Away with the hoe and in with the RTK GPS sub-2cm inter-row sowing
It takes but a quick glimpse over current agricultural machinery to understand the complexity, high level of technology and sophistication involved with growing a crop. In Australia approximately 70% of farmers have adopted some form of GPS guidance. The most accurate guidance (Real Time Kinematic or RTK GPS – uses a base station) is so precise that it can move off the track no more than the thickness of two iPhones! It certainly has more computing power too, collecting up to 100MB per paddock of data on fuel consumption, seeding rate, amount of grain harvested whilst signalling control valves and solenoids to open and close based on position. I could go on about how fantastic this technology is (I’m a bit of a sucker for innovation) and how far advanced Australian farmers are but videos paint a thousand pictures so check these out below.
The first example is a completely autonomous tractor towing a ‘chaser’ bin allowing the harvester to unload on the run! The tractor waits on the sidelines and is summoned at the press of a button.
This next video is filmed in WA. The boom of the sprayer is fitted with a number of GreenSeeker weed detectors illuminating the ground with infrared and red light to detect any green foliage. The spray nozzle is only activated over a weed, reducing herbicide (weed-killer) usage by up to 90%.
The sensors in this video function by measuring the reflected light from the sun to detect green foliage and similar to the method above, only spraying weeds.
Inter-row sowing is a great example of GPS accuracy. The seeder can place seed between the previous stalks (known as stubble) of last year’s wheat without disturbing a single one! This technique improves water retention, soil carbon storage and protects the young seedling from wind and heavy rain.
And finally sometimes not doing anything becomes boring:
Stay tuned for more videos and information on how far advanced current agriculture really is! Next week: Drones.