Wimmera Grain Industry Trials now Available via Online Farm Trials
Online Farm Trials (OFT), a web-based resource enabling grain industry stakeholders’ access to farm trials research, now includes trials from grower groups in the Wimmera and South West Victoria.
The project is being led by researchers at the Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) at Federation University and has been funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) together with collaboration from a number of industry stakeholders.
Launched in September 2014, the OFT team worked closely with Southern Farming Systems (SFS) in the Wimmera and South West Victoria during the pilot phase to refine the OFT system. Via the OFT website users can source relevant farm trial information using advanced search and filter tools.
Southern Farming Systems, a grower group based in Western Victoria, is one of OFT’s strongest industry collaborators having shared over 800 trials for the project.
Cam Nicholson an Agricultural Consultant with Southern Farm Systems said they were originally interested to collaborate on the project and to examine changing trends over time. “We’d already started putting our historic data on a database, so when the Online Farm Trials project came up it was logical for us because we’d already started that process and had some historic data to use,” Mr Nicholson said. He also commented on the huge potential for OFT: “First, it offers a way of being able to go back and look at historic information. To have that archive where you can go back and say, ‘have we done any work on this 10 years, 15 years ago,’ is really useful. Second, it’s a very nifty filtering tool. You can have an awful amount of information there but can very quickly narrow it down to the topic that you want and the type of information you are looking for.”
There are currently more than 2,500 trial research projects on the OFT system, with further expansion to occur with the recent engagement of grower groups from the NSW, SA and WA cropping regions.
In Western Victoria, the OFT team is also working with Birchip Cropping Group (BCG) who are currently in the data entry stage of information sharing. OFT project manager Robert Milne said CeRDI had a long history of working with BCG and looked forward to extending the relationship to OFT: “Having two grower groups (SFS and BCG) in a relatively close geographic area sharing trial information allows farmers to make more informed farming decisions”.
The commitment of sharing trial information by farming groups with OFT is essential for the industry. Mr Nicholson believes SFS and other farming groups have a responsibility to ensure their information is as accessible as possible to the largest number of people. OFT provides the gateway for this to occur: “I see Online Farm Trials as a great way of being able to share information and take the industry forward,” commented Mr Nicholson.
The OFT project will continue to be developed and extended throughout 2015 with consolidation and digitisation of farm trial reports and summaries occurring during this time. Anyone interested in searching or sharing trial research should visit www.farmtrials.com.au