Willowie farmer Joe Koch with his new quad-copter, which has given him the ability to identify soil types, crop disease areas, heavy weed patches and crop damage caused by insects, slugs, snails and sheep.THE extended Koch family have farmed in the Willowie district since 1876, with Joe Koch the sixth generation on-farm.
In 2007, the family decided to incorporate no-till into their cropping operation and began using auto-steer technology in 2008, followed by variable-rate technology in 2010.
Mr Koch said their investments in PA technology had paid for themselves with money saved, along with an increase in productivity from managing each soil type to its potential, resulting in greater profitability.
By using variable rate technology for their phosphorous and nitrogen applications, it had resulted in a more efficient use of these inputs, not only saving money but making it.
“All of these targeted soil zones have been highlighted through yield mapping, and is now confirmed by what we can see from above with our new quad-copter,” Mr Koch said.
It was a harvest of highs and lows in 2014 for the Koch family across their two properties, resulting in one of the earliest finishes in the operation’s history.
At Booleroo Centre, a much-needed rain in late September kept their crop, above average, while at Georgetown the sharp finish meant crops were below average.
Their wheat averaged about 3 tonnes a hectare, with high-quality and no screenings at Booleroo depending on the paddock, while Georgetown had higher screenings because of the lack of rain.
Barley averaged slightly better at 3.5t/ha, but tests weights were down and screenings high, making only Feed 1.
It was their canola that was the hardest hit, mainly from frost, but also hindered early by aphids, slugs, and the late dry finish.
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