Royston Hosts Mac Valley Field Day

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

THE Newell Family’s “Royston” was home to the Macintyre Valley Field Day last week.

More than 200 cotton producers and industry representatives as well as busloads of university students from Armidale and Sydney settled in amongst the flourishing Bollgard III crops.

The property is home to several trials by Monsanto and the CSIRO.

After several guest speakers the day culminated in a barbecue and panel session facilitated by Goondiwindi agronomist and UNE lecturer Brendan Griffiths

“Veteran” Phillip Sloan – it was his 23rd Field Day – was there to hand over the Cargill Cotton Consistency Award that went to the Macintyre Downs team with a yield of 13.8.

There were numerous highlights.

Goanna Telemetry Systems is company recently formed by a local group of agronomists, electronics engineers and computer programmers that are developing sensing equipment for agricultural applications.

Tom Dowling was on hand to explain the advances in telemetry.

Telemetry is a highly automated communications process by which measurements and data are collected at remote or inaccessible points and transmitted to receiving equipment for monitoring, on-farm to monitor water levels and access points.

The vision of the Goanna Telemetry is to produce devices to aid farmers in monitoring the weather and the condition of their crops to enable them to be more efficient.

Goanna currently has a range of weather stations that are connected to the Next G network and can send data back to central server for display on internet browsers and mobile phone devices.

Users can look at live weather data from these stations wherever they can get an internet service. “In a good year we have roughly 400 sites,” Tom said.

Goanna’s electrical soil moisture probes can monitor soil moisture profile of a crop and report back to the server.

This enables farmers to calculate irrigation timings and to keep tabs on soil conditions such as compaction layers or poor root development.

Large farms can know the rainfall amounts at various sites around the farm using remote rain gauge devices.

Other highlights

Tom Luff and Tony May from Monstanto were on hand to focus on the BGIII.

THE release of the next-generation insect-resistant cotton, Bollgard III, is likely to be available in the late 2016 season.

The modified lines, which contain a gene from the soil bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis or Bt, have dramatically reduced the need for spraying cotton plants for insects.

The future of farming

Bradley Donald and the team from B&W Rural introduced drones for crop management .

One man in the crowd headed online to purchase one before the demonstration had even finished.

“It all began with a DYI kit flying it around and watching it crash.” They have since upgraded several times.

The latest model referred to by Bradley as “The Bird” was purchased from Ag Eagle in the United States of America. The $26, 000 drone was hand-delivered by a technician which was lucky as “the first flight on Australian soil it “chased” the ground. The GPS was set for somewhere in the U.S.”

The whole system is programmed using GPS technology.

Using the drones requires the use of an aviation radio to make sure the skies are clear for the 30 minute flight time.

During that 30 minutes 600 high-resolution images can be captured, and a real time video can be accessed on an Ipad app to see exactly what the drone is seeing.

B&W Rural is currently offer image mapping at $2.50 a hectare which allows growers to view their crop in its entirety, where its thin or thick, where there has been hail damage.

Commercial drones are available for use on property below 400 feet and cost begins around $1500.

“I’m trying to muster some cattle out of forage sorghum this might be perfect,” one farmer said.

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