ANZ magazine Australian AG Contractor & Lg Scale Farmer feature or ProductionWise
[Australian AG Contractor & Large Scale Farmer magazine] More data means better decisions, better decisions means higher returns
Gut instinct can only take you so far! What you really need to make good decisions is quality information.
Fortunately for those who want to extract more relevant information to make their farming decisions more precise there is ProductionWise, a digital platform designed by and for Australian growers. From recording and presenting fundamental farm data to analysing various spatial data types, ProductionWise provides an accurate view of what is happening across the farm.
Originally developed by Grain Growers Limited, Australia’s peak independent grain farmers’ industry body, ProductionWise was initially developed to provide farmers an efficient and cost effective solution to digital agriculture. This has allowed farmers to enter operations and inputs across their farms and assess yields and production easily. At the end of the season, the system provides auto generated gross margins so farmers can gain a better understanding of their cost of production and total income for their farming enterprise.
Over the years, new features and functions have been developed to ProductionWise to allow farmers to expand with advancements in the industry. A key focus of ProductionWise is utilising paddock level management activities with integrated climatic data to generate site specific yield predictions to help farmers better understand key elements affecting crop development throughout the season.
With all of this paddock specific data readily accessible, farmers and their advisers can make better decisions on how to maximise returns from inputs or cut losses in the face of adverse seasonal conditions.
ProductionWise is versatile for farmers and advisers through the app to allow activities to be recorded in the field as they are happening. Having your farm data on hand and accessible is critical for making timely decisions and improves efficiencies overall. With ever increasing demand for traceability, the Productionwise system provides a paddock-to-sale solution allowing paddock and grain storage activities to be kept up to date, which helps meet the growing trend toward traceability.
In November 2018, ProductionWise was acquired by FluroSat from Grain Growers Limited. FluroSat is an Australian based start-up company that originated from an innovation course held at the University of Sydney.
FluroSat has two stated aims.
The first is to help farmers gather information and put it into compatible forms. FluroSat has several tools farmers can use to gather information, including ground sensors, satellites, planes and drones. This can give a picture of a crop’s health, ground conditions and impending weather. FluroSat’s second aim is to help farmers make decisions using historical records combined with current conditions.
FluroSat CEO Anastasia Volkova says her company can help farmers make better decisions faster. The ‘faster’ bit is important because farmers often have only a narrow window to make a decision.
For example, rain is on the way and you want to know whether it is a good idea to spread fertiliser. A cynic would say you don’t need a bunch of data to decide whether to do so.
“We can give you more details. You need to know the ability of the crop to handle the fertiliser so you do not over apply. We breach the gap between what farmers want to achieve and what they have now,” Anastasia says.
Another example she gives is crop damage. “If a crop is affected by frost or hail, FluroSat can see to what extent it is damaged. We can detect this very early, often the next day. This can help make smart economic decisions.
“Would you be better off with a lower return from that crop compared to grazing it off? Or is it better to turn it over and start again?”
Anastasia says FluroSat can also spot a weed infestation or pest damage and map the area.
“We can alert the farmer to the extent of the damage and watch the crop stress development for them automatically. In some cases it is manageable and in some we can tell when the yield damage will be significant.”
As FluroSat gathers more information it updates the models, so they become more sensitive and able to consider more variables and detect stress with higher precision.
“This also allows us to provide more detail. Rather than just provide information at field level, we now can provide it on a per hectare basis. This is what is needed for today’s precision farming operations such as variable rate seeding or spreading,” Anastasia says.
Flurosat is also working to extend forecasts and decision-making out from the current growing season to the next season. For example, it could help farmers and their advisers choose which variety will be best in a particular paddock given the long-range seasonal forecast.
Anastasia says ProductionWise can be scaled up or down.
“We can start with whatever data the farmer has. If they then collect more types of information later, we can deliver the level of analytics that they need.”
“We want to enable farming that is sustainable environmentally and financially,” Anastasia says.
The two often go together. For example, excess fertiliser is a waste of money and damages the environment.