12 October 2017, 02:50PM
Riverina corn and wheat grower Nathan Heckendorf has turned to sophisticated digital technology to help him get the best out of his crop in the seasons ahead.

He invested in an AgSense remote irrigation management system and had us install them on four of his centre pivots.

AgSense uses digital cellular technology to remotely monitor, start and stop a centre pivot, enabling Nathan to keep an eye on and manage his crops via his computer or smartphone. It’s a Valley product but is compatible with all brands.

Nathan wanted a better understanding of what was happening across his paddocks, and in the soil, than his field net system was giving.

He was drawn to the detailed, long-term mapping data AgSense provides, especially for his summer corn crop which needs a built-up subsoil table when it starts to tassel and flower.

 “I can program it to do different rates at different parts of the paddock, I can adjust the speed, measure the moisture in the ground or start and stop flows remotely,” says Nathan.

“It is accurate to 0.1mm and the more accurate the water management, the better the yield potential.”

His 1800 hectare property, Top Reeds, sits between Narrandera and Wagga Wagga. It is river flat country with black self-mulching clay soil.

Some sections of soil hold water better than others but the AgSense system lets Nathan accurately map the total volumes of water being applied and precisely allocate where that water is to go.

It means instead of irrigating 6 megalitres to a hectare average, he can give some areas 6.3 megalitres and others only 5.8 megalitres to ensure consistency of water retention across the paddock.

If there is a low-lying area of the pivot cycle, he can tell the pivot to reduce the water applied in that area – and he doesn’t need to go out to the paddock to do it.

“I’m not expecting big financial gains any time soon, for me this was an important management issue,” says Nathan.

“It will take some time to build up a history of use but the mapping data is so detailed and the long-term accrued data is what will bring in the benefits.”