Risk management with FARMSCAPE

The FARMSCAPE Training and Accreditation program can help farmers, advisers and researchers better manage crop and croplands in sub-tropical eastern Australia, says CSIRO Tropical Agriculture FARMSCAPE project leader Zvi Hochman.

Dr Hochman said the FARMSCAPE approach offers farmers the ability to make improved crop-management decisions by generating simulations and scenarios that estimate crop yields based on the farmers' own paddock conditions. It reduces much of the risk farmers take in making costly crop decisions given the unpredictable nature of seasonal climatic conditions and varying water and nutrient levels in their soil.

The monitoring and modelling tools were developed by APSRU (Agricultural Production Systems Research Unit), a joint research unit of Queensland Departments of Primary Industries (DPI) and Natural Resources (DNR) and CSIRO Tropical Agriculture. The work is supported by growers and the Federal Government through the GRDC. The computer simulations generated via the FARMSCAPE approach are tailored to suit the exact conditions of the paddock being analysed.

FARMSCAPE combines the tools and techniques for monitoring soils, crops and weather with simulation-aided discussion and allows farmers to trial alternative cropping strategies, all without planting a single seed.

A simulation is taken more seriously by a farmer when it represents his farm, his paddock, his management practices. Measured soil water and nitrogen are central to this customising.

Soil coring at depths beyond normal sampling often shows nitrogen bulges and results in substantial savings in fertiliser, says Dr Hochman.

Agribusiness consultants servicing the northern grains industry in Queensland and New South Wales will undergo a two-year training program to become accredited in delivering the system.

The consultants selected for the initial training include IAMA, Michael Castor and Associates, Hassall and Associates, and Ward Agriculture.

As the consultants become accredited, their companies will be licensed to use the software, and other tools developed by APSRU, commercially in farm consulting.

Program 3.5.1

Contact: Dr Zvi Hochman 0419 799 527;

Mr Wayne Newton — a participating farmer from the Darling Downs who has trialed and experienced the benefits of the FARMSCAPE approach — mobile 015 133 684.

Region North