Wheat growers are able to access online summary reports on predicted crop yields from sites across the wheatbelt through the Department of Agriculture and Food.
In response to strong demand, the department, in partnership with farm consultants and various grower groups, has established 120 Yield Prophet® sites this year.
Department project manager Rob Grima, of Geraldton, said a recent review of Yield Prophet® had found where the online production model was built into a farm business, it could improve profits.
“We first investigated Yield Prophet® in the Northern Agricultural Region in 2009 and since then we have broadened the exposure to more locations,” Mr Grima said.
Most of this year’s sites are funded through the department and the Rural Business Development Corporation. Additional sites are supported by the Grain Research and Development Corporation through the department-led Focus Paddock Project and Kwinana East Regional Cropping Solutions Network.
The Yield Prophet® sites provide host growers with a predicted wheat yield range based on seasonal rainfall, paddock history, fertiliser applications and soil nutrient levels.
Mr Grima said the model was able to assist in management decisions by growers entering inputs at any time during the season to generate reports of projected yield outcomes showing the impact of crop variety, sowing date, nitrogen fertiliser and rainfall.
“It has also proven useful at providing information on stored soil moisture, plant rooting depth, expected flowering window, and plant stresses,” he said.
“Growers can then make decisions about whether to sow or not, and whether to apply more inputs to their crop. Some businesses have incorporated Yield Prophet® as a key decision aid for their grain marketing strategy.
“Last year we reviewed the impact of the Yield Prophet® site on the performance of farm businesses and found where this model is built into a farm business, it can deliver improved profits.
“As a result, we are working more closely with a greater number of farm consultants to tailor use of the model to individual farm businesses.”
Yield Prophet® was among the topics of discussion when department officers and local growers met with Agriculture and Food Minister Ken Baston east of Geraldton today. (Thurs 11 July)
Chapman Valley grain grower Bruce Ley said he used the model regularly since becoming involved through his agronomist as a ‘host grower’ as part of a pilot in 2009.
He said the main benefits of Yield Prophet® for his business were as a tool to predict yields and gauge soil moisture.
“We won’t make a call on our crop until we have a look and see how much moisture is in the bucket,” Mr Ley said. “Before we had to go on gut feel about how good moisture was.”
Mr Grima said the summarised reports provided online were site specific. “While they should not be used as a general recommendation, they do provide a range of yield expectations and ancillary information throughout the season at each site,” he said.
“Many of the site summaries are now online and we will continue to update these in coming weeks. Sharing these results online means other growers and agribusiness can now look at what is happening near them or at other locations.”
Participating consultants will also be conducting Yield Prophet® field walks during winter. Site summaries are available on the department website agric.wa.gov.au search for ‘Yield Prophet WA’.
Media contact: Jodie Thomson, media liaison +61 (0)8 9368 3937