New Digital Frontiers for Cotton in Australia
June 27, 2016

Australia’s cotton production system has changed significantly over the last two decades, with new digital technologies such as robotics, sensors, autonomous equipment and big data set to provide even more precision on the farm.

Driverless tractors, precision weed sprayers and drone technogies to collect in-field, real time data will take precision agriculture to another level, with scientists in Australia envisaging that management of individual plants may be the way of the future.

With the rise of internet and satellite communication, the fall in the cost of sensor technology and data storage and increasing computer processing speed, agriculture is rapidly developing into a data- intensive business where an ever increasing amount and type of information is collected and evaluated.

The aim of data analytics is to increase productivity and efficiency on-farm and along the supply chain; and to better communicate with consumers. Australia’s Cotton growers now monitor crops using sensors and other technologies, with data collected from weather stations, soil moisture probes, canopy temperature sensors, satellite imagery, drones and yield monitors.

Smart sensors are able to transfer information between the sensor and the farm. Third parties, including researchers and crop consultants for example, also collect data from crop checking, nutrient and disease sampling, irrigation measurement, pesticide use, EM surveys and so on.

For the Australian cotton industry’s research body, the Cotton Research and Development Corporation, the challenge is to look into the future and support projects which put our growers at the leading edge in terms of using big data to enhance their operations.

(article courtesy of CRDC, Spotlight Magazine, Winter 2016)

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