Yield forecasting app wins

27 Feb, 2013 09:36 AM
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Esperance farmer Michael Fels with GRDC chairman Keith Perrett. Mr Fels won the Grain Inventors award for his yield forecasting app.
Esperance farmer Michael Fels with GRDC chairman Keith Perrett. Mr Fels won the Grain Inventors award for his yield forecasting app.

AN innovative smart phone app that forecasts harvest yields has won the GRDC and Australian Year of the Farmer Grain Inventors nationwide search for the next big breakthrough in farming technology.

The app will be designed to give growers a reliable forecast of yield and will take less than an hour for each user to set up, with no need for field inspections or tests.

GRDC, in partnership with the Australian Year of the Farmer, began searching for Australia's most innovative home-grown invention for the grains sector in 2012 through the Grain Inventors competition.

The inventor of the iPaddock Yield app, Michael Fels, Esperance, will receive $15,000 worth of support from the GRDC to develop his concept.

"Having a reliable forecast of yield early in the season is the Holy Grail for grain farmers," Mr Fels said.

"We're really excited that we will be able to take the next step to achieving this by further developing iPaddock Yield.

"So far I've built the system on a PC, but we now intend to make it into an app for iPhones and iPads to make it easily accessible for growers.

"My primary motivation for developing the app is not to generate profits, but to make available to the wider industry a tool that can improve the viability of Australian farm businesses and make a profound difference to the way our major input decisions are made."

The iPaddock Yield concept has been tested on farms in low, medium and high rainfall zones, and has consistently made yield forecasts, as early as June, that have matched up with results at harvest.

Mr Fels and his wife Marnie have used their data modelling technique within their own business and have found one of the biggest advantages was the savings they could achieve by making more informed decisions about their input costs.

"We have saved literally hundreds of thousands of dollars over a number of below average seasons, purely through informed rational decisions that were made at a time when the crops were looking a million dollars," Mr Fels said.

"Conversely, in high yield seasons we have been able to maximise our profits through higher nitrogen rates and fungicides, in the knowledge that the potential return on inputs is very high."

GRDC chairman Keith Perrett was pleased to see the iPaddok Yield concept receive a boost from the Grain Inventors initiative.

"The iPaddock Yield app is a great idea, and I can't wait to see it take off and make it to the smart phones of growers across Australia," he said.

"Trying to balance seasonal pressures and get the best returns on your input spend is always trying for farmers, so I hope the tool will make decision-making easier for them.

"It's great to see such a modern solution to an age-old problem because it proves Australian growers are continuing their tradition of developing ingenious solutions on their farms."

An independent panel of experts selected iPaddock Yield from a field of high quality entries from farmers, researchers and machinists.

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READER COMMENTS

Fairsnotfair
28/02/2013 11:24:24 AM, on The Land

Really? Hundreds of thousands of dollars? That must make Mr Fels the welthiest farmer in Australia. No other farmer can save that much money by playing with a computer.
anothercropper
28/02/2013 9:14:03 PM, on Farm Weekly

Sounds exciting. Innovative farmers with historical paddock and rain records will have another valuable tool to assist decision making with this new ipaddock app. Congratulations.
BDC
1/03/2013 6:15:41 AM, on The Land

Sounds helpful - I wonder what it is based on though? Is this a simple calculator built in Excel based on French and Schultz?
Consolidated
1/03/2013 2:24:07 PM, on Farm Weekly

Nothing anyone with a bit of formula knowledge on excel probably isn't already doing. Its all about rainfall history and probabilities. Not rocket science. Love the free advertising.
confused
8/03/2013 11:50:21 AM, on Farm Weekly

still unsure how final yield prediction can help bottom line as all main inputs like nitrogen and base fert has all been applied before the main yield influencing spring rainfall has fallen,or not. Assisting with grain marketing or weather or not to buy a beach house could use the info and hopefully jack frost dosn't bring it all crashing down
Max Cropper
8/08/2013 11:30:21 AM, on Farm Weekly

Make more in the good years and spend less in the bad years? If this App that can help achieve that, it can't come soon enough.

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