Technology to allow farmers to plant at unparalleled speeds is being validated through a collaboration between the University of Sydney and John Deere – and the Australian farm sector is on course to benefit.
The collaboration will include third-party validation of the capability of John Deere’s ExactEmerge technology to increase planting speed to 16km/hour in Australian conditions, while maintaining factors critical to maximising yield including accurate singulation, seed population, spacing, applied downforce and uniform depth. ExactEmerge can be used in cotton, sorghum, sunflower and summer grain crop production.
John Deere Australia and New Zealand Precision Agriculture Manager, Benji Blevin, said the collaboration with the University of Sydney Institute of Agriculture would independently demonstrate the performance of the technology in local growing conditions. He said:
“Growers are typically used to planting at 8km/h but what we want to show is, using ExactEmerge, they can achieve the same accuracy at double the speed.”
“That ability to cover twice as many hectares as a traditional planter in the same amount of time, has the potential to significantly shift the goal posts during the planting season.”
ExactEmerge, which can be integrated into both new and older planters, has been built on a firm principle: a farmer’s planting objective is to achieve accurate seed placement, within the optimum planting window, resulting in uniform emergence and ultimately improved yields and profit.
The demonstration of the technology has been conducted at the University of Sydney’s 1850 ha property, Llara, 5km north of Narrabri in northwest New South Wales where dryland wheat, canola, chickpeas, faba beans and dryland cotton is grown alongside a couple of hundred head of cattle. For this demonstration, the application of ExactEmerge focused on cotton production.
University of Sydney Director of Northern Agriculture, located at Narrabri, Associate Professor Guy Roth, said while the full results of the large-scale, approximately 100-hectare, demonstration are still being finalised he was expecting excellent results. He said:
“Growing crops is a combination of having good engineering, good agronomy and getting the timing right.”
“In this validation, John Deere provided the technology and we brought academic rigour to the agronomy and soil science, so it was the perfect opportunity to collaborate and conduct this large-scale validation study.”
“Using ExactEmerge, we were able to get a very good, even plant stand across all the treatments and soil types which is very important when planting cotton.”
Mr Blevin said alleviating the pressure on farmers to plant in tight windows to capture ideal planting conditions had originally inspired the development of ExactEmerge, technology that is purpose-built to grow efficiency, profits and deliver return on investment. He said:
“When you can plant at 16km/h with the confidence that you’re not compromising seed placement, you are effectively increasing the optimum planting window.”
“That is important because your rate of loss accelerates greatly after the optimum window has passed, but with a high-speed planter, you can avoid missing that optimal planting window. This makes an enormous contribution to a farmer’s chance of achieving the highest crop yield possible.”
Associate Professor Roth said the collaboration of varied stakeholders from across agriculture was an efficient and effective way to merge skills, knowledge and resources to help the farm sector innovate and thrive. He said:
“When industry and universities bring their skills and resources to the table, and combine and share their knowledge, you generally achieve a better result, better R&D, and ultimately better yields for growers.”