CSIRO creates farm damage app
CSIRO has created a new way for farmers to assess their impacts on water quality.
A free app, named 1622WQ, shows the concentration of nitrogen in local waterways in real time.
The app is designed to give farmers easy access to water quality information, so they can relate their management practices to water quality in local waterways.
When rainfall washes nitrogen fertiliser into waterways, it both wastes farmers' money and becomes a major threat to the health of Great Barrier Reef ecosystems.
CSIRO agricultural scientist and 1622WQ project leader Dr Peter Thorburn said the new app was co-designed with farmers to meet their needs.
“Sugarcane growers told us they wanted quick and easy access to water quality information, so they could find out what's going on with their crops and make better decisions,” Dr Thorburn said.
“Although an app can appear simple, the smarts behind it are anything but. The chain of information between the water quality sensors in local waterways and what you see on your phone is complex and requires substantial innovation along the way.”
The app shows data on nitrate concentrations from high frequency automatic sensors deployed in selected coastal catchments.
It uses CSIRO's advanced data analytics and state-of-the-art deep learning not available in other data delivery systems.
It also shows rainfall so farmers easily see how the weather is affecting local water quality.
The name 1622 comes from the height of Queensland’s tallest mountain, which is in the area where the initial app development work took place. WQ is for water quality.
CSIRO expects say they are not done yet, with new ways to predict water quality in the days or weeks ahead based on artificial intelligence in the pipeline.
CSIRO is also building other aspects of importance to sugarcane growers into a suite of 1622 apps, such as fine-tuning which parts of a crop might need more or less fertiliser, and comparing different fertiliser application rates on crop performance and environmental impact before they even plant.