Sky’s The Limit For This Fodder Innovator
Innovation in agriculture is increasingly important for primary producers. AgTech solutions are adopted across many farms and businesses to drive growth and sustainability.
Cereal farmer Mark Branson
Innovation is key for South Australian farmers in these challenging times, according to Mid North cereal farmer Mark Branson.
The general manager of Branson Farms won last year’s Pasture Genetics National Fodder Innovation Award at the Royal Adelaide Show for using a drone to successfully map weeds.
Introduced in 2018, the National Grain and Fodder Innovation Awards have recognised Aussie growers who’ve redeveloped their farming practices to adapt to change, increase production, and/or demonstrate sustainability.
Mark runs a 1200ha property in Stockport with son Sam, growing cereal, legume, and oilseed crops – exported globally – and a self-replacing merino flock. His innovation was born out of wanting to grow good quality hay for his sheep and to tackle the herbicide-resistant ryegrass and wild oats in his crops.
“I’ve always wanted to patch out these resistant weeds and cut them for hay to stop them setting seed,” the fifth-generation farmer says. “After years of trying to unsuccessfully identify these patches from the ground, I’ve realised that you need to be above the crop to find them properly.
“I use a drone to fly above the paddock and a program to map the whole area, stitching up hundreds of photos. I then use different indexes in the data to draw out the weed patches from the map.”
Of the award, Mark says: “It meant a lot to me to be recognised for the innovation that we do. People think that farmers use old technology and do things the same way over and over. But there are actually some really smart farmers out there, who are doing really smart things. We’re world-leading at what we do.”
When it comes to the Royal Adelaide Show, Mark would normally be entering his produce into the Grains and Fodder competition. Previously, he got second prize for his fava beans, which are exported to Egypt. “It’s important for the growers to show off their quality at the Show,” he says, “but it’s also important for the city folk to see the high-quality grades we can produce.”
Then there’s the socialising aspect. “It’s great to catch up with other rural people, going through the sheep or grains area, and to do a bit of networking over a beer,” Mark enthuses.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regions has two new Ag-Tech demonstration farms in Loxton and Struan-Kybybolite which highlight the use and value of AgTech solutions.
The farms enable primary producers to interact with a wide range of AgTech solutions before identifying and adopting products and services that will improve their own productivity and profitability.
The department also recently announced the return of AdvanceAg, following on from this year’s successful showcase. AdvanceAg will again discuss the latest ideas in AgTech innovation and demonstrate practical application and benefits.
AG SHOWCASE QUIZ
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