SuperAir brings practicality to NZ farmers through SpreadSmart Technology

SuperAir’s proprietary SpreadSmart Technology is redefining precision farming and revolutionising nutrient application for farmers across New Zealand. SuperAir General Manager John Elliott describes SpreadSmart as a world-first technology that utilises geospatial referencing and computer-controlled hydraulics to optimise farmers’ return on investment in nutrient application.

John Elliott emphasises the technology’s versatility, highlighting its effectiveness on both flat and hill country landscapes. “Farmers are now benefiting from accurate nutrient placement on a variable rate basis, with some even pooling their resources to implement variable rate application across multiple properties, resulting in further economies for the collective,” he says.

SpreadSmart begins with the mapping of each customer’s farm using artificial intelligence, providing an accurate spreadable area. John says that on average, it has reduced the spreadable area by 17%, identifying non-productive areas and allowing farmers to redeploy fertiliser and lime for more significant benefits. The system generates a series of maps based on slope, aspect, altitude and stock camp exclusions, enabling further informed decisions on fertiliser placement.

John says the technology empowers farmers to make farm-wide considered decisions on nutrient placement and rates, offering bankable benefits of approximately $5 per hectare over a pilot operating a sowing lever, as the computer will adjust for speed over ground to ensure the nominated rate of application is applied on a constant basis.

John says that one large farming operation opted to exclude stock camps (which typically already have high soil nutrient levels due to animal urine and faeces), amounting to an area totalling 514 hectares not requiring fertiliser saving $123,000 highlighting the system’s efficacy. But he says SpreadSmart’s biggest advantage lies in its variable rate application capability.

By prioritising nutrient amounts and placement, the technology on average provides an impressive bankable benefit of $89 per hectare for a sheep and beef farmer, surpassing traditional topdressing methods. He says SpreadSmart Technology is also changing the economics of applying lime in hill country New Zealand.

SpreadSmart Technology can keep fertilisers out of waterways, gullies, forestry blocks and other sensitive areas, says General Manager John Elliott.

“We see our role as a top dressing company in today’s context as a tool in the toolbox around farmers’ license to operate.”

The system enables targeted variable rate applications of lime on southerly faces in the South Island, which have better moisture retention in low rainfall sites, promoting the growth of legumes, and resulting in a highly palatable feed source for increased productivity.

He says SuperAir’s commitment to environmental sustainability is evident in SpreadSmart’s ability to keep fertilisers out of waterways, gullies, forestry blocks and other sensitive areas. The technology aligns with farmers’ environmental plans, providing proof of application (POA) to align with regulations, ensuring responsible farming practices.

Notably, there is no additional cost or capital outlay for farmers to adopt SpreadSmart, making it an accessible and practical solution for the farming community. John affirms that once farmers experience its benefits, they don’t revert to traditional methods. “The technology’s success stems from its development in collaboration with farmers, ensuring its practicality and relevance in real-world agricultural scenarios,” he says.

Operating nationwide SuperAir’s fleet specialises in fixed-wing aerial application of solid fertilisers, lime and spray work. John says SuperAir has no preference for the supplier of nutrients and will sow any product the farmer requires.

“We see our role as a top dressing company in today’s context as a tool in the toolbox around farmers’ license to operate. Our role is to ensure we can place nutrients accurately on farms to meet farmers’ requirements and to ensure regulations are met while helping them to maximise their fertiliser budget for the best on-farm result.”

© Waterford Press Ltd 2024 – Independent Print Media New Zealand

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