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WA Research to Help Farmers Make More Informed Decisions

A new partnership involving UWA will see vast amounts of WA agricultural data collected and analysed, at an unprecedented scale, to help farmers make more informed decisions.

Field workers and researchers will compile data on crop varieties, their growth, and how they are impacted by weather conditions, soil varieties and fertilisers. The WA data along with national data will be made broadly available to farmers through the Agriculture Research Data Cloud project, helping to unlock the $19.1 billion potential value of agriculture in Australia.

Recent advances in on-farm data collection has resulted in a world where everything relating to agriculture can be monitored, however significant challenges lie ahead in integrating such data to best inform real time farming decisions.

WA Project team leader Dr Nic Taylor from UWA’s School of Molecular Sciences and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology said using technology to capture and analyse data was vital for the future of agriculture.

“This is an important stepping stone towards a new way of approaching agriculture,” Dr Taylor said.

“With ‘Decision Agriculture,’ we can make use of an amazing array of data and technology that can be accessed remotely by farmers anywhere in Australia to help inform key managerial decisions including seasonal programs, fertiliser inputs and disease and pest control. This is in addition to responding to seasonal conditions in a timely manner.

“This complexity of data has not been available broadly across the agriculture industry before so it’s an exciting step.

“Agriculture is at a really exciting juncture. This project is perfectly timed to take advantage of the latest developments in on-farm data capture and to kick-start the process of providing end users with knowledge and tools to make data-driven farming decisions.”

Dr Ben Biddulph from DPIRD said the scale of data being collected, both for crop research and on farms had consistently increased in the past decade. “Every year, cheaper solutions become available which make in-depth data collection more feasible,” he said.

The Agriculture Research Data Cloud project has provided the WA research team with $163,000 in funding through the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC), bringing together knowledge and expertise to make a significant difference to the way the industry operates. ARDC is supported by the Australian Government through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy.

Source: http://www.news.uwa.edu.au/

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