Technology and Tools

Technology and Tools Connecting Farmers to their Soils

Funding:  National Landcare Program 2 – Smart Farms Small Grants (Round 1; 2017-2018) 
Project Partners: FarmLink, Discovery Ag 
Project Code: 4-9GLI9RK
Project Duration: 2019-2020
Project Location: FarmLink Region

Background

Broadacre agriculture uses the yield gap measure to evaluate the difference between potential yield achievable on any parcel of land and the farmer’s actual yield. Moisture availability to the plant is the key parameter that drives yield throughout any season, followed by nutrient availability. Without accurate localised data, informed decision making about matching plant nutrition to water available to the plant is very difficult.This project will demonstrate the integration of innovative sensor and connectivity technologies to support soil data capture and related on farm management decisions.
Innovative soil moisture sensors linked to auto-weather stations will be installed on five farms in the FarmLink district and networked using novel LoRaWAN technology to transmit data over two cropping seasons. Farmer participants will receive training in interpreting data through the on-line platform which includes subscription to  APSIM based yield modelling software. This project will demonstrate the effectiveness of new generation sensors and viable solutions for connectivity constraints. It targets two barriers to adoption of sensor technology supported decision making in broadacre cropping: 1) knowledge and understanding of the sensors and the data they produce and 2) inability to transmit and therefore use data collected via a sensor network in real time. Model farms will be public demonstrations of the technology and its uses, as well as the subject of case studies developed for public dissemination. The project will also assess the economics of adoption. 


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