Improving cotton’s capability for on-farm experimentation

CRDC

Finding efficient and effective ways of doing business is a key objective for any grower. Having the ability to undertake experimentation on their own farm can lead growers to the adoption of practices that will significantly improve profitability and sustainability.

Recent advances in precision agriculture technologies have provided a new approach to conducting on-farm experimentation. Called ‘spatially distributed experimentation’, this approach allows growers and advisers to improve profitability and sustainability by using precision tech to describe in field variability. Growers and advisors can take advantage of this variability to assess where and by how much different practices impact their production.

Last week, Cotton Seed Distributors (CSD) and CRDC brought together two experts in on-farm experimentation in Narrabri to discuss this new approach. Dr Rob Bramley (CSIRO) and Dr Kathy Evans (University of Tasmania) ran a workshop for 23 attendees, including consultants, growers, and researchers, to determine which aspects of spatial approaches to on-farm experimentation are valued by the cotton industry.

The aim of the workshop, co-organised by CSD’s Commercial Research Manager Dr Michael Bange and CRDC’s R&D Manager Dr Merry Conaty, was to inform the industry on how to increase skills and capacity in these areas.

Dr Bange believes that harnessing this approach will help growers increase productivity in the face of a variable climate as it will allow them to truly understand which practices best suit their systems.

“This remains an emerging field of research and application,” Dr Bange explained.

“While there have been significant efforts in the past to support on-farm experimentation, little attention has been given to adopting approaches that truly exploit spatial variability”, he continued. “The workshop showed how we can get so much more out of even simple strip trials, and we are keenly looking forward to seeing where the outcomes of the workshop will take us next”.

Dr Conaty said the first step is to introduce the industry to the new approach.

“Following the workshop, CRDC and CSD will now develop a plan to assist the industry to utilise spatially distributed experimentation. We are looking forward to seeing this concept implemented on our farms”.

This project was jointly funded by CSD’s Richard Williams Initiative and CRDC.

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