Friday, 03 November 2023 09:55

GPS mapping, automation saves farmer time, money

Written by  Staff Reporters
Contract milker Jeorge Barroga says technology has been a game changer for the farm. Contract milker Jeorge Barroga says technology has been a game changer for the farm.

With the fertiliser spreading season in full swing, a Central Otago dairy farmer has embraced the benefits of GPS mapping and automated data management, resulting in substantial savings of both time and money.

Jeorge Barroga contract milks a total of 1500 cows across two milking platforms and a support block covering 500 hectares in Ranfurly.

Given the extensive land area, fertiliser spreading has always been a significant investment and a big job each season, with a tractor driver employed to manage the process using an in-vehicle GPS map.

With the increasing demands of nitrogen cap reporting and the looming 2025 deadline for Freshwater Farm Plans, the farm’s owner, Greg Kirkwood, realised the need for a more precise method of applying fertiliser and streamlining the compliance reporting process.

“We had a fertiliser budget allocated for each season, and up until now, we’d been relying on rudimentary GPS mapping tools within the tractor to determine where and when to spread fertiliser. Unfortunately, it wasn’t always the most accurate process,” says Barroga. In their search for better technology, Kirkwood discovered Precision Farming’s Spreadify App, which has been a game-changer for the farm during the past two seasons.

Spreadify is a simple GPS guidance app for self-spreading that’s free to download and use. It accurately maps, manages and records the application of fertiliser, effluent and spray. It can also guide irrigation sprinkler and pod placement. By connecting Spreadify to Precision Farming for a small annual fee, Jeorge has fully automated his Proof of Application to MyBallance.

“Our old approach to spreading fertiliser often led to overlap and missed areas in the paddock,” says Barroga.

“Even with maps on hand, the process was prone to human error, sometimes varying by as much as 20 metres. The Spreadify App provides precise guidance on where fertiliser has been spread, eliminating room for mistakes.”

All the essential data regarding the type, timing, and location of fertiliser applications is seamlessly recorded in the app. Thanks to the integration with Precision Farming, the farm’s data is automatically sent to Ballance, simplifying compliance reporting and N-cap reporting at the end of the season.

“In today’s climate, we’re all striving to achieve more with less while seeking cost savings,” says Barroga.

“The Spreadify App has been instrumental in maximising the return on our fertiliser investment and reducing waste.

“It’s not only a substantial cost-saving to spread fertiliser more efficiently, but it also saves us a tremendous amount of time because all the reporting data is readily available.”

The app is userfriendly, making it accessible for anyone operating the tractor. The fertiliser applications are programmed for each month, ensuring there is no overlap or waste.

“Having all the farm’s data in one place also means we can easily order fertiliser as needed, as we have a clear record of our previous applications,” says Barroga.

“We’re confident that we are using our fertiliser investment wisely, and there’s no more manually calculating what we’ve applied over the year. The app takes care of all of that for us, making the compliance process significantly more straightforward.”

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