Australia celebrated National Agriculture Day on November 20.

Researchers at the University of Southern Queensland‘s Centre for Sustainable Agriculture Systems are doing their bit to make a life for those on the land a little less stressful and a lot more profitable. Associate Professor Keith Pembleton leads USQ’s Agricultural Systems and Catchment modeling team, where the core focus is firmly on the power of data and using it to its full potential.

 “Data has always been a fundamental requirement of successful farming because, as the saying goes: if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” Associate Professor Pembleton said.  “There are very few farming products or machines on the market now, whether that’s your tractor, harvester or your spray rig, that don’t have a sensor or GPS tracking attached to it, and while this is a great step forward for agriculture, it often leads to information overload and decision paralysis can set in.

“Our modelling team is constantly working to reduce that information overload by taking the data available, analysing it and identify how it can best be utilised by farmers and decision makers to save time, save money and ultimately be more productive.”

 One of the suites of tools the Agricultural Systems and Catchment modelling team has developed in collaboration with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries is called ARMOnline, a pre-planting decision tool for grain growers.

 “Growers can feed information in about their fields, how much moisture is present, how much nutrients are present and even their own management plan. Then the ARMOnline platform offers advice based on that data around what to plant, when to plant it and in-field suggestions around fertilisation and other crop requirements,” Associate Professor Pembleton said.

 “The tool is really powerful as it allows growers to quickly and simply make sound decisions for the coming season and ensure they’re giving themselves the best opportunity to grow the best crop. The power of ARMOnline is now coming in to its own not just for farmers, but we’re seeing that USQ’s Agricultural Science students who have been exposed to the platform, are hitting the ground running in agronomy and other agricultural sector roles when they graduate.”

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