In the current climate, it’s more important than ever to use all the tools in the toolbox to cut costs. There’s no better place to start than with more targeted management of your inputs, such as fertiliser. Whether you’re applying manually and need to figure out how to begin using Precision Ag to lower your costs or you’re a seasoned technology user looking to make some further improvements, it can be tough to know where to start.
Shane, one of our Trimble Hardware Specialists, ran us through the process of applying Precision Nutrient Management (PNM) to your farm operation. Here’s what he had to say.
What’s the leading issue you’re hearing out there right now that leads people to look at PNM?
Right now, it’s all about saving costs and making an impact on the bottom line. The rising cost of fertiliser is making PNM a no-brainer for most farmers and growers as our nutrients just get more expensive.
Where do I start if I’m thinking about using technology to lower input costs?
It all depends. If you’re starting from scratch, we’ll see what equipment, machinery, and data you have already. We walk our customers through the process with a phone call or site visit to see what’s there and what they’ll need to meet their goals.
An essential piece of equipment will be a Display, generally a GFX-750, and a Receiver such as the NAV-900 to get the functionality you need. An ISOBUS connection, such as in the Field IQ system will mean your equipment can talk to any tractor, so you’ll be able to use what you have already. This will allow you to start collecting data using the right Trimble Ag Software, which your local rep will talk you through too.
A lot of customers like to add autosteer into the mix to avoid overlap, which uses excess nutrients, to save costs as well. But again, it depends how much functionality you’re looking for.
If you’re already collecting data with Precision Ag technology, we’ll be looking into what you’re currently using, what data you’ve collected, and where the areas of improvement are. When we’ve decided what you need to meet your requirements, we’ll give you some figures for different options.
What happens once I’ve got the hardware I need?
Once we’ve agreed on what you’d like to go ahead with, we’ll get a Vantage NZ rep out to your farm to install the products and give you some training to show you how to use them. First, it’s about getting you started collecting the data and getting used to using the technology. Once you run with that for a few weeks, we often have another site visit to check in, see how things are going, and answer any questions.
At this point, customers usually feel pretty comfortable using their technology so it’s a good time to give you more training to take things to the next level.
How do I make the most of my hardware to better manage nutrient application?
Once you’re up and running, we can apply the right PNM strategy to save costs on inputs and make life easier.
Your ISOBUS connection will have your equipment talking to your Trimble hardware and software, automatically populating all your information onto the Trimble Display screen. This means you don’t have to have multiple screens for everything in the cab!
Autosteer will have the tractor automatically follow the GPS to make sure you’re applying nutrients precisely and avoid overapplication (and overpaying for nutrients).
By unlocking variable rate application, you’ll see a map that changes colour that shows exactly where nutrients are needed and not needed. Once unlocked, the technology will automatically apply nutrients in each paddock based on your map – meaning you’re only applying where it’s needed – reducing the amount of product you’re using and your risk of product leaching. We work with all nutrient management companies to enable variable rate application nationwide.
Vantage NZ can help with making variable rate application maps using a large range of data layers, including satellite imagery, grid or zonal soil sampling, and if required UAV imagery.
Really, we customise each PNM solution to the customer and their goals, so it’s all about having a chat with us to figure out what best suits your business from the outset.