Nicole Manison, NT Minister for Agribusiness and Aquaculture, Media Release, 21 September 2021
Images beamed back from space are helping our Territory farmers plan their harvests including to predict the equipment and number of staff that may be needed.
The 3-year trial is winding up this harvest and has studied images of mango trees at different stages of growth to help estimate whether farmers are in for a productive season.
The trial involved 5 commercial growers across 7 Top End orchards and is jointly funded by the Territory Government, the Federal Government, and Hort Innovation.
The University of New England’s Applied Agricultural Remote Sensing Centre is the project lead, with CQ University Australia, the Australian Mango Industry Association and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland also providing input.
The Territory growers had several different varieties of mango, different management techniques and trees of varying ages.
The information provided from satellite imagery was also used by growers to make decisions around logistics, including labour, equipment, packing, storage and transport, as well as product sales.
The data from the research was presented at the 2021 Developing the North Conference hosted in Darwin and the Australian Mango Industry Association’s August roadshow.
The researchers will now carry out further analysis of the information at the end of the harvest, with the data to be published by the project teams and distributed to growers.
Quotes from Minister for Agribusiness and Aquaculture, Nicole Mansion
“Our Plant industries – including our famous mangoes, melons and Asian vegetables is valued at $445 million and this trial presents another exciting opportunity for the Territory.”
“The Territory produces over $110 million worth of mangoes annually, which flows back into the Territory economy with more local jobs and a big boost for our regional development.
“We actually produce around half of Australia’s crop, which is why it’s so important to support projects like this that help our farmers do what they do best – produce fresh, Territory-grown produce for interstate and overseas markets.
“Our agriculture sector has a significant role to play in the Territory’s economic recovery and we will continue to help our horticulture sector to grow in any way we can.”
Quotes From Minister Littleproud, Deputy Leader of the Nationals, Minister for Agriculture and Minister for Northern Australia.
“Northern Australia encompasses over 50 per cent of Australia’s landmass, but just over five per cent of its population.
“Innovation is one of seven important themes the government has committed to as part of our delivering Ag2030 Plan, setting the foundations for the agriculture industry to reach their goal of a $100 billion sector by 2030.
“The mango industry is an important horticulture crop across the North Queensland and the Northern Territory.
“I am proud that the Australian Government is playing its part in supporting what is an iconic industry.”
Quote from Hort Innovation CEO Matt Brand
“This trial has provided a unique opportunity for growers to integrate various new technologies into their businesses to contribute to helping drive the productivity, profitability and sustainability of their businesses.
“Importantly, this project also provides the wider national mango industry with vital information to apply similar practices into their operations, and achieve similar positive results.”
Quotes from University of New England, Director of Applied Agricultural Remote Sensing Centre, Professor Andrew Robson
“Through this collaborative project the UNE’s AARSC team have identified two methodologies for predicting mango yield from satellite imagery, both of which are producing accuracies that exceed current commercial practice and as such have attracted great interest and participation from many Australian growers.
“These results have established Australia as a global leader in the adoption of satellite imagery for the yield estimation of horticultural tree crops.”
Quotes from CQUniversity Australia, Professor of Sensor Systems, Dr Kerry Walsh
“This season we have tools for fruit load and harvest timing estimation in the hands of growers, from eye in the sky satellite to on the ground imaging systems.”
“We look forward to grower feedback on the utility and accuracy of the techniques.”
Quotes from Northern Territory Mango Industry Association President, Leo Skliros
“Crop forecasting is an important part of the industry.
“It sets the guidance in our marketing strategy also allowing transport, retail, & labour efficiencies.”