SA03SEQ-04: Pre and Post Nutrition Management


Research Site/Demonstration Number: SA03SEQ-04

Grower Collaborator: Fullerton Farms

Location 4: Old Gympie Rd, Elimbah

Start Date: July 2019

OUTLINE: To introduce, develop and evaluate precision farming practices through Global Positioning Systems (GPS) and Global Information Systems (GIS) technology into pineapple production systems primarily targeting improving fertiliser and pesticide efficiency.


Phase 1: 

  1. To introduce fertiliser and pesticide efficiency through the establishment of precision (variable rate) boom spray application equipment.
  2. To introduce Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology into boom spray application equipment and other farming operations.

Phase 2:

  1. To incorporate aerial or satellite imagery into precision boom spray operations.
  2. To reduce fertiliser and pesticide losses off farm using precision boom spray application compared with traditional boom spray practices.
  3. To compare cost effectiveness of precision boom spray equipment compared with traditional boom spray equipment.

Phase 3:

  1. To incorporate GIS capabilities of GPS based technology into pineapple operations and record keeping. 



Phase 1:

  1. Introduction of GPS based technology
  2. Establish precision farming equipment:
    • Variable rate boom spray
    • Auto track and steer tractors

Phase 2:

  1. Incorporate aerial or satellite imagery and software into pineapple production systems.
  2. Create a process to ‘ground truth’ imagery and assist management decisions.
  3. Application of all post plant fertiliser and pesticide using variable rate boom spray.

Phase 3:

  1. Introduction of GIS based technology
  2. Integration into a software based program for:
    • Farm record keeping
    • Farm cost analysis 
    • Yield tracking


Application of all post plant fertiliser and pesticide using traditional non-variable rate boom sprayer.


The generic cost required to install a GPS based variable rate and sectional control system into a current existing tractor and boom spray is approximately $25,000 – $30,000 depending on the state of the tractor and size of the boom spray.

Potential Cost Savings

Potential cost savings using variable rate boom sprayer. 

In the table above the ‘Cost = $10,000/ha’ refers to the standard cost of fertilisers and pesticides over a full cycle (plant and ratoon crop).


Cost analysis/comparison: 48 months

In the following areas:

  1. Fertiliser and pesticide inputs
  2. Diesel usage
  3. Reduction in labour
  4. Improved administration and management



April 2019
The variable rate boom spray upgrades have been designed and costed. 

June 2019
Grower has been identified
Variable rate boom spray has been constructed
Variable rate boom spray has been field tested

ISSUES ENCOUNTERED: The first grower identified had to pull out due to the tractor needing upgrading and the grower was unable to commit to financial requirements.  It took time to identify and engage a new grower.

OTHER NOTES: Working with external collaborator John Deere and Chesterfield through a precision agriculture expert from Dalby.

Variable rate and sectional control boom spray system

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