Extension officers in the Mossman district have been armed with new technology to help them support growers to improve soil health.
The project, delivered by Mossman Ag Services (MAS) and funded by the Enhanced Extension Coordination in GBR project, gives extension officers access to a drone to provide a new perspective when monitoring overall crop health at different stages of the growth cycle, identifying problem drainage areas and providing aerial photo records and mapping of trial blocks.
To ground truth aerial observations a new set of Dutch twist-style augers have also been purchased as part of the toolkit, following requests by a number of growers.
The new tool kit is also equipped with a pH and soil temperature meter and a compaction meter for monitoring and use in on-farm demonstrations. To measure microbial activity, a key indicator of soil health, a Solvita kit has also been included. This is particularly important to provide microbial information when comparing the soil health of trial strips or a new practice.
Michael Nash from the Wet Tropics Sugar Industry Partnership, who is delivering the Enhanced Extension Coordination project for the region, said the whole package had been put together based on direct requests from growers in the Mossman area.
"From this project growers may be encouraged to purchase their own drones or other soil health equipment after they see the potential uses and become familiar with how they operate," he said.
"Another aspect of this project is the ability for growers to identify and focus on specific areas of improvement, increasing the efficiency by which their efforts can have a positive effect on water quality.’’