The Costs And Benefits Associated With Vrt In Agriculture

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The Costs and Benefits Associated with VRT in Agriculture

The Costs and Benefits Associated with VRT in Agriculture


In Australia, a new innovation was implemented to improve agriculture. Variable Rate Technology (VRT) focuses on the adoption of Precision Agriculture (PA). Frank D'Emden spoke at a Precision Agriculture Research Symposium in Perth regarding the implementation of PA. The study had 573 farmers and performed in 2012. It found that farmers were varying fertilizer rates better with VRT as compared to conventional techniques. The study used in the research gathered information regarding the low adoption rates of Precision Agriculture technology. The primary cause found was the impact of the financial crisis. Farmers focused on surviving the crisis instead of gaining capital expenses. However, it found that PA is the key to a profitable and sustainable future in agriculture. In order to understand the VRT used in PA, an overview regarding its structure and the benefits and costs need to be examined (Wilson, 2013).

Outline of VRT

VRT is an agricultural innovation that allows producers to manipulate the crop inputs rate. It combines a variable rate control system with technology to implement the inputs at a time to establish a rate of inputs. Some technology used includes a central processing unit, variable rate software, a controller, and a Differential Global Positioning System receiver. Manipulating the inputs can minimize the costs associated with input and labor, gain the highest productivity, and limits the over-application impact on the environment. VRT used in applications including lime, pesticides, fertilizer, and seeding. In order to understand the application of VRT, the methodology needs to be analyzed (ACES, 2013).

AgriVision Consultants focus on utilizing this VRT, implementing it into paddocks, and developing growers to use this innovation in the future. They recommend a five step process that indicates the basics in implementing and using this Variable Rate Technology (AgriVision, 2013).

The first step in developing a VRT plan is to use a base layer of data for a VRT map. The base that is preferred is the Electro Magnetic 38 (EM 38) survey of each paddock to recognize the zones selected. Paddock areas can be produced accurately by the EM 38 and be further used repetitively. Other options for groundwork on the base layer can be yield maps, Gama Radio Metrics, elevation maps, manual zoning, and satellite images. The problems for these are their deficiencies. For example, yield maps are inaccurate if variables are not constant in the paddock. Elevation maps are good initial points but are lacking accuracy. The primary method is obtaining VRT results and then verifying them through yield maps (AgriVision, 2013).

The second step is to evaluate the ground through soil testing. The paddock inspected by growers and tested in zones for specified values of soil nutrients. Through segmentation, different soil testing account for discrepancies in yields. Electronic conductivity, soil type, and boron are the solutions for yields instead of focusing on nutrition. When the soil testing is administered through an EM 38 map, an experienced grower with agronomic skills can create ...