If a farmer could see into the future and know what climate is ahead, they may be able to better plan their crops or livestock production.
A photo of a tractor moving through an Australian farm
Imace credit: Envato Elements

Farmers rely on both rain and sunshine for producing quality crops and livestock. The lack of rain during a drought has well-known and devastating impacts on farmers. Drought can disrupt agricultural production and result in lost income. 

Further to this, predictions tell us Australia will face more frequent and severe droughts. And so, to better prepare farmers for future droughts, they need new solutions.

So, a online platform could offer a window into future climate for farmers and the agriculture sector. Climate Services for Agriculture (CSA) is the platform. And the prototype is available now for anyone to use.

Turning climate data into useful insights

Farmers could use the CSA platform to see how a changing climate could impact their farm. We’re using innovative technology to build CSA. We’re developing it in partnership with the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM), FarmLink Research and the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.  

When complete, CSA will contain millions of data points for one location, providing a range of insights for farmers. This includes climate projections for the next 50 years.

It draws on data from us and BoM, as well as relevant and complementary insights from other data sources. We’ve applied advanced analytics to do some serious number-crunching on the data to make it locally relevant and useful.

To provide insights on the risks of producing a particular crop or livestock for a specific location, CSA will use historical weather data. It may cover risks such as changes to groundcover, erosion or vegetation, for example.

The platform currently covers insights for eight commodities, including wheat, barley, canola, lupins, apples, almonds, beef and sheep. It will grow to ultimately cover about 22 commodities or around 90 per cent of Australian producers, by mid-2023.

Importantly, we will be making CSA easier to use over the next year and a half based on feedback from users in eight pilot regions and beyond. To make CSA applicable across the nation, we will use the knowledge gained from this critical feedback.

A screenshot of different climate data used by farmers.
CSA provides climate insights for the next 50 years.

A new suite of tools for drought resilience

The underlying technology platform used to develop CSA is called INDRA and could be used in the future by other industry sectors impacted by climate change. These impacts include floods, bushfires, extreme heat, drought and frost, affecting industries such as banks, asset management, insurance, retail, mining and energy.  

To help farmers better prepare for drought and changing climate, CSA forms part of a new suite of tools. Climate data from CSA is provided to another free tool, the Drought Resilience Self-Assessment Tool (DR.SAT). It leverages this data to provide customised insights and options to support greater resilience.

A screenshot of software showing climate data for specific farm areas.
An online platform for farmers provides climate insights based on their location.

Reducing the impacts of Australian droughts

CSA is contributing to our shared goal to reduce the impacts of drought in Australia. Government, industry, communities and the research sector are working together with us as part of our Drought Resilience Mission to achieve this goal. Co-developing innovative and practical solutions like CSA is the focus of our Mission which aims to prepare Australia for future droughts.

1 comments

  1. I applaud the initiative but worry that as we move into more a extreme climate it will become ever harder to predict local conditions with any degree of accuracy. Historical data can support forecasts with uncertainty boundaries in a linear system, but – as the East Coast floods are so graphically demonstrating – when a system goes non-linear it’s much harder to make forecasts with confidence. I know weather and climate are not the same thing, but suspect that there are just going to be too many unknown moving parts to make useful local predictions beyond the kinds of very broad brush outlook that we already have. Love to be wrong so please keep posting as CSA evolves.

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