A new paradigm for resilient and profitable dryland farming on the Eyre Peninsula using data to improve on-farm decision making
New and emerging technologies will be used to assist farmers make efficient use of soil moisture. The Eyre Peninsula has an extensive soil moisture probe network which is underutilised. A Regional Innovators group of farmers and advisers will engage researchers and link with the region’s farmers to develop techniques to integrate information generated from the probe network, satellite imagery, climate and yield models. Farmers will be able to make more informed, timely decisions underpinned by innovations in agronomy and livestock management in order to optimise the region’s productive potential whilst protecting soil and water resources in a changing climate.
This project is funded by the National Landcare Program 2, Smart Farming Partnerships Program. Delivery partners are:
- AIR EP
- EPAG Research
- Regional Connections
- SARDI, a division of Primary Industries & Regions SA (PIRSA)
- Square V
Support an innovative regional group of trusted influencers who will connect directly with growers and create linkages with key researchers, called the Regional Innovators, consisting of 12 representatives from consultants, retailers, farming groups, leading farmers and industry representatives. They will collaborate with researchers ensuring the project will test decisions with rigour and provide real benefits to farmer decision making and farmer’s ability to embrace innovation, and to make significant change in land management across the region.
SARDI and CSIRO will use geostatistical techniques to review the existing probe network and soil characterisations for coverage and effectiveness in the ability to provide real time landscape scale data on soil moisture status. Gaps in the landscape will be filled and technology updated to ensure a region wide coverage that can provide quality data for on farm decision making. CSIRO and SARDI will calibrate the soil moisture probes and apply geospatial modelling to interpolate the soil probe information at the 37 locations in combination with other soil property data as a means of generating value from the soil probe data at both paddock and regional scale.
CSIRO researchers with the Regional Innovators will discuss which decisions may be enhanced using emerging and available digital tools. The top 3 to 5 decisions will be prioritised and analysed to determine their economic, production and sustainability levers which will lead to identification of suitable approaches for testing with digital data. From this CSIRO will develop 5 studies where data layers are assembled to address the decisions identified. With the Regional Innovators, CSIRO and SARDI will determine if the digital approach to the decision would engender a significant practice change which would include identifying which data layers are most useful and what their potential effects are. The outcomes will contribute to field trial design. The aim is to generate of maps of ‘production risk’ as it relates to available soil water and yield potential, to improve decision making relating to ground cover management, feed on offer, crop management and options to optimise dry matter production and reduce erosion risk.
Post-field trial analysis by CSIRO with the field trial team, the Regional Innovators and the App team (Square V) will evaluate the usefulness of the individual data layers at the end of each year to identify the most useful/ adoptable format for delivery of the data.
SARDI Climate Applications group will work with the Regional Innovators to determine the influence of the combination of soil moisture and dynamic weather forecasting on farm decision making. A climate risk analysis will be conduct at key sites on Eyre Peninsula. Further analysis will be based on response from the Regional Innovators and more sophisticated seasonal weather forecasting tools from BOM.
EP Ag Research and SARDI will establish a set of 24 field trials over the course of the project to validate and demonstrate practices that will take advantage of the new ability to make informed decisions on the soil /water interface across the region. This will include out of season options for dry matter production, use of permanent pasture options in areas that are no longer profitable for cropping, timing of operations to maximise soil water utilisation.
Square V will enhance the use of imagery, linking information to decision making through setting appropriate trigger points will be displayed on a user-friendly mobile application. The application will provide real time information to farmers and advisers of approaching critical decision points.
Multi-channelled communications and extension program to be delivered.
Project steering committee:
Andrew Ware, EPAG Research
Therese McBeath, CSIRO
Mark Stanley, Regional Connections
Amanda Cook, SARDI, Minnipa Agricultural Centre
Peter Hayman, SARDI Climate Applications
Naomi Scholz, Executive Officer, AIR EP
Susan Stovell, EP Landscape Board
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