DRONES, remote monitoring and advanced data analytics will provide scientists unprecedented accuracy in studying crops and farming systems able to cope with climate change, at the new Boorowa Agriculture Research Station, opened by Australia’s national science agency CSIRO this week.
The digitally-enabled farm in southwestern NSW is equipped with 100 temperature and humidity probes, 72 soil moisture probes, and six weather stations to monitor experiments in crop science, agronomy and farming systems across its 290 hectares.
The research station will be trialling new varieties of pastures, wheat, canola and legumes that can withstand warmer and drier conditions, such as those predicted for the future.
The facility took four years to design and build, and is an $11.5 million investment in the future of Australian farming.
Director of CSIRO Agriculture and Food Dr Michiel van Lookeren Campagne said it was more important than ever to advance innovative science to build resilient agriculture systems and increase food production.
“Our agriculture industries are facing major challenges, especially with the current drought,” Dr van Lookeren Campagne said.
The facility would also be used to continue to research the best farming practices to manage Australia’s fragile soils and get the most from every drop of water.
“The better we can understand how plants grow and produce in a real farming environment – not just the lab – the more we can help Australian agriculture meet its $100 billion target.”
The new research station replaces CSIRO’s Ginninderra Experimental Station, which was established outside Canberra in 1958.
Ginninderra was used to field-tested a range of high yielding and disease resistant plant varieties.
“With this new state-of-the-art facility at Boorowa, it’s exciting to imagine what we can achieve,” Dr van Lookeren Campagne said.
The research station was developed with support from the Science and Industry Endowment Fund and the Grains Research and Development Corporation.