Production horticulture growers in the Lockyer, Bremer and Pumicestone catchments are eligible to benefit from farm technology tools being implemented through Growcom’s Hort360 South-East Queensland project.
Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), Electro Magnetic (EM) soil mapping and the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) are just some of the technologies being explored on-farm.
Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) is a remote sensing technology that Growcom came across in 2016. LiDAR helps map a 3D view of your property which is the first step in highlighting problem areas for water logging and erosion hotspots. By modelling the flow of water across your farm, property planning and decisions such as drainage and contour placement can be accurately targeted saving you thousands of dollars in earthmoving costs and soil loss.
To compliment the LiDAR planning process, Growcom are using Electro Magnetic (EM) soil mapping to produce comprehensive soil maps which arm the grower with a better understanding of their soil properties.
EM mapping measures the moisture-holding capacity of the soil which helps to identify productivity issues, soil health, water logging and instances of erosion. Most growers recognise they have soil variances within each block, and EM mapping quantifies that variance by giving the grower and the agronomist the confidence in their ability to become more efficient at applying inputs such as fertiliser.
With these two key elements in place, Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) can be implemented. Using near-infrared technology to measure crop biomass or ‘green canopy density’, NDVI can detect problems associated with poor or patchy growth like nutritional disorders, water-logging, poor drainage, compaction, pest and disease
pressure, and soil variances. It also confirms if crop growth and uniformity is progressing as it should be. NDVI gives the grower the ability to intercept ‘invisible’ crop damage early which can significantly boost yields whilst allowing growers to better manage their most expensive crop inputs based on crop health and plant density.
The Hort360 South-East Queensland project aims to not only promote Best Management Practice (BMP) within the horticulture industry, but also address nutrient and sediment loss in catchments where this is a known issue.
Key outputs of the project include:
- The development of baseline data for practice change monitoring.
- The development of management tools and solutions to reduce erosion, sediment and nutrient loss.
- The introduction of technology to reduce erosion, sediment and nutrient loss.
- Education and extension on sediment, nutrient and pesticide management.
- Facilitation of the Hort360 sediment and water quality modules.
- Support the delivery of the Hort360 accreditation platform through Freshcare including accreditation pilots in south-east Queensland and additional accreditation rollout in the Pumicestone, Bremer and Lockyer catchments.
- Pineapple trials for practice management change in sediment and nutrient reduction in collaboration with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
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The Hort360 South-East Queensland project is conducted in collaboration with the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.