Third generation farmer from Clare, North Queensland, Andrè Rapisarda, discusses the history of Rapisarda Enterprises and their relationship with Vantage BMS.
For more than 50 years, Rapisarda Enterprises has been growing sugarcane, rockmelons, watermelons and pumpkins on the family farm in Clare, North Queensland. The 2800ha sugarcane and cucurbit operation employs 50 full-time staff and incorporates many Trimble systems and custom yield monitoring solutions from Vantage BMS.
Andrè Rapisarda, a third-generation farmer on the family property, is responsible for the management and organisation of employees, inputs, and all facets of the day-to-day operations.
As early adopters of the Trimble Agriculture systems, Rapisarda Enterprises has a long-standing partnership with Vantage BMS, Australia's largest Trimble precision technology dealer, dating back to the 1980s.
Since implementing Trimble guidance and steering systems in the early 2000s, Rapisarda Enterprises now has 24 machines with autosteer capability. For Rapisarda Enterprises, autosteer has boosted yields, reduced input costs and greatly benefitted their staff.
By removing human error and decreasing employee fatigue, operators can be less specialised and work longer hours, with all rows still cultivated and planted with precision. This has allowed for more time to be invested in other aspects of their operations.
“Trimble’s guidance systems allow us to create bays of rows for horticulture crops exactly 18 rows wide while leaving two rows for headlands,” says Andrè.
“The system removes the need for manually counting rows when spraying with a 30m boom sprayer. We just hit ‘auto’ on the steering system and find the next swath automatically.”
“We also can put in straight, level fluming lines for efficient sugarcane irrigation and measure distances to a 2cm accuracy for the trickle irrigation setup for our cucurbits.” Andre continues.
SUGARCANE YIELD MONITORING SYSTEM
Growing up on the farm, Andrè developed a keen interest in agriculture, leading him to study Sustainable Agriculture (Horticulture) and Agribusiness at the University of Queensland.
After his studies, Andre came back to the farm with a clear goal of how to increase cane yield; by identifying, isolating, and applying the correct amount of ameliorants and fertiliser to lower and higher performing field areas.
To achieve this goal, Andrè partnered with Vantage BMS for the 21-22 and 22-23 seasons to implement Vantage’s custom Sugarcane Yield Monitoring System.
“We adopted Vantage’s Sugarcane Yield Monitoring System to accurately measure the cane’s crop yield and to identify areas of our fields that are lower yielding,” says Andrè.
With no ready-made yield monitoring solution for sugarcane, Vantage developed the Sugarcane Yield Monitoring System to enable farmers to understand their yield variability.
The system has various sensors mounted on the cane harvesters and works in conjunction with the Trimble TMX-2050™ display system to show real-time yield data when harvesting.
This data is then synced with the Trimble Ag software, which uses the yield calibration routine to accurately match the relative yield to the mill weights.
“The Sugarcane Yield Monitoring System has helped us make decisions on the amelioration of the soil and with the fertilising of our sugarcane operations,” says Andrè. “We adopted this system due to increasing input costs and the current high value of sugar."
“The raw yield data comes into the Trimble Ag Software online,” Andrè explains. “I then clean the yield and create zones. The number of zones depends on the extent of the variability. Once I am happy with the zones, I allocate a per-hectare rate of either fertiliser or gypsum to each zone.”
“The system helps with management decisions and streamlines the process, without having to physically extract and install data by USB.”
By using a range of Trimble precision agriculture technologies and applications from Vantage BMS, Rapisarda Enterprises continues to increase yield, lower input costs, and boost productivity. Rapisarda Enterprises grow 170,000 tonnes of sugarcane per year and hope to see this increase through their investment in precision ag.
Working with Vantage BMS has been rewarding for Rapisarda Enterprises. They’re always seeking ways to further increase yields and lower input costs using precision ag technologies and end-to-end systems from Vantage BMS.
“We’ve been with Lew and Mussy from the start,” says Andrè. “Through our long relationship with the Vantage BMS team in Ayr, we've adopted more systems to increase efficiencies on the farm.”
Michael Munro of the Vantage BMS, Ayr, has assisted with the installation, implementation and maintenance of all the systems and processes across the Rapisarda’s operations.
“We began working with the Rapisarda’s in the 1980s and, since then, Rapisarda Enterprises has installed a number of systems across their fleet of machines and in their operations,” says Michael Munro, General Manager of Vantage BMS.
“We will continue developing our end-to-end Sugarcane Yield Monitoring System, to allow cane farmers, like the Rapisarda’s, to continuously understand their yield variability, better.” States Michael.
“We’ve had a long relationship with Vantage and particularly with the team at the Ayr office,” says Andrè. “Their support is unmatched. We look forward to continuing our long relationship with them!”
Watch the video to learn more about Rapisarda Enterprises and how they utilise yield data to enhance their production.
Learn more about the Sugarcane Yield Monitoring System or contact your local Vantage rep