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BETTER Farm Crops Programme

Business, Environment and Technology through Training Extension and Researchbetter_farm_crops_hdg

The Teagasc BETTER Farm Crops Programme aims to assist Irish tillage farmers to avail of cutting edge farm technology and business methods, to improve profitability and to strengthn links between research, advice and tillage farms.

The last Crops BETTER farm program ended in 2013. The new program (2014-2017/8) will focus on precision agriculture and how new technologies can complement existing farming practice.

Positioning and machine control technologies (e.g. RTK GPS accuracy to 2cm and autosteer) have developed rapidly in recent years, greatly facilitating machine control and potential field efficiencies in machine operation, but the pace of development in spatially variable management of crops has not been as rapid. The concept of spatially variable crop management is very worthwhile and future developments in soil (and crop) sensor technology may result in a step-change in the systems potential. In the meantime however, newer developments need to be evaluated and practical utilisation of spatially variable information to influence crop management need to be assessed.

Bringing together different strands of precision tools, from soil analysis, variable application, yield mapping, telematics, NIR analysis, etc., is challenging and presents farmers with questions as to the usability and profitability of any investments. Along with demonstrating excellent agronomic practice and business development the BETTER farm program will show where precision technologies can be of use on farm and how these technologies can be used to improve farm profitability.

The program consist of two major elements;

  1. Knowledge Transfer and dissemination
    • Key agronomy and farm management messages for the tillage industry
    • Precision agriculture potential and usability
  2. Research component: the research project will;
    • Determine and demonstrate within- and between-field crop variability and determine factors influencing that variability.
    • Determine and demonstrate crop management responses to spatial yield variation to optimise yields.
    • Demonstrate and assess the role of a number of technologies (satellite sensing, proximal reflectance crop sensing and smart-phone leaf area assessment) in determining yield potential and help to optimise management strategies during the growing season.
    • Demonstrate and disseminate the concepts of precision agriculture; the field, positioning and analysis technologies associated with it; and its potential now and in the future to facilitate spatially variable management practices to optimise production.

Both Knowledge Transfer and research elements are aligned and will be complimentary in delivering clear farm management and agronomy messages to growers while investigating (on a small trial and field basis) the benefits of precision agriculture.

Final Report of BETTER farms 2010-2013 (PDF)

Boards Better Farm 2017 (PDF)

Teagasc BETTER Farm Tillage Walks 2018