Blue Dog Awarded Grant for Innovation in Agriculture


Thanks to new GPS technology tea tree farmer and grain grow­er Glenn Donnelly has no problem guiding his tractor.

The owner of Blue Dog Agriculture based just outside Casino has been making inroads into GPS-based preci­sion agricultural tech­niques, so much so that he has been awarded the bcu Bill Ussher Agricultural Grant of $7700 for innovation in agriculture.

“I was reasonably proud and pleased when they rang me and told me I’d won,” he said. “For the past eight or nine years I’ve been using GPS technology to make tractors drive in straight lines. But the technology can do so much more than that.”

Mr Donnelly said he would use some of the grant to invest in edu­cation and research into GPS-based tech­niques to improve the sustainability of crop production.
“On the north coast, we have a lot of rain, however, the land isn’t level,” he said. “This causes excessively wet areas within the field. These wet areas are significantly less productive than better drained areas.”

Mr Donnelly said laser buckets had been around in agriculture for a long time.

“They have tradition­ally been laser guided removing straight plains off the top of a field and often moving much more topsoil than required to achieve better drainage. By moving more topsoil than required, one will reduce the
productivity of that scalped area, burn more diesel, require more man and machine time, all of which are costly and not environ­mentally friendly.”

With GPS technology Mr Donnelly said a wavering line could be used which followed the lie of the land.

“By doing that we can then fill in low areas ofland without moving large amounts of soil,” he said. “The system controls the bucket height and steers the tractor. It is more a ‘land­forming’ bucket than a laser bucket.”

Mr Donnelly will use the rest of the grant to assess the commercial viability of improved strains of tea tree, leading to optimum yield per hectare.

This will hopefully allow Australian farm­ers to better compete with production from their Chinese compet­itors.

This article was first published in Rural Weekly in 2012.

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