Advanced Cropping Systems Project

The LandWISE project on Advanced Cropping Systems was funded under MAF Sustainable Farming Fund Project C08-111, “Using Advanced Technology to Create Sustainable Cropping Systems”.

The Foundation for Arable Research (FAR) was the key project partner, taking the lead in arable research and in South Island activities.

Project Goal

Advanced cropping systems integrating GPS technology are a key to improving sustainability. Well designed systems can reduce overall capital investment in farm equipment, reduce energy, labour and chemical inputs, and lift soil carbon content, soil quality and yield potential. But while GPS is increasingly used by crop farmers, very few are getting the full benefits that can be captured. This project will advance the uptake of new technologies to raise productivity, cut costs and emissions and enhance farm economic and environmental resilience.

Case Study Farms

The Advanced Cropping Systems project is well established with twelve farms selected across the country. Each is concentrating on an aspect of Advanced Cropping Systems of particular interest and relevance to that property. The focus farms provide opportunities to test and observe techniques being developed, implemented and refined.

For details of each Case Study Click Here>

Sponsors

LandWISE was formed in 1999. For this project it joined with FAR and HortNZ and others to represent cropping farmers, associated industries and the wider community. This project drew on crop farmers in arable, maize, and vegetable sectors together with regional councils, equipment manufacturers and suppliers. It spanned New Zealand to benefit the wider community through improved environmental, climate change and financial outcomes.  Gold Sponsors are listed in the side panel.

What are Advanced Cropping Systems?

Advanced Cropping systems incorporate information technology (generally integrating GPS technology). LandWISE sees such technologies as key to improving sustainability. Well designed systems can reduce overall capital investment in farm equipment, reduce energy, labour and chemical inputs, and lift soil carbon content, soil quality and yield potential.

GPS is increasingly used by crop farmers, but to date very few are getting the full benefits that can be captured. The “Advanced Cropping Systems” project helped advance the uptake of new technologies to raise productivity, cut costs and emissions and enhance farm economic and environmental resilience.

The Twelve Case Study Farms

Twelve farms around NZ were selected as focus farms where case studies of various aspects of advanced cropping systems were being developed. The farms were spread through Hawke’s Bay, Waikato , Manawatu, Pukekohe, Gisborne and Canterbury. They presented exciting examples of advancing with technology on their farms.

Cases followed on these farms ranged through advanced weed management, (RTK GPS guided mechanical weeding and GPS controlled spraying), GPS controlled contouring and drainage and controlled traffic in arable and vegetable crops. Other cases focused on data management, zonal management and implementing GPS into a farming system.

The common theme was increasing profitability, and improving soil and farm resilience in the face of climate change.

In most cases, the case study farms had invested in high quality GPS and auto-steer systems. Auto steer tractor systems link tractor steering controls to the GPS. Hands-free driving is more accurate and leaves drivers free to check equipment function, observe crop health or talk on the phone. These self steer systems greatly improve accuracy in planting and weeding operations through the ability to drive in consistently straight lines with centimetre accuracy.

Fitted with RTK-GPS and auto-steer, tractors like this can return to the same spot month after month with considerable accuracy – within only 1 or 2 cm. This allows farmers to create cropping systems that were previously just not practical.

The high accuracy allows a number of changes to farm practice, including: strip-till cultivation, banded fertiliser placement and precision planting done at different times, without straying, detailed mechanical weeding, with cultivators set very close to crop plants, controlled trafffic farming, with wheel tracking reliably in the same place; pass after pass, year after year.

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