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


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.





April 2019

The variable rate boom spray upgrades designed and costed.

June 2019

Grower has been identified
Variable rate boom spray constructed
Variable rate boom spray field tested
Phase 1 complete

February 2020

Identify and plan a field for Phase 2 activities

April 2020

Take imagery of field and analyse data


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.


Working with external collaborator John Deere and Chesterfield through a precision agriculture expert from Dalby.  Growcom are collaborating through phase 2.


A John Deere tractor with a standard industry boom spray was fitted out with GPS guidance and sectional rate control. The boom spray with sectional rate control was divided into four different sections.

In its current format the sectional rate boom spray can achieve the following:

  1. Automatic section shut off at the end of blocks that are not square,
  2. Precise volume per hectare output,
  3. Variable rate control when the boom spray changes speeds over drains and contours,
  4. Track cost of diesel and labour for each boom spray operation.


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 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).

Variable rate and sectional control boom spray system


This phase involves using the upgraded John Deere tractor and variable rate section control boom sprayer, and integrating satellite imagery into its operating systems.  The satellite imagery of designated blocks will identify variations of crop growth within each block.  These variations of crop growth can be uploaded into the operating system of the tractor and boom spray and allow variable rate application of pesticide and fertiliser.

This system can build the capacity for pineapple growers to use variable rate technology and improve fertiliser and pesticide efficiencies within the environment they operate.


  • Identify blocks to be trialled and create the block GPS field boundaries (polygons) with the current John Deere operating system.
  • Identify the frequency of satellite images of pineapple blocks over a period of 24 months.
  •  Identify the pixel size of satellite images of pineapple blocks.
  • Include additional Electro Magnetivity (EM) soil mapping of the pineapple blocks.
  • Upgrade the current John Deere operating system to integrate satellite imagery.
  • Undertake analysis / interpreting of imagery by ground truthing.
  • Develop a boomspray plan to achieve pesticide and fertiliser efficiencies.

Field Map Elimbah – Block Locations 8A – 10B

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