SPAA hosts successful Tasmanian Symposium


The 22nd Symposium for Precision Agriculture, a collaboration between SPAA and the University of Sydney’s PA Laboratory was held at the Tramsheds Function Centre on the 9th and 10th of September. Executive Officer Nicole Dimos said, ‘we were thrilled with the attendance of 129 delegates, given this was the first time we have held the event in Tasmania it was really positive to see so many new delegates.’

The program began with the AGM, which saw Western Australian Frank D’Emden step into role of President, replacing farmer and consultant Jessica Koch from SA. Phillip Honey, consultant from Esperance filled the role of Vice President. Ian Layden, DAF stepped down from the committee, with Julie O’Halloran providing a strong replacement as she has a strong horticultural background.

Brett Whelan, from the PA Lab once again did a terrific job at collating a program covering many facets of precision agriculture. Michael Nichols, local grower from Sisters Creek presented on how he uses NDVI for prescription fertiliser inputs, and how his attention to detail resulted in him achieving Australia’s wheat growing record of 13t/ha off 16.6ha. SAGIT sponsored speaker Joe Cook, Keith SA spoke about his experience using moisture probes and EM38 soil layers to strategically manage irrigation in his Lucerne Seed enterprise.

There were some excellent scientific presentations from many of Australia’s university and research institutions. A strong theme in crop sensor and satellite imagery technology emerged, with excellent presentations from Dr Rob Bramley (CSIRO) about the Future Farm Project,  Yield forecasting of root crops with a multispectral satellite sensor in Australia by Angelica Suarez (UNE PARG), and the use of satellite imagery for mapping pasture biomass in real-time by Iffat Ara (TIA).

Once again, the event was backed by a record number of sponsors, many of whom had trade exhibits. Landmark Echelon this year sponsored the famous ‘PA Connections’ which dove tailed nicely into the conference dinner on Monday night. At the completion of the conference, 35 delegates headed off on a bus tour to Cressy, organised by AgLogic’s Rueben Wells, visiting two impressive mixed enterprises employing land levelling and drainage PA techniques.

GRDC backs SPAA Symposium, a win for innovations in grains


The Grains Research Development Corporation (GRDC) have invested funds in SPAA’s 2019 Precision Ag Symposium in Launceston, Tasmania.

Jessica Koch, SPAA president says ‘the grains industry has been leading the way in PA research and development. The grains industry in all its facets, has always been a core part of the SPAA following. Through the funding from GRDC, our aim is to continue to support the extension of innovative technologies in grains by putting leading growers using the tech on the stage, whilst at the same time allowing researchers and product developers to rub shoulders with the growers.’

This years Symposium will be no exception, featuring over 20 presentations, showcasing a range of PA technologies including a presentation from SA grain grower Joe Cook, Keith. Andre Colaco, a researcher on the GRDC funded ‘Future Farm’ project will present on ‘an approach to sensor-based N decisions: updates from the first year of field trials. We look forward to hearing the findings to date, which have involved data collection from the properties of some of the grain-growing committee members, Branson Farms and Breezy Hill Ag.

‘I believe the talks from Swarm Farm Robotics, and Rohan Rainbows update on establishing of a code of practice for agricultural field machine autonomy will interest the grain growers in the room, as the autonomy concept has the potential to transform management practices for those in broadacre ag’.

This year, we have two representatives from GRDC attending the Symposium in Launceston, Tasmania Grower Relations Manager Randall Wilksch, and Manager for Transformational Technologies, Liam Ryan – please make yourselves known to them!

Hort Innovation tour group about to embark! ‘Vegetable growers undertake PA pilgrimage’


A tour group, comprising of leading vegetable growers from Qld, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia will undertake a four-day tour visiting precision vegetable destinations of interest. Organised and facilitated by Celia van Sprang and Julie O’Halloran from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, the tour is an initiative of a strategic levy investment under the Hort Innovation Vegetable Fund. Designed to encourage the adoption of precision agriculture, the tour will increase networks in the industry by exposing some of the leading growers in the field to technology demonstrations and other innovative growers.

The tour begins on Thursday 5th, heading to Thorndon Park Produce and P’Petual Tomatoes north of Adelaide. This will include a presentation by Dr Rohan Kimber of PRISA/SARDI on iMaps PESTS Sentinel for monitoring pest incursions. On Friday the group will head to Melbourne where they will visit Boomaroo Nursery and Fresh Select. Saturday will see a visit to tech enthusiast’s Will Bignell before departing for Launceston. Sunday will include a visit to Greenvale Pastoral and Armidale Stud, both of which have implemented different aspects of precision agriculture into their vegetable and cropping systems. The group will squeeze in one last farm visit to Harvest Moon – one of Tasmania’s largest vegetable growing, packing, marketing and exporting businesses, on the Monday morning prior to commencement of the SPAA symposium.

On Monday and Tuesday afternoon, the vegetable tour cohort will join with other PA delegates to attend the SPAA Symposium – a fitting finish with this year’s event headlining some key vegetable topics and growers. Andrew Johanson (Mulgowie Farming Company), and Troy Cairns-Walker (Phantom Produce) tour delegates and leading growers, will speak on their experiences will PA in their respective businesses, covering reduced tillage practices and variable-rate fertiliser application and their experiences in PA implementation.

President Jessica Koch says ‘we are thrilled the tour and the symposium could intertwine, horticulture is a key development area for SPAA, and the fit for the Symposium being in Tasmania has been a purposeful decision. We hope the tour attendees, and all delegates come away with new networks from the collaboration’.

SAGIT Funding brings South Australian Precision Ag leaders to Tassie Conference


SPAA was fortunate to gain SAGIT funding, which allowed us to bring Joe Cook, from Keith in South Australia to the stage at our 2019 Symposium in Launceston.

Joe’s chosen topic is ‘soil moisture monitoring and prescription irrigation for growing Lucerne in sandy soils’. Joe and his family run a business with irrigated and dryland Lucerne as the main pillar, including 300ha of seed production, which is around 50 per cent of the business. They also grow about 400ha of wheat, barley, lentils, canola and oaten hay and run 1450 Merino ewes joined to Poll Dorset rams to produce crossbred lambs.

The farm sits in a 450mm rainfall zone with soil that is generally sandy over a limestone and clay base.

Joe manages a multi-faceted business and therefore chooses to use a consulting company to help him manage his water and soil moisture ag tech and data. Joe will be giving us a firsthand look at why PA works for him, and why he chooses to outsource some of the work.

We thank the South Australian Grains Industry Trust for making it possible to allow Joe to speak about his experience in Tasmania.

Supporting Next Generation Ag – Adelaide Uni Growing the Future event


SPAA was thrilled to once again be part of the Growing the Future #GTF event organised by the Adelaide University Ag Students Association on the 15th August with 240 attendees. Robin Schaefer, SPAA committee member, and Bill Burgess attended the event held in the Ian McLaughlin Room, Adelaide Oval and manned our trade exhibit.

The event has fast become a popular ‘must attend’ for industry reps to mix with graduates and enthusiastic young people looking to launch a career in agriculture. The format began with two workshops, this year with topics covering ‘identifying five issues in agriculture and overcoming them’ and ‘starting your own business in agriculture – what skills are needed?’.

Over the evening meal, two panels with industry representatives covered two different questions – ‘do we need to improve the education about how food and fibre are produced, and how can we achieve this?’, and ‘what does the use of new technologies mean for the entire industry and how competitive Australian agriculture is moving forward in to the future?’. Robin Schaefer was part of the second panel and discussed some of the trends seen through SPAA, in particular rapidly moving progression in horticulture technology and livestock technology.

SPAA had the job of ‘wrapping up’ the evening, and Bill encouraged the graduate to challenge their thinking about agriculture and what opportunities may be presented to them in the next ten years, and of course to consider Precision Agriculture as an exciting field to work in.

Meet our new Technical Programs Manager


Today we welcome Mr Bill Burgess to our team, commencing in the role of Technical Programs Manager.

Born and bred South Australian, Bill and his family have settled down in the Barossa Valley.

Bill has a broad agricultural background of Cropping and Livestock, but most recently 5 years with a marketing and sales roles with Croplands Equipment.

Bill says “I’m really looking forward to meeting new people and extending my network whilst facilitating the real world uptake on Precision Ag technical and management systems. I’m keen to try and bring value to as many different Ag sectors as possible and am proud to be working with Australian farmers.”

In his spare time, Bill volunteers as a councillor for the National Grains and Fodder Committee based at the Adelaide Show and in the warmer months can often be found on the River water skiing with friends and family.

To get in touch with Bill, contact him via email on or phone 0400 279 969.

New face on the SPAA committee


The results of the 2018 SPAA AGM held on Monday 10th September welcome some new faces to the committee. We are thrilled to announce Rohan Rainbow who was our organisations 1st Executive Officer elected to serve a role on the management committee. “A reason for wanting to come back and support SPAA has been to assist the committee through the many challenges that government will present to industry with around issues such as data rights and automation regulation and social licence. I thought i could also bring my experience in development of national strategy to assist the committee with planning. I really feel it is time for me to give something back to growers” said Rohan. Also returning to serve another term is Robin Schaefer, Denis Pozzebon, Mark Branson, and treasurer Chad Glover

Sadly, it was time for long-term member Sam Trengove to hang up his boots after an incredible nine years. Sam was instrumental in a number of our research programs and grower groups activities, and although no longer on the committee, will no doubt will stay well connected with SPAA.

Bramley recognised with a SPAA life membership


Dr Robert Bramley, a researcher with CSIRO from Adelaide, SA has been announced as the recipient of the SPAA Life membership award.

Dr Bramley is highly respected in Australia and overseas for the research he has, and continues to undertake within the field of Precision Agriculture. His research work spans over 20 years and the contribution he has made to winegrape and sugarcane production is best described as ‘pioneering’. He has published many articles in peer-reviewed journals and in popular industry magazines, including SPAA’s own quarterly magazine Precision Ag News. Rob has presented at numerous SPAA symposia and expos, as well as SPAA-initiated field days.

Nicole Dimos, SPAA Executive Officer said “He has willingly shared his views and time, and with the respect he holds amongst his peers and SPAA members, has helped to promote SPAA as a credible, professional organisation”.

Dr Bramley was a founding SPAA committee member in 2002 and continued as a committee member until 2009. Within that time he was actively engaged at meetings and in all lines on communication.

Dr Bramley continues to be an active member of the SPAA Editorial committee.. His knowledge and critique of articles has ensured that published information is of a high standard and accurate in detail.

Dr Bramley was recognised at the 21st PA Symposium held this week in Adelaide. Former SPAA president Mr Mark Branson, who worked alongside Dr Bramley on the SPAA committee, presented the award. Mr Branson said, “Rob is a deserving recipient for the award, and was overwhelmingly nominated by fellow precision agriculture members and supporters”. The award recognises individuals who have demonstrated a remarkable and ongoing commitment to SPAA, which has enhanced its standing within its membership and the wider community, and a commitment that does not seek personal reward.

Dr Bramley receives a life membership to SPAA and a plaque to commemorate his achievements.

Attending the 21st PA Symposium, Dr Bramley said “I am humbled and honoured to have been nominated and to receive such a significant award. To me, this award celebrates the great partnerships that SPAA has formed with its members and stakeholders. What I’m most pleased about is the way my research team has used learnings about PA in one agricultural sector to inspire advances in another, which is exactly what SPAA also promotes.”

It’s membership renewal time

JOIN and/or RENEW BEFORE 11th JULY and be in with a chance to WIN a great PRIZE from Topcon Agriculture  

It’s time to renew your annual subscription with SPAA and we’ve made it even easier by completing it all online from the SPAA website  usingcredit card or Paypal facilities. Our price remains unchanged and you would have noticed more communications coming from our office via a now monthly e-newsletter and a 4th edition of Precision Ag News.

With our new website all current SPAA members will be required to re-sign up as a NEW member. Whilst this may be bothersome, it will allow the system to have the most up-to-date details and you will be able to create your own password to access the members only section that contain all our publications.

If you prefer the old fashion way of renewing or signing up and pay using other methods, that option is still available. Download the paperwork here and forward it to Kylie on

The SPAA committee thanks you for your support of the organisation, and we look forward to you re-newing or signing up and catching up with you at future events.

Will you be on our program at #PASymposium18?

Call for abstracts are now open for #PASympoisum18.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to present your research or on-farm story.

With a large crowd expected as we return to Adelaide get in quick.

Don’t forget if you have a suggestion for a speaker let me know and we can endeavor to get them onto our program.

Abstracts close July 18th, please follow the guidelines and we look forward to showcasing your PA activities.

Click here to download the guidelines and template.