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APA 10. Repeatability is Essential - Wegener Case Study
15 Apr 2009
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9. Repeatability is Essential - Wegener Case Study

Charlie and Roslyn Wegener farm 940ha on the Brigalow Jimbour Floodplain. Charlie considers himself as a “custodian of his farm” and consequently places a lot of importance on looking at his farming system from an environmental point of view and not just from a production perspective.

Charlie considers the four main factors in farming from firstly an environmental-sustainability perspective, those being firstly, erosion, then Soil structure, Weeds, and finally Compaction. From a production point of view the main things he considers are Compaction, then Soil structure, Weeds, and Erosion. In a farming system he tries to implement practices so that these objectives aren’t contradictory. Charlie recognises that you can get contradictions when you add to this the economy and risk. But if you’re in a fortunate position where these two factors don’t impact on the production and environmental objectives, then Charlie believes you can achieve the best for the farm environment you manage.

Charlie’s farming system is based on a zero tillage practice on control tracks. The purchase of the 2cm accurate GPS technology has produced the following results for Charlie: ~ It provides sustainable and repeatable increments for himself and contractors to follow during spraying, planting, fertilising or any other farming procedure; ~ It reduces soil compaction as a result of accurate trafficking on a full range of zero till practices; ~ Better stubble retention; ~ Precision in application of chemical, fertiliser and seed; and finally ~ Reducing the incidence of error in all operations.

He identifies compaction as being his biggest problem. He has conducted his own yield loss estimates and believes that compaction can reduce a three tonne crop to a one tonne crop. That’s what makes the RTK system so valuable to his farming enterprise. Charlie recognises that the repeatability factor is more important than the 2cm accuracy, because it allows you to eliminate compaction effects in crop consistently for the majority of the farming operations. Admittedly, it will fall short come harvest as they hire contractors for this operation – and given that harvest equipment tends to be on a 3m base, and his planting and spraying equipment are on 2m bases.

Charlie states that the “precision and repeatability allows for [the] adoption of further technologies as they become available” - future technologies that affect soil fertility, disease, crop stubble, and yields. Quote “If you keep yourself in a narrow system you limit your options a little bit” unquote. By going to a 2cm accuracy it opens up Charlie's options and reduces the likely-hood of technology adoption lags for his business and resources.

Thanks must go to Charlie and Roslyn Wegener for their participation in the Case study series and to all partners of the project.

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