AUSTRALIA’S national science agency, CSIRO, has released a smart-phone app designed to forecast grain yield over a single paddock or an entire farm.
Known as Graincast, it allows growers to estimate yields ranging from a single paddock, right up to their entire farm, and draws on information from satellites, climate forecasts and sensors to estimate historical crop yields, yield potential and crop species.
“Having a yield forecast can help farmers with crop input management, setting yield targets, diagnosing yield constraints, risk management, marketing decisions, forward selling and more,” CSIRO scientist Dr Roger Lawes said.
“The app is easy to use, and growers need to input just three pieces of information: the paddock they want analysed; the crop grown last season, and the crop they plan to grow or are growing in the current season. That’s it.”
Graincast is being marketed as the only app which gives instantaneous soil, water and yield information at any time without the need for substantial user input, and allows growers to make better-informed crop and paddock management decisions in near real-time.
The app was developed by CSIRO scientists in response to feedback from grain growers about what they needed, and what they liked about their job.
“They told us that they wanted something that was mobile, quick and easy to use. They didn’t want to be told what to do, they just wanted the key information so they could decide what was best for them.”
“The Graincast app helps growers with their crop decision-making instincts.”
Crop models are combined with soil maps to create yield forecasts for the Australian continent.
This information comes from the Soil and Landscape Grid of Australia, the agricultural production systems simulator crop model APSIM, MODIS and LANDSAT satellites, and other sources.
The data is brought together in CSIRO’s newly constructed data platform, and output to a smart phone for agricultural businesses to quickly acquire information about production without the hassle of identifying soil types, calibrating models, searching for satellite information or trying to interpret complex data.
Protecting privacy of businesses and the opportunity for users to withdraw at any time was an important feature when designing the app.
In an Australian first, the smarts behind the app enable various other industry players such as advisers, bulk handlers, marketers, commodity forecasters and insurers to forecast grain production at the regional and national scales.
Graincast is part of CSIRO’s Digiscape Future Science Platform.