LandWISE project creates cost savings for farmers
From, The Farmlands Shareholder, September 2009.
When fuel prices went through the roof last year, LandWISE was already working with farmers using technology to reduce fuel costs on their farms.
These tools are used by LandWISE farmers to implement Advanced Farming Systems to improve their farm returns.
LandWISE Manager Dan Bloomer and Project Co-ordinator James Powrie are working with farmers from around New Zealand. Twelve farmers, spread through Hawke’s Bay, Waikato, Manawatu, Pukekohe, Gisborne and Canterbury, have stepped up as case study farms in the Sustainable Farming Fund Advanced Farming Systems project.
The farmers have all invested in high quality GPS and auto-steer systems. Their common theme is increasing profitability and improving soil and farm resilience in the face of climate change.
Farmlands is a key sponsor of the LandWISE Advanced Farming Systems project. The project aims to promote the successful use of technologies such as GPS, to slash fuel consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, cut other inputs and enhance soil quality on farms.
Hugh Ritchie, a board member of LandWISE Incorporated and one of the case study farmers says, “LandWISE researches important farm projects that might otherwise not be tackled. We are a small organization with a strong track record for producing new, practical solutions for arable and crop farmers.”
LandWISE provides an umbrella under which farmers, growers, industry and research organisations can gather. They discuss, develop and implement feasibility trials using these technologies.
Advanced farming systems have resulted in increased production and substantial fuel, labour and equipment savings for Gisborne maize grower and LandWISE board member, David Clark.
After many years of conventional cropping, experiencing soil compaction, poor soil structure and reduced earthworm presence on his farm, David has developed the use of GPS to control traffic.
‘Controlled Traffic’ means the same wheel tracks or ‘tramlines’ are used for all tractor operations. This results not only in increased production and time saving, but also in substantial financial savings for the business.
Each year, high accuracy Real-Time Kinematic (RTK) GPS positioning technology and self-steering keeps operations on exactly the same tracks. This results in restricted soil compaction, improved soil quality, better yields and increased earthworm activity.
Today, David runs two tractors instead of four, has halved his fuel costs and reduced labour costs too. Localised soil compaction in the permanent tramlines is now an asset that supports equipment, with the “garden” growing between them free from the damage from tractor tyres.
GPS and auto-steering is key to improved accuracy and makes the job less demanding, resulting in reduced fatigue and increased productivity. GPS is an investment that is changing the way people farm, with immediate and long term benefits.
To find out more about LandWISE and Advanced Farming Systems go to www.landwise.org.nz