Cropping

App forecasts grain yields

By Country News

For the first time, Australian farmers can forecast grain yield at the touch of a button, thanks to a new smartphone app developed by Australia’s national science agency CSIRO.

Graincast allows growers to estimate yields ranging from a single paddock, right up to their entire farm.

‘‘Having a yield forecast can help farmers with crop input management, setting yield targets, diagnosing yield constraints, risk management, marketing decisions, forward selling and more,’’ CSIRO scientist Roger Lawes said.

‘‘The app is easy to use and growers need to input just three pieces of information — the paddock they want analysed, the crop grown last season and the crop they plan to grow or are growing in the current season.’’

It is the only app that gives instantaneous soil, water and yield information at any time without the need for substantial user input.

It means growers can make better informed crop and paddock management decisions, in near real-time, like never before.

The app was developed by CSIRO scientists in response to feedback from grain growers about what they needed and what they liked about their jobs.

‘‘They told us that they wanted something that was mobile, quick and easy to use,’’ Dr Lawes said.

‘‘They didn’t want to be told what to do, they just wanted the key information so they could decide what was best for them. So that’s what we built.’’

Graincast draws on information from satellites, climate forecasts and sensors to estimate historical crop yields, yield potential and crop species.

Crop models are combined with soil maps to create yield forecasts for the Australian continent.

In an Australian first, the smarts behind the app enable various other industry players such as advisers, bulk handlers, marketers, commodity forecasters and insurers to forecast grain production at the regional and national scales.

■The app is free and available by emailing graincast@csiro.au

■For more information about the app and crop yield forecasts, visit: research.csiro.au/graincast