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Enhancing Australian Agriculture through Space Sensor Technology

Image Credits: SmartSat CRC, Press Release

SmartSat CRC has initiated a novel research initiative named Maya Nula, to enhance Australia’s agricultural sector by developing space sensor technology for Australian satellite Earth Observation (EO) capabilities.

The research programme called Maya Nula, meaning “eyes here, there, everywhere” in the Dharug language, focuses on establishing an agricultural intelligence capability using space-based observations. Led by SmartSat CRC, this initiative aims to foster innovative research projects that cater to the increasing demand from Australian farmers to mitigate risks and enhance agricultural productivity through environmentally sustainable methods. Moreover, the programme will assist in the implementation and monitoring of climate-resilient and sustainable farming practices.

SmartSat CRC will undertake a series of projects to develop a measurement, reporting, and verification (MRV) tool that facilitates the communication of sustainable farming practices about soil health, crop conditions, biosecurity, and environmental factors. These projects will be collaboratively funded by research organisations, government entities, and industry stakeholders, emphasising a collective effort to drive advancements in the agricultural sector.

According to the CEO of SmartSat, the integration of space assets and on-ground sensor technology can play a pivotal role in monitoring crops and creating advanced prediction models. These technological advancements have the potential to enhance commercial outcomes by providing more accurate guidance and simultaneously safeguarding the environment.

By leveraging the power of space-based resources and sensor technology, a more comprehensive understanding of agricultural conditions can be achieved, leading to informed decision-making and improved outcomes for both the agricultural industry and environmental conservation efforts.

Sustainable farming practices are crucial to meet the growing demand for high-quality food, as the world’s population is predicted to reach 9.8 billion by 2050. Through the integration of terrestrial and space technologies, the Maya Nula research programme aims to enhance agricultural intelligence, enabling farmers to achieve higher yields of nutritious food, fulfil domestic needs, and increase exports of Australian agricultural products.

Furthermore, SmartSat’s commitment to the preservation and protection of natural resources, in collaboration with First Nations people who possess valuable knowledge of Australia’s land and conservation practices. By incorporating climate resilience and supply provenance practices into farming, the Maya Nula initiative can assist Australian farmers in adapting to changing weather conditions, mitigating crop failures, ensuring a stable food supply, improving efficiency and profitability, and maintaining market access.

The Maya Nula Research Programme Lead and Principal Scientist in Earth Observation at SmartSat, emphasises that the programme is not only necessary but also a meaningful investment. Its primary goal is to ensure the security and prosperity of Australian farming in the face of changing climate scenarios.

By developing advanced satellite Earth Observation capabilities and using space sensor technology, the Maya Nula programme aims to provide valuable insights and intelligence to farmers. This will enable them to make informed decisions, adapt to evolving climate conditions, and ensure the long-term sustainability and success of the Australian agriculture industry.

The introduction of the Maya Nula Research Programme will be marked by a ceremony held in Canberra, where Dharug elders, who were actively consulted, will be present. The consultation with the elders encompassed crucial aspects such as the programme’s name and the desired outcomes of potential emerging technologies.

With the support of SmartSat Maya Nula Capability Demonstrator funding, SmartSat will spearhead the development of a comprehensive work programme. This initiative will involve partnerships with research and development (R&D) centres, government bodies, universities, and industry stakeholders. Through collaboration, the programme aims to foster innovation and advancements in the field of agricultural intelligence, further solidifying the Maya Nula research programme’s objectives.

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