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Precision to decision: Minister announces Government funds for data R&D (1 July 2016)

A unique project to capitalise on the big data opportunities for Australian agriculture and to transition a range of agricultural industries from precision to decision agriculture has been announced by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, the Hon. Barnaby Joyce.

This is one of nine successful projects announced by the Minister under round two of the Rural R&D for Profit programme on Friday 1 July.

The project, Accelerating precision agriculture to decision agriculture, is a partnership between 13 of Australia’s 15 rural research and development corporations (RDCs), led by CRDC and including MLA, Dairy Australia, GRDC, SRA, RIRDC, AWI, HIA, APL, Wine Australia, FWPA, AMPC and FRDC, plus other research partners.

The collaborative project will design a solution for the use of big data in agriculture – increasing the profitability of producers, providing clarity about data ownership and access rights, and improving farming strategies. The project will also increase the adoption of new technologies by farmers and professionals to improve farm profits.

CRDC Executive Director Bruce Finney welcomed the announcement, which will see up to $1.4 million directed from the Rural R&D for Profit programme to this project. 

“The application of digital technologies is one of the greatest opportunities for transformational change within Australian agriculture, both in terms of productivity growth and farm profitability,” said Bruce.

“A lack of producer control and the under-utilisation of more accurate information to make decisions puts Australian agriculture at a global disadvantage. In the USA, the corn industry has already shown that the use of big data to make more effective decisions on-farm has delivered a five to fifteen percent productivity gain.         

“The world is currently experiencing rapid technological and scientific development – and this also applies to the agricultural sector. Sensors, robotics, digitisation, big data and genetic engineering herald the transition of precision agriculture to decision agriculture by using data to inform decisions.

“The opportunity across all agricultural industries cannot be overstated, and we cannot afford to be left behind. So, in this innovative project, we’re collaborating to find practical solutions to the issues raised by the concept of big data,” Bruce said. 

The Accelerating precision agriculture to decision agriculture project will run until May 2018.