Site-specific crop and soil management is as old as agriculture, however, mechanisation during the 20th century saw it replaced with the uniform farming of land. In many cases, the blanket application of fertilisers and pesticides, combined with excessive seeding and over-tilling, has resulted in land degradation and damage to the environment. The development of precision farming techniques has helped automate site-specific management, using technology to make better decisions around the usage of fertiliser, water and seeds. By leveraging real-time data to monitor and measure outcomes, MIRA-managed farms are improving soil health and yield by tailoring inputs to match the specific needs of grain crops, permanent crops, irrigated cotton and oilseeds.
MIRA-managed properties have been investing in a range of precision farming techniques since 2014, aiming to improve productivity whilst lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
This has included the use of GPS mapping to create precise maps of different soils. By allowing MIRA’s farm management teams to differentiate per metre based on soil acidity, nutrition and compaction, the technology is helping to ensure fertilizers and pesticides are only used where, when, and in the exact quantities, they are needed. This tailored approach is reducing excess application and nutrient imbalances in soil, preventing problems like weed escapes and pesticide resistance.
MIRA-managed farms have also invested in soil rejuvenation to lift crop productivity through improved soil nutrition and fertility, water retention and subsoil root growth. By enabling the soil across our properties to retain more moisture, the practice is helping to build resilience in crop yields during dry seasons.
Zero tilling is also being employed by MIRA’s farm management teams to retain stubble from previous crops – creating a protective soil surface layer that helps reduce erosion, improve water retention and enhance the biodiversity of the soil. When combined with efficient land configuration and GPS guided steering to ensure farm machinery works along set tracks, MIRA-managed farms are reducing unnecessary soil compaction and improving water absorption.
Elizabeth O’Leary, Head of Agriculture
All information current as at 30 September 2020, unless otherwise stated.