February 24, 2024

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Digital Twins Concept Boosts Food Production in Australia

Image Credits: University of Queensland, Video, Press Release

Using technology familiar to computer gamers, University of Queensland scientists are creating ‘digital twins’ of mango and macadamia orchards to help boost food production. Professor Neena Mitter, the Director of the Centre of Horticultural Science at Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI), said it was an example of how computers were changing the industry.

Professor Mitter said that developing a digital model for an orchard with slow-growing crops like mango and macadamia enables us to run virtual experiments at a scale and speed never before possible. Digital technologies offer an unprecedented acceleration in innovation that will help make food production more productive, resilient, and sustainable.

Lead researcher Dr Liqi Han said the technology would particularly benefit slow-growing crops like fruit trees. Digital modelling provides untapped opportunities for users to rapidly trial new ideas and acquires a reliable indicator of how to best optimise production systems. This technology is called ‘DigiHort’, short for Digital Horticulture.

The computer simulations can be a conceptual design of an orchard that doesn’t yet exist, a digital twin or detailed replica of an existing orchard, or a digital variant, where changes are made to a digital twin.

All three forms can be integrated with environmental and management simulators. For example, this might include sunlight and chemical spray simulations to allow for evaluation and optimisation of orchard management practice.

Virtual trials start with the design, with software users able to decide where in a landscape to plant trees, the density of the canopies and the configuration of the rows. Users then consider how the trees are maintained, wielding virtual pruners and testing the impact of different – and even unconventional – tree training systems.

This innovation is based on new LiDAR scanning technology applications undertaken with an industry partner as well as state government research stations in Queensland, Western Australia and Northern Territory. It relies on High-Performance Computing (HPC), which allows Dr Han to run extremely fast virtual experiments without loss of accuracy.

These days, there is a growing conversation around precision agriculture. Precision is enhanced by looking at the details, such as how much light can be captured by each leaf or fruit, or the distribution of sprayed chemicals across the canopy. These small benefits can be accumulated into big benefits or big losses can be prevented from occurring. And the team has found that small differences can have a big impact.

The DigiHort platform was designed as a decision-support service for industry and will be accessible via the internet. Recent research found that the precision farming market is estimated to be US$7.0 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach US$12.8 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 12.7% between 2020 and 2025.

The major factors driving the growth of the precision farming market include increasing farm mechanization in developing countries, rising labour costs owing to shortage of skilled labour, increasing strain on the global food supply owing to increasing population, substantial cost savings associated with smart farming techniques, and government initiatives to adopt modern agricultural techniques.

Precision farming is gaining tremendous popularity among farmers due to the increasing need for optimum crop production with limited available resources. Further, the changing weather patterns due to increasing global warming have impelled the adoption of advanced farming technologies to enhance farm productivity and crop yield.

Precision farming has the potential to transform the agricultural sector, making the traditional farming activity more efficient and predictable. Increasing global food demand, extended profitability and crop yield, and crop health monitoring for higher yield production are the major factors fuelling the growth of the precision farming market. Also, government initiatives in many countries are helping farmers to use optimized agricultural and technological tools to improve their production levels.

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Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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CTC Global Singapore, a premier end-to-end IT solutions provider, is a fully owned subsidiary of ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation (CTC) and ITOCHU Corporation.

Since 1972, CTC has established itself as one of the country’s top IT solutions providers. With 50 years of experience, headed by an experienced management team and staffed by over 200 qualified IT professionals, we support organizations with integrated IT solutions expertise in Autonomous IT, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

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SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.

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