Currently grains is Australia’s largest agricultural industry, contributing 29% ($18 billion) of the total value of national farm production. Whilst in many instances the quality of Australian grains (wheat, barley, canola, etc.) is known to be very high, the grower quantities and yield per hectare statistics of our domestic grain production fall below those of competing regions such as the US and the European Union. In the majority of cases this yield gap of Australian grains is caused by sub-optimal farm management and inefficient application of key inputs such as fertiliser and seeding.
The introduction of agri-data management systems and broadacre whole-farm measurement tools using precision agriculture are now posing the potential to revolutionise Australia’s grains industry and their functionality is now increasingly wide-spread. This project is looking to utilise the power of data and precision agriculture by applying it via methods of on farm experimentation. In conjunction with our partners, this project will be trialed and rolled out initially across WA grains producers (Australia’s largest grains producing state) with the expectation that extension of findings and processes will be transferable Australia-wide.
The significance of using this process of on farm trials is that it puts the experimentation back into the hands of farmers, consistently involving the end-users who are well equipped to produce big data results via precision agriculture. Within the broader range of testing, each paddock experiment conducted by producers will instruct them to alter just one aspect of their production (e.g. fertiliser use, chemical rates, variety or cultivation practice) and submit their obtained yields. By monitoring these data outputs and applying principles of continuous improvement, producers, researchers and industry partners alike will be well equipped to collectively deliver solutions to ensure more competitive production efficiencies and profitability of Australian grain enterprises.
The highly collaborative environment surrounding this on farm research will ensure that the outcomes will be shared and embraced across the extensive networks of supply chains. This means that growers, suppliers and facilitating bodies will be collectively well equipped to adapt to ever-changing market forces, and will ensure that growers are able to continually improve their standards. Additionally, any reduction in input costs and/or yield improvements will have powerful national scalability.
Our research connections and upcoming education programs will also work to ensure that Australia's grains industries are "future-proofed" and will demonstrate a globally competitive understanding and implementation of data driven farm management.