Spot-on precision agronomy

AgSkills program still offers free courses


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NSW Department of Primary Industries' Tocal College business development officer, Glen Walker, shows the training gear he takes on farm for the free precision agronomy courses.

NSW Department of Primary Industries' Tocal College business development officer, Glen Walker, shows the training gear he takes on farm for the free precision agronomy courses.

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The free precision agronomy courses on show at ANFD. Mobile training unit can come to your farm.

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Farmers keen to use their on-farm data to lift the efficiency of their operations will be pleased to hear Agskills still has free courses in precision agronomy.

Course options were on show at the Australian National Field Days, held at Orange, where NSW Department of Primary Industries’ course provider Tocal College’s business development officer, Glen Walker, was on hand to answer questions.

Mr Walker, Trangie, said Tocal was the training arm of NSW DPI, which had the feature display at this year’s field days.

A big part of what the college offered these days was its short courses run on farm.

“We bring it (the course) to you, on your farm, using your data – it’s actually a subsidised, free course at the moment,” he said.

“GRDC and CRDC (the Grains and Cotton Research and Development Corporations) got together and are funding a heap of courses. We’re one of several registered training organisations that deliver those.”

The precision agronomy courses specifically fills the gap where the farmers are collecting the data, but don’t really know how to make decisions around efficiency.

“Rather than have to go to a consultant and pay big fees for that sort of service, we can show you how to get that information out of the data you’re already collecting,” Mr Walker said.

He said most people had yield data they could bring to this course that could be surfaced to compare differences across individual paddocks.

Mr Walker said Tocal had mainly been approached by corporate farms and agronomy services, but there had been quite a few individuals join the course who wanted see how this would allow them to fine tune their management.

“So where we’re getting to now is we’re scheduling six months ahead a run of courses and what we’re finding is every course that we do is we seem to get a couple say ‘I would have come to that’, or, ‘will you come back’, or, ‘when are you coming next?’.

“So that’s an ongoing schedule that’s online. What we’d encourage people to do is to see if there’s one close to them, or time-wise going to suit them. If not, and you’ve got say eight to 10 people, just give us a yell and we’ll see if we can fit it in.”

An important part of the course was ground-truthing on-farm data.

“Get the basics in place, get the procedure right and then chase that efficiency,” he said.

“Once they know how to do that, and they’re used to going through that process, it’s quite a bit easier.

“Once they’ve got that mapping prowess to be able to say ‘I know that end of the paddock’s not doing so well – I’ll go and do a soil test and have a look at why – is there a constraint? – and address that.”

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