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Grower workshops to power precision ag adoption

SPAA President Phil Honey (left) and GRDC Grower Relations Manager Luke Dawson (right) discuss upcoming Variable Rate Technology workshops in Bencubbin, Merredin and Green Range.
Photo: Sue Knights

Upcoming workshops by the Society of Precision Agriculture Australia (SPAA) will provide grain growers in Western Australia with knowledge and tools to utilise variable rate technologies to build economic resilience within their farming systems.

The workshops, which are supported by investment from the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), will be held at:

  • Bencubbin – Thursday 15 June, Bencubbin Community Resource Centre, in conjunction with Merredin and Districts Farm Improvement Group (MADFIG) and facilitated by Bindi Isbister, Agrarian.
  • Merredin – Friday 16 June, Cummins Theatre, in conjunction with MADFIG and facilitated by Bindi Isbister, Agrarian.
  • Green Range – Thursday 22 June, Green Range Country Club, in conjunction with Stirlings to Coast Farmers and facilitated by Alice Butler, Farmanco.

SPAA President Phil Honey says that variable rate technology was a fundamental building block of many precision ag techniques, and starting with a good grounding in this technology could expedite precision ag adoption.

“The workshops will assist growers to better manage input prices, maximise on-farm productivity and environmental efficiencies and build economic resilience within their farming systems in high input-cost seasons,” Mr Honey says.

“Participants will learn how to implement and optimise precision ag variable rate tools, the potential pitfalls, and be informed about what they should be asking suppliers, agronomists, and consultants.”

Image of Bindi Isbister and Alice Farmanco.

The SPAA Variable Rate Technology workshops will be presented by Alice Butler (left) of Farmanco (Green Ranges workshop) and Bindi Isbister (right) of Agrarian (Bencubbin and Merredin workshops). Photo: SPAA

Mr Honey says there was a need to demystify precision ag to build capacity and confidence in the use of the technologies.

“Some precision ag technologies provide a financial gain to the user, such as variable rate technology for fertiliser application. Others provide utility such as autosteer.”

The workshops build on previous Hands-on Precision Ag Training (HoPAT) delivered by SPAA through GRDC investment, with 27 five-hour training workshops delivered nationally in 2021.

GRDC grower relations manager – west, Luke Dawson, says that the workshops had been co-designed with growers, and were implemented with the aim to provide introductory precision agriculture training to impart ‘hands-on’ technology skills.

“The 2021 workshops showcased mobile device integration technologies and low cost, simple precision ag methods already in use by growers and advisers,” Mr Dawson says.

“Following these workshops, SPAA undertook participant surveys which found that they had supported participants to source expert help, discuss opportunities with suppliers, consultants or clients, and better use the data they already had available.

“The upcoming workshops in WA are part of a national series of seven workshops SPAA is delivering to provide further training to support growers’ fertiliser decision making, particularly with rising input costs.”

Growers and advisers can register for the free workshops at the GRDC events page. Workshop materials include an updated version of the highly successful joint GRDC/SPAA 2012 publication, PA in Practice II.

Participants will also receive a complimentary three-month membership to SPAA which will include an issue of the magazine ‘Precision Ag News’.

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