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Precision Agriculture

Precision Agriculture is one of Australia’s most experienced agriculture technology providers. In 2017, the company initiated a three-year research collaboration with Federation University Australia to accelerate the adoption of precision farming techniques in Australia. This collaboration will see Precision Agriculture and FedUni’s CeRDI co-creating innovative digital agriculture, spatial mapping, data visualisation and decision support tools in response to farmer and farm adviser needs across broad acre cropping, horticulture, viticulture and pasture-based systems.

Background

With operations around the country, Precision Agriculture supports more than 600 agribusinesses to drive increased farm productivity and sustainability through the practical application of spatial technologies. As a pioneer agricultural company in Australia, Precision Agriculture has a wealth of experience from small farming enterprises to the highest levels of industry.

CeRDI is a global leader in data interoperability and has developed many award-winning web-based spatial information and knowledge portals. CeRDI Director, Helen Thompson said the volume of digital data in Australian agriculture is growing exponentially, with much of it now collected by sensors.

One of the principle aims of this research is to link and connect multiple layers of data in the digital platform so that it can be viewed easily, and on demand, by growers. In turn, this information will drive more objective and timely decision-making such as variable rate applications of fertiliser, seed, fungicides, herbicides and other key crop inputs.

The first project will therefore concentrate on digital enhancements to Precision Agriculture’s business processes and customer solutions. Innovative approaches to agricultural data from disparate sources will be adopted using international standards for the interoperable exchange of data.

Estimating variability in plant-available water across a paddock based on weather, soil moisture and a range of spatial datasets collected by farmers (such as electromagnetic (EM) surveys, yield maps, normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI) images), when allowing for other parameters that drive variability (including soil chemistry, pH, sodicity and texture contrast soils) will be the focus of a second project.

Variable Rate Technology for Applying Lime

Variable Rate Technology for Applying Lime

Another area of research focus will be the development of real-world and practical use cases through a collaborative process with farmers and other end-users who understand the potential of new technologies to deliver desirable or exceptional outcomes.

Outcomes

Internally-held Precision Agriculture data including many thousands of soil tests collected and analysed over recent years will be combined with climate, terrain, soil, geology, geomorphology, drainage, satellite and other key data sets. This will enhance the evidence-base available to Precision Agriculture as a basis for recommendations in a range of variable rate nutrition and soil management solutions.

Innovation

CeRDI’s expertise across knowledge management, spatial mapping, data interoperability and participatory geographic information system are all areas fundamental to Precision Agriculture. This partnership will provide us with access to highly experienced researchers, technologists and social scientists. Together we will work to improve farm productivity and profitability while growing Precision Agriculture services.

Approach

The research collaboration with Precision Agriculture will provide an exemplar of how research impact can be fostered through long-term research collaboration with industry. The partnership between Precision Agriculture and CeRDI will involve a series of applied, real-world projects focused on advancing agribusiness decision making through data, insight and action.

Future Directions

A PhD project is aligned with this research partnership. The selected candidate will commence their studies in 2019.

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