Australian farmers working with new EO services

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Australian farmers working with new EO services

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Australian farmers are working with new Earth Observation (EO) services. And, we are excited to be working with them. The COALA team is halfway through a three-year project looking at introducing new services to support more sustainable water and nutrients in Australia. We have developed relationships with several innovative Australian farmers to help with product testing and evaluation. For BCG, Cam, Tim and Rod taking part in the COALA project was an opportunity too good to pass up. These growers get first access to new EO services from the Sentinel-2 satellites. They are hoping to improve their application of nutrients on-farm and their monitoring of crop development, nutrient and water status. Now we invite you to meet the farmers.

So who are Tim, Cam and Rod?


Cam is a farmer from Rupanyup in the Wimmera region of Victoria, Australia. The family farm is 100% rainfed winter cropping. They dedicate ~50% of the area sown to cereal crops each year and the remainder of a mix of canola and pulse crops. Cam views his nutrient management strategy as the key to ‘maximising crop yield potential’. He is very keen to see how some of the COALA services, such as the management zone maps and nitrogen nutrition index maps, could further assist him with his variable-rate fertiliser application. Cam already utilises a lot of the data collected on-farm plus NDVI to aid in zoning paddocks. Although he says this process can be quite time-consuming, he is looking forward to the potential time-saving advantages. He is also excited about potentially better defining his paddock zones and receiving prescription maps for in-season nitrogen applications.  

Cam Taylor spreading fertiliser


Tim farms just north of Birchip in the Southern Mallee region of Victoria, Australia. His family farm is a mix of livestock and rainfed winter crops and covers 6,500ha in total. 75% of this land is cropped (cereals, canola, pulses, hay), and 25% is sown to pasture to help support 3,500 breeding ewes for prime lambs and wool. Tim has utilised NDVI imagery during seasons with false breaks to identify his different management zones in paddocks. However, there are still a few paddocks where he feels the zones could be further improved. Tim is also an active user of Yield Prophet® and is excited to see how he can integrate some of the EO services, particularly around the COALA yield prediction product.

Tim McClelland in a flowering canola crop


Rodney is a fourth-generation farmer near Nhill in the West Wimmera region of Victoria, Australia. He also grows a mix of winter crops, including cereals, canola and pulse crops under rainfed conditions. Rodney has been using NDVI imagery for several years now. NDVI images help with the generation of paddock zones in combination with yield maps and visual observations. Rodney is interested in seeing how COALA’s method for generating in-paddock zones will match his current zones. As well as the opportunities it may provide for further improving his nutrient management.

Rodney Pohlner applying fungicide this his crop.

The 2021 plan

We had a series of online meetings with the three farmers to understand better their challenges with nutrient management and how the COALA project may assist. Now the project team is busily gathering fertiliser information from the farmers to generate management zone maps and supply prescription fertiliser maps (see below). This season we will experiment with Up to 20 paddocks that the three farmers have nominated. Later in the year, we will generate nitrogen index maps and yield potential maps. These maps assist with in-season decisions around applying nitrogen and validated through on-ground assessments. 

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