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Assessing the economic value of precision agricultural tools for grain farming businesses in the Southern Region
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The Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) is a statutory corporation established under the Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989. It is subject to accountability and reporting obligations set out in the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. It is responsible for planning, investing in and overseeing research and development, and delivering improvements in production, sustainability and profitability across the Australian grains industry.
Precision Agriculture (PA) has considerable potential to increase the efficiency and profitability of grain production systems in the Southern Region, in particular to better target crop inputs to productive capacity and likely return on investment. The Society of Precision Agriculture Australia (SPAA) has been instrumental in promoting the development and adoption of PA technologies to Australian grain growers. The GRDC supported SPAA publication, PA in Practice II: Using precision agriculture technologies — a guide to getting the best results (2012), provides selected case studies, supporting trial results, technical articles and a list of available resources that demonstrate how PA is helping growers to maximise returns while controlling input costs.
Despite generally high awareness of the potential benefits of PA technologies in cropping systems, adoption by growers in the Southern Region is generally low. A range of issues are believed to contribute to the relatively low adoption rates of PA including -
- lack of clarity and local evidence regarding the financial benefits of available PA technologies;
- the perception that PA increases the complexity of management, a deterrent for growers who prefer simple and streamlined operations;
- a significant investment in time by growers and advisors is required to effectively utilise PA tools;
- a limited number and geographical coverage of advisors with the skills, experience and confidence in PA exists.
Typically, PA approaches involve considerable complexity and require interpretation of multiple and large spatial data sets including yield maps, NDVI measurements and different types of soil measurement and mapping (e.g. chemical analysis and EM38). Data platforms are frequently not compatible, which is a major issue for the integration, management, interpretation and use of information collected.
Fortunately, many of the above challenges are being met by a range of experienced advisors and private organisations. For example, numerous specialist service providers have the capability and tools required to develop prescription maps for variable rate application of crop inputs and support the application and applied use of those maps on-farm. Also, a number of organisations now provide direct up-load of yield data from the harvester to the cloud, integration of data from a range of platforms and utilisation of NDVI data generated from satellite imagery or drones to produce production zone maps. With these barriers largely overcome, assisting growers to make economically informed decisions on the adoption and use of PA will be important.
The GRDC project “The Integration of Technical Data and Profit Drivers for More Informed Decisions” examined the financial benefit associated with 20 case studies in PA adoption across Australia. Financial benefits varied considerably with the type of PA technology adopted, and the soil types and landscapes in which the technologies were employed. Hence, a “one size fits all” approach to the adoption of PA is not generally appropriate.
Given the net impact on profitability is highly variable based on individual circumstance, it is essential that the application and adoption of a PA technology is carefully considered prior to any investment. It is suggested that building knowledge, skills and capacity would assist growers to objectively assess the operational, farming system and economic impact of the adoption of specific PA technologies to individual farm businesses. Access to robust and practical guidelines and decision support tools to assess the impact of PA technologies on the profitability of individual farm businesses is needed.
The GRDC seeks to provide growers and advisers in the southern region with enhanced capacity and skills to assess the economic impact of the adoption of various precision agriculture (PA) technologies in order to make informed business decisions. This will be achieved by identifying key technologies and situations where PA has been proven to consistently improve the profitability of cropping systems; developing a simple decision matrix and related tools to support PA decision making; producing relevant high impact communications and extension activities to promote awareness and build the skills, knowledge and confidence to motivate growers and advisers to realise the profitability opportunities presented by the broader adoption of PA in the GRDC Southern region.
By December 2019, growers and advisers will have enhanced knowledge, capacity, skills and confidence to make informed and objective economic decisions relating to the adoption of PA technologies aimed to increase the profitability of grain growers in the GRDC Southern Region.
A budget of up to $250,000 is indicated for this investment dependent upon the quality of the application, expected outcomes and the ability to leverage GRDC funds through additional in-kind and cash co-contribution. The GRDC is focused on delivering value to Australian grain growers; therefore, your application must demonstrate fair market value.
Applying for GRDC investments is now done using the GRDC Grains Investment Portal. Once registered, users can visit the Portal anytime.
To register as a user, please visit https://access.grdc.com.au/
- Click on the register button at the top right side
- Complete the Registration Form. Fill in all the fields: your email address, a password and the captcha. Your password must be alphanumeric with at least one special character (i.e. not a letter or number. Click register to continue the process.
- Registration is confirmed by the system sending an email to you, with details to complete the registration process.
- Once the registration process is complete, you can sign in and review all investments open for tender.
Once you have located this investment, you can commence the application process by completing the details for each field available, until you reach “Submit Application” on the last page.
If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact Denni Greenslade – Business Support Team Leader via email email@example.com or use the online support function available.
1. The Applicant must be a single legal entity or recognised firm of partners.
2. The Applicant must be financially viable. For the purposes of this condition, “financially viable” means that the Tenderer has not had any of the following events occur in respect of it:
a. a meeting of creditors being called or held within the past five years;
b. the appointment of a liquidator, provisional liquidator or administrator within the past five years;
c. the appointment of a controller (as defined in section 9 of the Corporations Act (2001)), or analogous person appointed, including in respect of any of its property within the past five years;
d. a failure to comply with a statutory demand in respect of the payment of any debt;
e. an inability to pay debts as they fall due or otherwise becoming insolvent;
f. becoming incapable of managing its own affairs for any reason;
g. taking any step resulting in insolvency under administration (as defined in section 9 of the Corporations Act 2001);
h. entering into a compromise or arrangement with, or assignment for the benefit of, any of its creditors, or any analogous event.
3. The Applicant and any proposed subcontractor must be compliant with the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012.
4. The Applicant must include in its application details of any known circumstances that may give rise to an actual or potential Conflict of Interest with GRDC in responding to this procurement. The Applicant's response will be taken into account in the evaluation
1 March 2018 to 29 February 2020
By portal submission only at https://access.grdc.com.au/