CSIRO’s Online Tools for Farmers and Graziers

Biodiversity Calculator leader, Dr Cara Stitzlein. Image courtesy of CSIRO
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The CSIRO has been very busy developing a range of online tools for agribusiness. They now have several online tools for Australian agribusiness, including fertiliser runoff, carbon farming, weather analytics, “Farming Forecaster”, and Wheatcast™.

In terms of fertiliser runoff, in a world-first, sugarcane farmers in far North Queensland can now use an online tool to help manage fertiliser use. It is used to reduce nitrogen runoff into the Great Barrier Reef from intensive crop production. The online app 1622™WQ gives real-time information on water quality in local waterways. High frequency automatic sensors are deployed in waterways and coastal catchments. CSIRO performs advanced data analytics, enabling nitrate concentrations and rainfall to be displayed in real-time.

Carbon farming is a fairly new farming practice that reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It captures and holds carbon in plants and soil. The CSIRO has developed some high-tech tools to help farmers decide to undertake a project or not. Their online app LOOC-C is a tool for farmers to quickly assess the greenhouse gas abatement options for a specific land area, such as a paddock. This includes estimates in Australian Carbon Credit Units. They’ve also recently developed a related tool LOOC-B, which looks at the biodiversity co-benefits of land management actions such as carbon farming. It can show how different management strategies influence native pant and animal biodiversity.

Obviously, the weather and climate are crucial to maximising best practice for farming. Having the right information, at the right time, can help farmers make the right decision. Until now, it hasn’t been easy to display Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) weather and climate data in online tools. However, the CSIRO has taken BOM’s historical, real-time or forecast data and applied its cutting cutting-edge analytics to make the information available for any specific location in Australia in real-time. This information is available through CSIRO’s Ag Climate Data Shop.

In addition to these new tools, CSIRO launched Farming Forecaster in 2020, which helps support decisions and reduce risk for Australian farmers. It provides soil moisture probe information, pasture forecasts and weather all in the same application. It’s the most advanced tool available of its kind.

Wheatcast™ is a newly added tool that uses innovative analytics and data from the Bureau of Meteorology and the Australian Soil and Landscape Grid. Each fortnight during the grain growing season, CSIRO posts free, select forecasts of Australia’s national and state wheat yields.

Forecasts for 2022 began in April. As at 1 June, Wheatcast’s™ median national forecast for 2022 is 2.57 tonnes per hectare, which is above the 15-year national average of 1.82 tonnes per hectare. So, it’s good news for farmers at this stage.

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