— Satellite crop monitoring
The faces of remote sensing innovation
FROM THE FRONT LINE
GROWERS CAN OPEN A COMPUTER OR SMARTPHONE FROM ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD AND MONITOR CROPS.
and projected yield. The implications of this research are relevant to all agricultural commodities, both in Australia and abroad.
Before joining the UNE PARG group three years ago, Robson started his agricultural career picking oranges in the Riverina, before being employed by the Queensland and New South Wales departments of primary industry for nearly 20 years. The majority of his research has focused on the development of remote sensing applications specific to agriculture.
Rahman joined the group in 2015 after completing a doctorate in precision agriculture at UNE. Before settling in NSW, he had completed a Masters degrees in farm power and machinery in Bangladesh and agricultural and
Remote sensing is a key technology for PARG and ARST. It allows growers to assess crop performance without physically making contact with it. Essentially, it means growers can open a computer or smartphone from anywhere in the world and monitor crops, assess pests and diseases, nutrient levels
PARG, established in 2002, offers cutting-edge research and learning that supports the development and implementation of modern technologies such as satellite and ground-based remote sensing, geographic information systems, sensor networks and livestock tracking. Its mandate is to evaluate technologies and practices that benefit the agriculture sector and to work with industry partners to see them implemented appropriately. Andrew Robson, Muhammad Moshiur Rahman and Jasmine Muir. Remember these names, because they belong to three very talented scientists who form the core of the Agricultural Remote Sensing Team (ARST) within the University of New England’s Precision Agricultural Research Group (PARG).
The trio, with support from other PARG members David Lamb, Derek Schneider and Ashley Saint, have established themselves as the leading agricultural remote sensing group in Australia. The team currently leads or collaborates in remote sensing projects that span nine Australian agricultural industries (sugar, rice, avocado, mango, macadamia, banana, peanut, pineapple and multiple vegetable crops). A unique combination of research expertise and strong industry engagement puts a university research team at the global cutting edge of agricultural innovation. ANGUS BEZZINA reports.
bio-resource engineering in the Netherlands. His expertise in plant growth modelling using remote sensing technologies is an extremely beneficial skill-set for the team.
Muir brings to the ARST 15 years’ experience in the spatial industry, predominantly through her employment with Queensland’s Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation, as well as private industry. Her expertise in remote sensing, including radar and LIDAR analysis, computer programing and ecological field sampling are of great value to the team.
“Having the ability to engage and listen to industry, to identify what are the relevant issues to production and farming efficiencies and then to ultimately work with them to evaluate and adopt new technologies is a what separates the PARG team from other agencies,” Robson says.
The team’s project portfolio has increased significantly in the last 18 months. Highlights include a $7.2 million national Horticulture Tree crop project, jointly funded by the federal government’s Rural Research and Development for Profit scheme and Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIAL) and a $1.3 million sugarcane project funded by Sugar Research Australia.
Although led by the UNE, the national tree project includes collaborators such as the University of Queensland, University of Sydney, Central Queensland University, QDAF, DSITI, Agtrix and Simpson Farms.
The national sugar project aims to automate the processing and delivery of crop vigour, derived yield and foliar nitrogen maps to more than 80,000 individual sugar crops annually as well as provide training to growers on better nitrogen management.
The project is a direct collaboration between UNE and the agricultural company Farmacist.
To complement these projects, ARST is just about to kick off another major national project, funded by HIAL and led by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. The project worth $4.7 million aims to increase the vegetable industry’s adoption of precision agricultural technologies.
Muhammad Moshiur Rahman, Jasmine Muir and Andrew Robson prepare a sensing drone.