New projects to improve crop establishment

By Rodney Woods

Researchers at University of South Australia’s Agricultural Machinery Research and Design Centre are set to deliver farmers a boost in output and risk aversion as they near completion of a number of projects using cutting edge technology to improve crop establishment.

With Australia’s farm gross domestic product declining by 8.3 per cent over the past year, the projects could improve crop establishment by up to 400 per cent and significantly increase grain yield.

Key to the approach of researchers is the application of a computer simulation technique called discrete element method, which allows them to accurately model soil engaging tools, such as no-till crop seeders, deep rippers, inversion ploughs and rotary spaders.

The discrete element method has been used in different ways in other areas, but the centre is pioneering its use in the agricultural field, leading to significant improvements in the efficacy and efficiency of cropping machinery, according to Dr Chris Saunders.

“Unlike real-world testing, which can only occur at certain times of year, DEM modelling can be done year-round using high-power computer stations to optimise designs and settings, which are then ready to test and fine tune in the field when the seasons permit,” Dr Saunders said.