Thursday 7 July 2016

Managing Environmental Compliance with Precision VRI and EM Mapping

Farm Fast facts:
Farm Name: Seadown Dairies
Cows Milked: 620
Length of VRI Pivot: 565m
Production: 1705/ha, 278000 KgMS
Pasture Grown/Harvested: 17,000 KgDM /14,500 KgDM
Key Benefits from VRI system: Reduced track maintenance, reduced pugging damage less water wasted.

Sustainable farm management was a major driver behind Brendan Caird’s decision to install Lindsay Growsmart Precision VRI with FieldNET on his 565m pivot. A major feature of the farm is a spring fed stream that flows through the middle of the irrigated area of the property. Totalling an area of approximately 5 ha, the streams and springs add to the visual appearance of the property and have been fenced and planted into a riparian zone. However without VRI effective irrigation management would have been considerably more difficult. By installing the VRI system Brendan is now able to work around mother nature and reduce his farms overall impact on the environment.
Riparian Zone in the middle of the VRI Pivot
The costs of irrigating his races and tracks were also a big part of the equation.

“Stock flows better, track maintenance is reduced and water is not wasted on unproductive areas” says Brendan who uses VRI to improve the conditions on the farm races. Nearly 5Ha of the 93Ha irrigated area is able to be avoided which includes races and waterways which allows Brendan to utilise that saved water elsewhere.

With an allocation of only 3.2mm/ha/Day irrigation practices need to be as efficient as possible at Seadown Dairies to maximise water use for grass production. Brendan also finds benefit in the VRI system to help remove paddocks from the irrigation round that are set to be re-sown. In the case of the 2016 season Caird planted fodder beet and set an irrigation plan to avoid the paddock whilst it was being cultivated. You can see the effects of this below. The yellow is the paddock that was avoided. The pink is for zones that were a part of the avoid zones.
As Applied Irrigation for the season. Note the paddock in Yellow.
Agri Optics conducted an EM survey on the property and the major soil zones were able to be identified see ( for more info). The next step that Brendan and his team are working on is to begin irrigating to the EM soil zone plan. With multiple soil management zones identified on the property the goal is to water according to the relative requirements of each soil zone. This is aided by soil moisture sensing equipment to give the exact time that irrigation is required. Further to this Brendan can also be sure that soils are not being overwatered and water is not being wasted which Brendan says helps make his farm environment plan more comprehensive.

Blog this week by Nick @ Agri Optics
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