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CSIRO Co-Developing Smart Farming Tech Platform

Image Credits: CSIRO, Press Release

A collaboration between Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, an Australian ag-tech start-up, and an American multinational technology corporation will aim to unlock the full value of on-farm data, enabling farmers to optimise profitability and sustainability. The new platform will bring together disparate data sets to help farmers see a fuller picture of their own property, above and below the surface.

This new platform takes real-time data and puts it into the hands of farmers in a way that is easy to use and simple to interpret – so they can confidently make critical decisions, like matching their sowing timetable to soil moisture profiles or planning water catchment systems based on the natural flow patterns of their properties. It creates richly detailed digital twins, using high-resolution maps of farming properties and advanced modelling techniques, including predicting the flow of water across every hectare of the farm.

The start-up is now looking to make that same capability accessible to farmers across Australia through their AgTwin platform, which delivers a detailed “Digital Foundation” of the complete farming system combined with next-gen modelling capabilities and dynamic overlays.

The Co-Founder and CEO of the start-up stated that sea change is underway in Australian agriculture. He noted that the shift towards digitisation of agriculture means there is this fundamental need to digitise the farming system. There is an incredible amount of data available to farmers, but being able to integrate it, apply it directly and specifically to their own farms, and act on it, has been difficult.

At CSIRO’s Boorowa Agricultural Research Station, the AgTwin platform is used to present a rich collection of data channelled through CSIRO’s Senaps platform and the multinational tech company’s Azure FarmBeats.

Azure FarmBeats is a research project from the tech company’s research arm that has developed into complete data integration and aggregation platform in the cloud. It brings together multiple agricultural data sets – including data sourced from in-soil and on-farm sensors, satellite imagery and drones as well as Bureau of Meteorology data, which can be analysed using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.

The CTO of the multinational tech company’s ANZ branch stated that agriculture is one of Australia’s primary industries that now have the opportunity to reimagine many practices thanks to access to up-to-date and reliable insights. AI and data combine to deliver real-time insights, visualised intuitively, allowing individual farmers to use technology to develop an accurate digital twin of their farm and use that to plan what to plant when to harvest, and how to manage the environment.

The start-up is one of several partners working with the multinational tech company around the world bringing unique capability and expertise to the sector, leveraging Azure FarmBeats and heralding a new era of modern, resilient and sustainable digital farming.

The platform leverages CSIRO’s deep agricultural domain knowledge and Senaps data and analytics services with AI-infused analytics and modelling, enhancing the way CSIRO’s digital research can benefit the industry by providing farmers with tactical and strategic decision-making insights.

According to the Principal Research Scientist and Research Leader in Digital Agriculture for CSIRO, the integration of the start-up’s digital mapping and Azure FarmBeats will make it possible to observe every single part of a property and see data and insights not only about individual parts but also how they change spatially across the farm and across time. He noted that the experience so far with CSIRO’s agricultural research station is that the team can customise, data-driven insights in a timely and easily interpreted way to help them make informed decisions.

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