Platform first of its kind

By Country News

A new platform is combining artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud-based geospatial technology in a bid to future-proof farms.

An initiative of the CSIRO and rural technology start-up Digital Agriculture Services, the Rural Intelligence Platform is the first of its kind and aims to deliver reliable, independent and robust farm data and analytics.

Drawing on information from trusted data sources on productivity, water access, yield, land use, crop type, rainfall and drought impact, the platform uses satellite imagery to track paddocks and their performance over time.

‘‘The platform brings together in one place and refines a range of technologies developed by CSIRO in order to provide a picture of what has happened on a property over the years as well as the current situation,’’ CSIRO agriculture and food deputy director Michael Robertson said.

Information from Australia’s digital soil map is incorporated and climate information interpreted to show drought, frost, heat stress for livestock and other risks.

‘‘The Rural Intelligence Platform will help the agribusiness community calculate the risks associated with certain investments or management decisions,’’ Dr Robertson said.

DAS estimates that annually about $125 billion in agricultural economic decisions in Australia are based on unreliable or incomplete data.

‘‘The platform provides accurate information that can help to identify vulnerability or the most promising options for investment that will build resilience,’’ Dr Robertson said.

‘‘This is a whole new model for rural analytics, which will make it easier to quantify risk and prepare for challenges like climate volatility and change.’’

The Rural Intelligence Platform analyses data from a range of sources using machine-learning algorithms to make sense of the data with a clarity that was not possible before.

The platform incorporates an Automated Valuation Model that is capable of valuing rural properties instantly with up to 90 per cent accuracy.

Previously this was only possible for residential properties, for which there are a wide range of valuation and analytic tools.

‘‘Digital agriculture is far more than just on-farm technology, it’s also about improving off-farm decision making and this platform lays the foundation for Australia to become a leader in new generation agricultural analytics,’’ DAS chief executive officer Anthony Willmott said.

‘‘This is about supporting the ecosystem that supports the farmer — ensuring that farmers, business, policy makers and anyone invested along the agricultural ecosystem has the right rural data to make more informed decisions.’’

The market for digital agriculture in the Asia Pacific region is estimated to be worth up to $25billion by 2028, fuelled by pressure to meet challenges from population growth and climate change.