The project "GIS-ELA" aims to spread the use of precision farming technologies (PF) in agriculture. To this end, methods for the generation and use of yield potential and application maps in agricultural practice are being developed in close cooperation with pilot farms. The knowledge gained on site-specific management practices, including practical experiences and experiment reports, is documented in detail and made available free of charge as software, as well as in form of manuals and digital media. Knowledge transfer of the results to a larger number of farmers aims to inform about the benefits of precision farming.
Point of departure
Whereas all over the world Precision Farming (PF), i.e. the data and GNSS/PS-supported precision agriculture is gaining increasingly in significance, only 6 % of the farmers are making use of these technologies in Austria. Therefore the economic and ecological potential of PF remains to a large extent unexploited. For the Austrian small-scaled agriculture there exist in practice several obstacles when using and spreading precision farming. Apart from the high acquisition costs for technical equipment it is often necessary to make use of services for the generation of application maps, if the farms lack time and IT know-how to do it by themselves. Furthermore independent comparisons between the numerous procedures and products of technology and software providers on the market are missing. Moreover the ecological effect achieved is not appreciated according to the current subsidisation guidelines of the Austrian Agri-environmental Programme ÖPUL. Last but not least there are frequently doubts regarding the benefit of PF systems. The project addresses this situation and wants to develop, taking into consideration the small-scaled and heterogeneous structure of agriculture in Austria, adapted methods for PF, and to make them available to the farmers. In this way the awareness for the potential of economic and ecological opportunities shall be strengthened.
Targets and target groups
The goal is the spreading of management methods which are specific for partial areas, in particular the preparation and utilisation of yield potential and application maps in agricultural practice, with special focus on small-scaled and heterogeneous farms as they are typical in Austria. As to the processing of data which are specific for partial areas the available GIS software should first be tested together with the pilot farms for their suitability regarding the requirements for the systems. In particular for the combination of various data sources a web portal and/or plug-ins for a desktop-based GIS pool will have to be implemented, with priority on the automation of the generation of maps and the simple operability. Apart from the development of the app the tasks are there to identify the current equipment and requirements for potential purchases to support the farms from the installation, via the utilisation of the maps, to the recording of the yield. In this way the attempts to evaluate the various methods can be integrated in the project. The goal is to finally make available to the farmers free of charge the project results and experiences in an appropriate software, in digital media and manuals. Furthermore the results can be used for dissemination of knowledge, for example for training of farmers and seminars with teachers and consultants. On the long run an increased use of PF technologies shall lead at the same time to the more efficient use of inputs (e.g. fertilisers, plant protection products, fuels) and to environmental benefits (avoidance of overfertilisation).
Project implementation and measures
Essential steps of the project are: (1) Examination of the available GIS software for their suitability regarding the requirements for systems and imports of data from various sources, (2) generation of yield potential and application maps by means of various methods with priority on the automation of the generation of maps and the simple easy operability, (3) transfer of the maps on the working tools and development and/or testing of the use of the maps, and (4) documentation, publication and spreading of project results and experiences.
Results and effects
Expected results are user-friendly yield potential and application maps for the agricultural practice. Overall, the project "GIS-ELA" aims to spread the use of precision farming technologies (PF) in agriculture in Austria.