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5 APRIL 2017: Australia’s croppers are harvesting more than grain. The data that is being harvested in rapidly increasing quantities will be a topic of discussion at the national Farming Together forum in June.

Richard Heath, general manager research of the Australian Farm Institute, is participating in a Federal Government-funded project investigating solutions for big data in agriculture and will be a speaker at the forum held at the Adelaide Convention Centre on Tuesday, June 6.

The Farming Together project has been helping farmers across the country form into groups to gain marketplace strength. Some are seeking ways to share their digital farming information for productivity and profitability gains.

Farming Together project director Lorraine Gordon said: “Monitors and sensors in farm machinery automatically record information and dispatch it via wireless technology to a cloud platform. Our farmer-partners are looking for clever ways to collaborate and share the unprecedented volumes and velocity of this big data.”

Mr Heath, who served for six years on the GRDC northern panel, said: “Big data has the potential to impact all agriculture. In the US farmers are combining their digital data to calculate information about things like highest yield for variety for specific soil types and yield by fertiliser regimes. The data will help improve traceability and supporting on-farm decision making. It will become a critical part of agriculture’s future.”

A former Nuffield scholar, and now a director of the Nuffield Australia, Mr Heath was Associate Professor of Agronomy and Farm Management at the University of Sydney where he managed the universities’ north-west farms group.

He has 20 years’ experience managing the cropping enterprise of a large family farming enterprise on the Liverpool Plains, he also owned a consultancy advising on the application of new technology in Australian agriculture.

Farmers from across Australia are expected to attend the Farming Together forum. 

They will be hearing from farmers who have used the program to form or expand co-operatives and collaborations as well as experts, such as Alan, offering practical ‘how-to’ advice.

Free farmer registrations for the Adelaide conference are now open at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2017adelaideforum