate and precise ways of crop monitoring that increase yield, save time and money.
Resistance mapping is an invaluable tool in the ongoing effort to combat global herbicide resistance. In Australia alone, growers annually lose an estimated $1 billion in yield as a result of weeds.
Resistance mapping compiles data gathered throughout years of research and development, and provides an interactive map of areas affected by resistance. By entering a specific postcode, growers can accurately see where resistance has developed, and to which herbicide groups.
This information will allow growers to make precise and informed decisions on crop and herbicide rotation, in order to develop an integrated weed management program that is tailored to their specific location and can be monitored on an ongoing, real-time basis.
Australia's uniquely challenging farming conditions make it the ideal place to trial new chemistry in the ongoing battle against global herbicide resistance.
Australian growers have adapted the way they farm to meet the challenges of a changing climate and growing demand, so it is more important than ever to preserve effective chemistry and develop new solutions.
The Herbicide Innovation Partnership is a unique collaboration between Bayer and the Grains Research and Development Corporation, using state-of-the-art technology and many years of research to develop new chemistry specifically for use in Australia.
Launched in early 2016, the partnership serves not only as a research initiative but also a training facility that will enable young researchers to develop their skills and continue their essential work in the future.
Throughout the five year program, 33 post doctoral students in 3 intakes from Australia and New Zealand will be trained in industrial research skills and will help to develop molecules that will be immediately trialled and optimised in Australian conditions.