KINGAROY farmers are at the front line of a precision agriculture program which could revolutionise the Australian farming industry.
Cutting-edge technology from mapping giant Esri Australia is at the heart of the program, which enables farmers to accurately forecast harvest yields and predict crop disease outbreaks.
By using Geographic Information System technology, farmers can access interactive maps that incorporate satellite imagery and other real-time data such as soil, irrigation, pest and nutrient conditions.
From this data, growers can analyse the health and maturity of their crops; develop and shift farming strategies; and submit detailed reports to industry stakeholders from anywhere on the farm.
Dr Andrew Robson - who developed the project in partnership with the Peanut Company of Australia - said GIS technology provides an excellent framework for storing, displaying and analysing yearly crop variations identified from satellite imagery.
"At this stage the most important use of the technology for peanut growers and industry stakeholders is yield prediction," Dr Robson said.
"We create GIS maps which display yield variability layers derived from satellite imagery using specific algorithms, along with additional spatial information that together have enabled accurate yield predictions at the regional, farm and crop level to be produced.
"Knowing halfway through a season what to expect at harvest time is a powerful advantage."
Queensland produces more than 95 per cent of Australia's peanut crop with the main growing areas in the Burnett region, Bundaberg, central Queensland and Atherton Tableland.
Esri Australia managing director Brett Bundock said similar GIS applications are currently being developed across a range of Australia's other major agricultural industries, including sugar cane, avocados and cotton.
"For example, avocado growers could map each tree to monitor quality and yield capability and from this generate data which would show disease ratings for trees across an entire plantation," Mr Bundock said.
"This is a technology which will make Australian farmers more competitive - I believe we've only just scratched the surface in its potential applications."