Agriculture is big business, half of Australia’s land mass is agricultural land, it provides 85% of our domestic food supply and contributes 15% of our export earnings, directly employs 300,000 people in production and 1.6 million people throughout the entire food and fibre supply chain.
Digital agriculture presents a novel method to meet the global challenge of increasing food production for a growing population, while not degrading our soil and water resources in the process.
The global mission is to produce increased amounts of food and fibre more efficiently, in terms of the use of water, nutrients and physical inputs into the production process.
Adding a layer of complexity to this challenge is the increasing demands by consumers in regard to the provenance, quality and ecological footprint of their food and fibre products.
Digital Agriculture is an approach that brings to bear the power of digital and information technologies to the business of agriculture with great potential for success.
However, our current agriculture practices are fragmented - all the digital components of precision agriculture, data analytics, field robotics, smart sensors, digital logistics and supply chains are not integrated.
The ability to bring them together into an integrated framework will transform our agricultural production and related supply chains.
The introduction of digital agriculture is predicted to have an enormous impact to our economy - including an increase in the gross value of production across the Australia agricultural sector by 25%, and in some parts such as the grains industry, the increase can be as high as 51%.
This prediction does not include the enormous social and economic benefits that digital agriculture technologies can bring through embedding provenance, traceability and customer feedback in the supply chain of commodities such as wheat.
This will enable growers to decommoditise their products through new marketing opportunities related to the origin and quality of their products, and the sustainability of their farming systems.
The Digital Agriculture Theme within Sydney Institute of Agriculture and the Digital Sciences Initiative brings together researchers across the university with expertise and skills to realise the opportunity provided by Digital Agriculture.
Our expert: Professor Thomas Bishop
Our partners: GRDC, CSIRO, University of Southern Queensland, Australian National University, Bureau of Meteorology
SoilWaterNow is a GRDC funded project aimed at developing an approach to predict in near real-time plant available soil water using both on-farm and freely available datasets. It is a collaboration with CSIRO, University of Southern Queensland, Australian National University and the Bureau of Meteorology.
As part of the project the modelling approach is being tested at Llara and Nowley and is leveraging off the soil moisture probe network established as part of the DigiFarm project.