How the drive for more sustainable production is bringing growers tailored solutions
One’s a household name in agriculture and brings 185 years of experience to the table. The other boasts a deep-seated knowledge of soil health and is a leading consultant and provider of precision farming services in Australia. An ongoing partnership between Elders and Precision Agriculture Pty Ltd is helping farmers across Australia achieve their goals of improved nutrient use and more sustainable production.
In South West Victoria, Elders agronomist Gabby Redpath is conquering soil water logging challenges by using elevation maps to improve pasture quality.
Up in Albury, New South Wales, Chris Toohey is using variable rate lime solutions to help his clients maximise production in an acidic soil type.
And over in Roseworthy, South Australia, Craig Prior is utilising grid sampling solutions to identify acidic soil types and maximise his clients’ lentil crop production.
The relationship is giving Elders clients easier access to Precision Agriculture’s specialised services such as the creation of soil management zones, customised soil testing and identifying key soil constraints.
Precision Agriculture also offers variable rate fertiliser recommendations, soil carbon reporting, surface water management and variable rate irrigation solutions. The precise data from these services enables farmers and Elders agronomists to make better decisions about crop nutrients and other inputs.
Varied regions, consistent success
Catherine Chenoweth, Elders Technical Services Specialist, said the partnership began as a pilot program in the 2021/2022 season and is now set to expand its wings even further.
“We’re deepening our partnership in 2024 and taking it further to Western Australia (WA) and Northern Australia,” Catherine said.
“Something that started as a pilot in the Riverina has expanded nationally and that’s very exciting for Elders, for the partnership, and for our clients who we are going to be assisting even further in solving problems through targeted solutions.”
Catherine said the partnership supports Precision Agriculture to work with a team of Elders agronomists, allowing it to tap into Elders extensive customer base and provide agronomists with soil sampling and mapping expertise.
In turn, agronomists take this technology back to their clients and provide them with key solutions for key constraints. And while the regions have varied, the success in each has stayed consistent.
“We’ve had significant wins across Albury, Bendigo, Ballarat, Gippsland, here in Roseworthy, and across South Australia,” Catherine said.
“Our clients face very specific problems that vary drastically across all those regions. Where we’ve really excelled in our partnership is being able to provide them with targeted solutons.”
“Whether that’s targeting topsoil variability or subsoil variability, it’s enabled us to have a deeper conversation with clients to agree on a solution. That may be product applications within those zones to maximise production, or something else – but it will be unique to them.”
Getting growers through the last mile of agrifood tech together
Founded in 2008, Precision Agriculture is the leading independent provider of precision agriculture services, primarily focused on soil health and management. Its head office is based in Ballarat, Victoria.
The Australian owned company is the country’s largest soil sampler, operating in dryland and irrigated cropping, perennial pastures, horticulture, tree crops and viticulture throughout Australia, after developing customised solutions for different sectors.
CEO Todd Buck said the partnership has allowed each business to bring their individual strengths to the table to support growers across the country.
“Our strength is around the soil, knowledge, data, and we’ve got the tech to be able to actually deliver the solution. Elders’ strength is they’ve got a strong agronomy network and close relationships with farmers,” he said.
“This partnership allows us to put the two together and pass it through to growers.”
To date, Precision Agriculture has had a greater focus on south eastern Australia, but that’s changing.
It’s working with growers in the cane and macadamia sectors in QLD, along with the Elders team in WA. And they haven’t gone in lightly either. More than $400,000 worth of equipment has been shipped west, including two Canadian-built Gamma units at $120,000 each that operate in sandy soils and high limestone content soils where other equipment such as EM38 units have limitations.
“Using the right tool for the right job is our principle. What we do, you can’t do as a standard across Australia because there’s such a variation in soil types,” Todd explained.
“We need to use different tech to suit different environments to suit people’s different problems.”
And with no shortage of unique systems and tech entering the ag market, Todd said the partnership has allowed both companies to help growers get over the line when it comes to implementing agtech.
“The last mile of making tech work is critical for farmers, along with simplicity and great after sales service. Precision Ag and Elders are both committed to working together to make this happen,” – Todd Buck, CEO, Precision Agriculture
Unique problems, custom solutions, shared goal
While it’s a continuation, with three years under their partnership belt, Todd said the achievements have been unmistakable.
“We’ve had key Elders agronomists work with us on their own properties which is a big endorsement, as well as introducing us to their clients to help diagnose some major yield constraints, which they’ve been unable to solve themselves. That’s a big acknowledgement that we can help with some of those service capability gaps,” Todd said.
“Our core products can be tailored to different sectors and geographies and that’s where Elders brings us the broad spectrum of both geographies, client type, and products – and it’s worked very well.”
Continue the conversation at evokeAG. 2024 on 20-21 February in Perth. Platinum Partner Elders will be exhibiting in The Exchange, our exhibition space, and Managing Director and CEO Mark Allison will take to the stage on Day 1, delivering his opening remarks ahead of an action-packed, two-day program.
Access the full program at evokeag.com/2024-program.
Following evokeAG. 2024, applications open in March 2024 for the Elders Community Giving Project, which offers grants of up to $20k for grassroots initiatives that will promote sustainable, focused, and long-term change in communities. Register your interest here.
For more information about evokeAG. 2024, and to purchase tickets visit evokeag.com/2024. AgriFutures Australia is encouraging delegates to secure their tickets, flights, and accommodation now to avoid disappointment.