Geospatial imagery to support CSIRO Digital Agricultural Services

Geospatial imagery to support CSIRO Digital Agricultural Services

Stephen Kuper

The national science agency, CSIRO, and rural technology start-up, Digital Agriculture Services (DAS), have launched an innovative platform that combines artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud-based geospatial technology to deliver reliable and robust farm data and analytics.

The Rural Intelligence Platform is the first ever software to comprehensively assess and monitor rural land anywhere in Australia, drawing on information from trusted data sources on productivity, water access, yield, land use, crop type, rainfall, drought impact and more.

CSIRO agriculture and food deputy director Dr Michael Robertson said, "The platform brings together in one place and refines a range of technologies developed by CSIRO in order to provide a picture of what has happened on a property over the years, as well as the current situation."

The platform uses satellite imagery to track paddocks and their performance over time. Information from Australia's digital soil map is incorporated and climate information interpreted to show drought, frost, heat stress for livestock and other risks.

"The Rural Intelligence Platform will help the agribusiness community calculate the risks associated with certain investments or management decisions," Dr Robertson said.

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DAS estimates that annually around $125 billion in agricultural economic decisions in Australia are based on unreliable or incomplete data. The Rural Intelligence Platform analyses data from a range of sources using machine learning algorithms to make sense of the data with a clarity that wasn't possible before.

"The platform provides accurate information that can help to identify vulnerability or the most promising options for investment that will build resilience," Dr Robertson said.

The platform incorporates an AI-initiated automated valuation model that is capable of valuing rural properties instantly with up to 90 per cent accuracy. Previously, this was only possible for residential properties, where there are a wide range of valuation and analytic tools for real estate.

Since it was established in partnership with CSIRO in 2017, Melbourne-based DAS has secured a total of $4.25 million in funding from founding equity and R&D partner CSIRO, Australian ASX-listed agribusiness Ruralco and private investors.

DAS CEO Anthony Willmott said, "Digital agriculture is far more than just on-farm technology, it's also about improving off-farm decision making and this platform lays the foundation for Australia to become a leader in new generation agricultural analytics."

The market for digital agriculture in the Asia-Pacific region is estimated to be worth $10-25 billion by 2028, fueled by pressure to meet challenges from population growth and climate change.

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