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Precision and digital systems underpin Future Farm 2 project

Future Farm 2 aims to boost the return on nitrogen fertiliser applications.
Photo: André Colao

Putting soil and crop sensors into practice to help manage crop inputs.

The ambitious technology-led Future Farm 2 project aims to increase profits for Australian grain growers via practical applications of precision and digital agriculture, with a specific focus on nitrogen fertiliser applications.

Rob Bramley, CSIRO Senior Principal Research Scientist  precision agriculture, says the 4.5-year Future Farm 2 project will improve the way soil and crop sensors inform decisions about input management.

We want to enhance how growers form and implement decisions by automating the process of data acquisition and make analysis easier, he says.

The 4.5-year Future Farm 2 project will improve the way soil and crop sensors inform decisions about input management - CSIRO Senior Principal Research Scientist precision agriculture Rob Bramley,

The project is a nationally coordinated investment that brings together multi-disciplinary expertise in sensing, crop modelling, data analytics and automation.

As an exemplary use case, it will focus on enabling growers to optimise profit from nitrogen fertiliser applications, Mr Bramley says.

The project will leverage GRDC investment to increase and improve use of in-season field-monitored soil, crop and climatic data including historic on-farm data, external public and private data.

We aim to develop site-specific management models and automation of decision rules in software that may potentially be linked to real-time application equipment, Dr Bramley says.

Future Farm phase 2: Improving farmer confidence in targeted nitrogen management through automated sensing and decision support is a co-investment by GRDC and its partners.

These partners are the CSIRO, Queensland University of Technology, the University of Sydney, University of Southern Queensland, and the Victorian Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.

Managing extreme climate events

A new project will deliver direct value to growers through improving the seasonal forecast of extreme climate events, including low and high rainfall, heat, cold and frost.

The Rural R&D For Profit project, Forewarned is Forearmed, is led by Meat & Livestock Australia and aims to equip growers and agricultural value chains to proactively manage the impacts of extreme climate events.

Liam Ryan, GRDC Manager Transformational Technologies, says extreme events and climate variability are the largest drivers of fluctuations in annual agricultural income and production.

A grains industry reference group (GIRG) coordinated by Peter Hayman, South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI), and GRDC has been established to provide feedback on new experimental forecast products as part of the project.

GIRG members met with researchers from the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and SARDI in August, 2018, to discuss the forecast needs of grain growers at key decision points within winter and summer cropping systems across Australia.

BoM also held a draft webinar showcasing experimental forecast products in November, 2018, via an online community of practice managed by Birchip Cropping group.

The Forewarned is Forearmed project is a coordinated investment supported by the Managing Climate Variability Program.

The project is supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit program, with cash and in-kind support from 14 project partners, including GRDC.

More information: Rob Bramley,; Liam Ryan,

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