Turning soil science into soil management

 

Australian agricultural scientists are among the best in the world, but their discoveries don’t always end up being applied. Producers and land managers miss out on greater productivity because this ‘stranded science’ doesn’t have pathways for translation into practice.

In June 2018 Andrea Koch Agtech was awarded a $1.1million grant from the Australian Government’s Smart Farming Partnerships grant program, to form a partnership with AGRIVision Consultants, Farmlab and the University of Sydney. The grant will fund the three-year Soil Tech Project to translate existing soil science into a suite of six innovative digital soil management tools for land managers, using user centred agile development.  

 Smart phones and tablets hit the market over ten years ago and today most farmers use these devices when managing their production system. The applications that they use are often developed using rapid and agile development techniques. Technology developers are now focussing on using these techniques to create digital solutions for agriculture, giving rise to the rapidly growing agtech sector.

 The Soil Tech Project brings the disciplines of science and agronomy together with the world of agtech. Agtech developers from Farmlab will collaborate with senior soil scientists from the University of Sydney and agronomists from AGRIVision Consultants to build new digital tools that can be used by land managers to better understand and manage their soil. The project will be led by Andrea Koch, who will also use action research to document the whole process so that others can learn how the collaboration works and replicate it. The aim is to build new pathways for stranded science to be translated into action through agtech development.

 The new soil management tools will be offered free of charge on the Farmlab platform to anyone who wishes to use them. In addition, the open access code for the tools will be available on Github so that other service providers can build them into their offerings.

We invite everyone who is interested to follow us on the journey. We are now seeking registrations of interest for land managers to join our team of ‘Ground Truthers’ who will get early access to the tools as they roll through development, to try them out and give us invaluable feedback.

 
 

The Soil Tech Project is funded by the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, via the Smart Farms Program under the National Landcare Program.