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CSIRO partnering with leading agribusiness to explore development of data-driven solutions for Australian agriculture

Photo credit: CSIRO

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia has entered into a partnership with ASX-listed leading agribusiness company, Ruralco, to explore the use of the latest digital technology, including drones and long-range sensing in Australian agriculture.

The agriculture sector in Australia is worth more than $50 billion and grew by $3.1 billion in 2015-16. By combining CSIRO’s expertise in data science research and engineering, and proven track record of agricultural innovation with Ruralco's on-ground network, the partnership is expected to deliver new digital solutions to farmers throughout the country.

The two organisations will develop data-driven solutions for more efficient and sustainable farming through a series of projects to be rolled out in coming months, with focus in the following areas:  

  • Exploring the potential of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones in long-range livestock detection to improve muster effectiveness
  • Nutrient and fertiliser management in areas of high conservation value, such as the Great Barrier Reef
  • The development of long-range sensing to automate and streamline operations, including water management, livestock safety and security
  • Adaptation of geospatial tools to provide an interface between Ruralco customers and their advisers, making use of real time data for improved decision making and planning.

Travis Dillon, CEO and Managing Director of Ruralco said, "Drone technology is facilitating data-driven decision making in agriculture. Farmers can better analyse issues which affect productivity and sustainability such as: effective nutrient delivery; plant growth; and combat bio-security issues such as invasive species and pest infestation.”

Ruralco has been working with American company PrecisionHawk as their drone and data analytics innovation partner.

Adrian Turner, CEO of CSIRO's data innovation group Data61, highlighted his team’s deep, globally recognised capability in robotics, remote sensing and data analytics and said, “This partnership is an example of us teaming up with Australian industry to help them capitalise on the next computing cycle, at the intersection of data and domains like agriculture.”

Data61’s work in cyber physical systems, machine learning and analytics, software and computational systems and decision sciences will all play a role. Data 61’s technologies are capable of storing and distributing data efficiently and reliably over long distances. In addition, Data61 is working to make remote sensing accurate, robust, secure and trusted.

Digital Agriculture lead with CSIRO, Dr. Dave Henry said, “It's early days with the use of drones in agriculture and this partnership with Ruralco will allow us to explore and quantify those situations where the use of drones will aid farmer decision-making in livestock and cropping," said Dr. Henry.

In July, CSIRO released its Food & Agribusiness (F&A) Roadmap, which explores the potential of using technologies such as Blockchain, biosensing and machine learning in areas such as traceability and provenance of products and food safety and biosecurity.

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