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From desktop planning to paddock action

Dr Godard of Canada-based agricultural software company Verge Ag.
Photo: Verge Ag

A Canada-based tech company that specialises in agricultural software solutions, Verge Ag, has developed a web-based platform that assesses farm operation strategies against their projected costs before being implemented.

The web application enables virtual paddock trials that explore different operational approaches, with the objective being to pinpoint the approach that achieves the highest fuel efficiency for machinery use across different paddocks.

The optimum approach is then configured for all major tractor models.

Initially launched for Canadian grain farmers in 2020, the software has since expanded its reach through a partnership with GRDC to tailor and refine the web application for the nuances of Australian grain production systems, starting in June 2023.

The platform, as illustrated in Figure 1, allows growers to choose their paddock and specify equipment settings for farm operations, displaying the selected paddock as a map. With its toolbar, a user can simulate various farming activities (such as sowing, spraying and harvesting) in different set-ups. It calculates efficiency-related parameters, such as minimising the number of passes, to highlight the most economical or time-saving approaches.

Figure 1: Snapshot of the paddock map and tool bar graphic. Source: Verge Ag

Verge Ag

For example, a 13,000-hectare farming operation in Saskatchewan, Canada, was able to achieve a 25 per cent productivity increase, measured as an increase in the number of hectares covered per hour. The same operation also saved $7/ha in fuel costs over the entire growing season and completed harvest 23 days earlier. This was achieved by generating optimised paths for headlands and all inner tracks for every paddock across all operations.

The tool is also useful for evaluating the potential return on investment in new machinery by simulating different operational strategies to find the most efficient.

The adaptation of the software for Australian conditions is being done in partnership with Viridis Ag, precision agriculture consultants and agronomists at Agrarian Management and Farmanco in Western Australia, Field Systems in South Australia and DataFarming in Queensland, all engaged through the Australian Controlled Traffic Farming Association (ACTFA).

This collaborative project aims to refine and develop software to meet the specific requirements and challenges faced by Australian grain producers, such as:

  • properly sizing the equipment fleet for a farm to match the size and functionality of equipment to the scope and complexity of a particular farming operation;
  • evaluating the impact of machine paths considering dependencies between field operations and the number of times equipment enters the paddock for a given growing season;
  • in-paddock operational logistics to assess the placement of stationary service units and refill spots to develop an optimal path plan for a particular farming operation; and
  • analytical tools that help growers evaluate efficiency and sustainability parameters to perform cost–benefit analyses for different path plans and logistical sequences.

Once completed, the web-based software will be accessed via an annual subscription to one of two services: a core and a professional version. More information is available on the Verge Ag website on current products and pricing.

Verge Technologies Australia and ACTFA will also deliver workshops and extension activities to keep Australian growers, consultants and others up to date on progress. The workshops will demonstrate the capabilities and benefits of new analytics-based features via grower case studies in each GRDC region. These activities kicked off with a presentation at a GRDC Research Update in Western Australia in 2024 by ACTFA chair Bindi Isbister.

The latest updates on project activities including workshop and webinar dates are available in the ACTFA e-newsletter.

Verge Ag also provides tutorial videos on YouTube.

More information: Godard,

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