CSIRO & Ruralco set out to advance digital farming in Australia


The CSIRO has partnered with ASX listed agribusiness, Ruralco, to develop data-driven solutions for more efficient and sustainable farming.

CSIRO said the partnership will roll out a series of projects in the coming months that will see the latest digital technology, including drones and long-range sensing, applied to Australian agriculture.

These projects will cover several areas of focus for CSIRO and Ruralco including exploring the potential of drones in long-range livestock detection to improve muster effectiveness, as well as nutrient and fertiliser management in areas of high conservation value, such as the Great Barrier Reef.

The partnership will also aim to develop long-range sensing to automate and streamline operations (including water management, livestock safety and security), in addition to pushing for 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 the partnership will combine CSIRO’s expertise in data science research and engineering, and proven track record of agricultural innovation, with the company’s on-ground network to deliver new digital solutions to farmers throughout the country.

“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,” Mr Dillon said.

“Ruralco is well positioned to deliver innovative technology through our 600 national outlets.”

Adrian Turner, CEO of CSIRO’s data innovation group Data61, said the two parties will help Australian industry capitalise on the next computing cycle, at the intersection of data and domains like agriculture.

“Our work in cyber physical systems, machine learning and analytics, software and computational systems and decision sciences will all play a role. Our technologies are capable of storing and distributing data efficiently and reliably over long distances. More importantly, we are helping to make remote sensing accurate, robust, secure and trusted,” Mr Turner added.

“Ruralco will be a strong design and commercialisation partner with their large national footprint and customer base.”

Digital Agriculture lead with CSIRO, Dave Henry said the alliance will further digital agriculture to allow Australian agribusiness to become ‘more productive, profitable and sustainable into the future’.

“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,” Dr Henry concluded.

Image credit: www.csiro.au