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AgTech in vegetable businesses

Agtech (agricultural technology) is a rapidly developing sector in Queensland. Predicted to be a $100 billion industry in Australia by 2030, this sector is a vital element in meeting demands for future food and agricultural production.

Agtech covers a group of digital technologies that provide data, information and tools to agricultural producers. It assists with more informed and timely management decisions and ultimately improves productivity and sustainability.

To enable digital agriculture in Queensland, the industry needs:

  • agricultural technologies validated in the field
  • people with digital skills who understand the practical realities facing the agricultural sector.

The following information and case studies describe how agricultural technologies are being implemented in vegetable crops, and how we can help your vegetable business.

Precision agriculture (PA) technologies in vegetables

PA uses agtech to collect detailed field and crop data, mainly using sensing technologies combined with geo-referencing. Adopting precision agriculture technologies could improve your vegetable production and profitability for a variety of Queensland crops.

Watch our video on how you can get started in implementing PA technology in vegetables and read our factsheet on getting started in PA.

Commercially available PA technologies which you can implement in vegetable crops are described below.

Soil mapping

Soil sensing technologies can be used to measure how soil characteristics vary across a field or farm. Use soil mapping to identify soil type, pH variability and salinity/nutrient constraints. Technologies include:

  • electromagnetic soil mapping (EM38)
  • soil pH mapping (e.g. Veris® technologies)
  • mapping of soil and physical characteristics (e.g. Soil Information SystemsTM)
  • gamma radiometric analysis
  • grid sampling and analysis.

Find out more about soil mapping technologies in vegetables and soil mapping in vegetables using EM38.

Crop-sensing imagery and analytics

Crop variability maps are used to direct field sampling locations (ground truthing) to identify causes of field variability and to direct crop scouting.

Use crop-sensing imagery to identify crop variability using:

  • low and high resolution satellite imagery
  • drone-captured imagery.

Increasing options in online platforms provide growers access to freely available low resolution satellite crop sensing imagery, with higher resolutions available at a cost.

Applying drone imagery to vegetable systems

The type of drone imagery is dependent on the sensor used. Drone imagery of vegetable crops are predominantly:

  • multispectral (to assess crop vigour through vegetation indices)
  • RGB (digital images).

Commercial crop imagery analytics can generate a range of crop vegetation indices from multispectral reflectance data, develop 3-dimensional crop models or automate plant counts from drone RGB imagery in brassicas, lettuce and other hand-harvested crops.

To learn more watch the video on drones in vegetable farming, read an overview of drones in vegetable systems and about automated plant counts in broccoli using drone imagery.

Variable rate application technology

Use technology for variable rate applications of soil amendments (e.g. lime/gypsum) and fertilisers to amend variable soil pH and nutrient distribution.

Read more about variable rate technologies and watch our video on variable rate technology in vegetables.

Drainage modelling for land planning

Accurate elevation data forms the basis for precision drainage modelling.

Precision drainage technologies can be used for land planing to optimise surface water flow, for example, TerraCuttaTM is a GPS-enabled in-cab software package for land forming operations (e.g. levelling) and iGradeTM which automates movement of the landplane (grading and plane generation).

To learn more, watch the video on precision drainage technology in vegetables.

Yield mapping and monitoring

Use harvester-based yield mapping for machine-harvested crops such as carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Find out more about yield monitoring in vegetables using load cells and remote sensing to predict yield of vegetable crops.

How we can help you

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries works in collaboration with commercial growers, service providers and stakeholders at a state and national level. We focus on validating commercially available precision-system technologies in vegetable production to help provide you and your vegetable business with:

  • evidence for changing practices developed on grower-based case studies
  • support to adopt precision technologies.

Grower-based case studies

Download our information sheets to read about our grower-based case studies, highlighting how growers have implemented precision technologies in vegetables.

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