Collaboration takes big data on farm – NSW DPI

Published: July 24th, 2017

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) in Orange today displayed an innovative collaboration taking big data onto the farm to deliver powerful monitoring and information systems, which will allow farmers to save time and manage their businesses with less risk and potentially greater profit.

NSW DPI researcher, Anthony Clark, said the Farm Decision Technologies (FDT) project is a partnership between the department and Bralca Pty Ltd, a commercial farming operation based at Molong.

“A key focus has been on getting the right technology and support in place so farmers get the most out of rapid growth and advances in information and networking technology,” Dr Clark said.

“By bringing farmers directly into the innovation process NSW DPI has addressed a critical need to develop practical on-farm technologies which can unlock proven efficiency gains in livestock systems.

“NSW DPI has risen to the challenge by bringing commercial and science sectors closer together as part of the Innovation Central Sydney (ICS) hub – a partnership with the University of New South Wales, CSIRO’s Data61, NSW Farmers and CISCO.”

The on-farm monitoring and information network today on show at the Orange Agricultural Institute was proto-typed in Sydney by the ICS Australian Technology Park laboratory and now a farm-scale version is operating at Bralca’s Waidup Homestead.

FDT has developed innovative drone-mounted and in-field pasture monitoring sensors, integrated with proven sensing technologies – climate stations, soil moisture probes, pasture monitoring cameras and livestock RFID walk-over-weighing, as part of the farm network.

Working closely with CISCO, low-power, wide area networking (LoRa) technology has been used to connect sensors in paddocks to the internet , even when broadband or mobile phone coverage is poor, to successfully deliver two-way communication across large distances.

Emerging animal monitoring technologies will be added to the LoRa network, including geo-Location, which automates stock monitoring and asset tracking.

A roll-out of the technology across major NSW DPI research stations is planned this year as the department expands its partnership with CISCO to include the National Narrowband Network Co and DiscoveryAg, through their Connected Countryinitiative.