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World-first Crop Production Forecasting Technology for Queensland

26 November 2012

AUSTRALIA - A new way of capturing crop area information will change the way industry forecasts cropping production across Queensland, and other States.

For the first time worldwide, this new technology, known as Paddock Watch, allows producers to directly input crop locations on their properties each season, to be used inside an automated prediction framework.

Computer simulation and satellite imagery is then used to map crop production estimates at a regional scale across the State.

Senior scientist with the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF), Al Doherty, said crop information had become a key factor of decision-making processes in many Australian agricultural businesses and government agencies during the past decade.

"The new system allows us to forecast where and how much sorghum, wheat and other crops are likely to be produced from soon after planting, with forecasts becoming more accurate as the season progresses." Mr Doherty said.

"Producers have a major role to play in providing their own crop information to a system like this.

"Paddock Watch creates a level of objectivity and transparency of crop information we have never seen before, especially in a progressively deregulated and competitive Australian cropping market.

"With the impacts of climate variability, advanced knowledge of the likely crop size and geographical distribution within a specific season, can assist industry to make strategic decisions such as forward buying or selling of grain well ahead of harvest.

"Producers and agronomists will also be able to track crop activity on their farms and will eventually be able to analyse the specific breakdown of crops planted on their farm and region over time.

"This will give agronomists and extension officers a valuable insight in the cropping trends in their regions and help them develop strategies to best support Queensland farmers."

The project is a joint initiative between DAFF and Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI).

QAAFI Research Fellow, Dr Andries Potgieter, said industry had become increasingly competitive, and accurate and transparent crop production information was therefore imperative.

He said it was important for producers to become involved with the programme to be part of generating neutrality in cropping information.

"We will use the data to generate monthly crop reports, risk analyses, and crop forecasts to support industry decisions," Dr Potgieter said. "All registered users will receive this monthly crop outlook update via email.

"We are urging producers to start mapping their own current winter crop activity as well as the coming summer cropping season for their farm. This can be done online."

Dr Potgieter said incentives for producers to register were being offered by QAAFI.

He said the names of the first 100 people registering at least five crop paddocks for the current winter crop season (end of November cut-off date) and/or five for the current summer (end of February 2013) cropping season, would go into a draw to win a new iPad2, donated by QAAFI.

"Simply register with your own email address and password on the website and you will be in the running," Dr Potgieter said. "The winner will be drawn at the end of the summer cropping season (early March 2013) and winners will be informed via email."

For more information call DAFF on 13 25 23.

TheCropSite News Desk

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