The annual CSIRO Alumni (WA Chapter) mid-year seminar will be held at Floreat.

Join us to hear about the latest advances in Digital Agriculture from some of the leading scientists in this field.

The presentation will be followed by drinks and networking.

Event date: 08Aug 2019

Thursday 8 Aug 2019

Auditorium, CSIRO Floreat

  • 1.45pm - 5.00pm

147 Underwood Avenue, Floreat WA

More information


Dr Peter Caccetta - CSIRO Data61, Perth: Advances in satellite observations and monitoring for agriculture.

Roger Lawes - CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Perth: New advances in crop modelling – information delivery and modelling vast landscapes.

Dr Patrick Mitchell - CSIRO Climate Smart Agriculture, Hobart: Translating weather and climate data into actionable insights for agriculture.

Mr Simon Foley - Agworld, Perth: Paying for technology that delivers value - why end users in Agriculture are a tough audience!

General Discussion chaired by Professor Simon Cook, State Premier's Fellow in Agriculture and Food, and Director, Centre for Digital Agriculture, Curtin University and Murdoch University.

Abstracts and Personal details

Dr Peter Caccetta - CSIRO Data61, Perth.
Advances in satellite observations and monitoring for agriculture

Abstract: Demand for information on agricultural productivity and production along with environmental reporting and auditing is creating opportunities for large-scale mapping and monitoring systems that derive information from multiple large and disparate datasets. As accuracy increases and sources of error are quantified, the information has increasing value for cropping production and logistics, natural resource management, environmental monitoring and modelling, forecasting, and public communication. Australia has a large land mass, sparse population, broad scale cropping regimes and a number of environmental challenges of which the outcomes are dependent on management decisions and policy frameworks. Remote sensing observations are very useful in these circumstances. Identifying and quantifying the challenges is key to effective management and policy responses. In this talk we describe the evolution of the technologies that have been used to date and share some recent research outcomes providing some insight into future possibilities.

Peter Caccetta received his Degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Western Australia in 1989, and his Ph.D. in Computing Science from Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Western Australia in 1997. He joined the CSIRO Division of Mathematics and Statistics in 1991 under the guidance of Dr Norm Campbell, and worked on the development of broad-scale land-cover mapping and monitoring technologies for agriculture. Since 1999 he has been a Principal Scientist and leader of the Remote Sensing and Image Integration team. In 2004, the team was awarded the CSIRO Chairman's medal, CSIRO's highest award, for its work on mapping and monitoring dry land salinity in the southwest of Western Australia and its national monitoring of perennial vegetation cover that forms the basis of the land cover change component of Australia's National Carbon Accounting System. He is currently leading an Urban Monitor initiative to monitor land cover within urban and peri-urban areas. He is active in research for agricultural monitoring of broad acre cropping. His current interests include the research and development of methodologies and algorithms for land cover and change derived from data acquired from aerial, satellite and other platforms.

Roger Lawes - CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Perth
New advances in crop modelling – information delivery and modelling vast landscapes

Abstract: Crop modelling in one form or another has been around since the early 20th Century. It evolved from simple empirical models to process models. The advent of "big data", combined with a modern expectation that any output can be viewed on a mobile phone, means that the expectations and use-cases for agricultural models across the wider agricultural community have changed. These changing expectations mean that tools that were conceived as a research product need to be revisited and re-imagined. To that end CSIRO have developed new ways of parameterising old models so output can be delivered to the community en-masse. To achieve this, science challenges such as how to estimate soil type and climate across the entire continent were overcome. The Australian Hand Book of Soils now exists on a 90 m digitised grid in a form that can drive the Australian Production SIMulator (APSIM). In addition, computer platforms that automate model runs were constructed and these runs can be driven from a mobile phone. Running old models in new ways created unintended problems that overloaded servers. This meant computational time became the new science frontier. CSIRO therefore developed a fast, effective crop model based on Satellite Imagery that could be parameterised from farmers' yield maps. Fast parameterisation of relatively simple models created the ability to monitor the Australian cropping landscape in near real time. In this talk I will detail the recent advances in the delivery of APSIM output through mobile phones and the development of the new crop model C-Crop.

Roger Lawes is a farming systems scientist and group leader for the Integrated Agricultural Systems group at CSIRO Floreat, in Western Australia. He originates from a farm on the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia. He has a B.App.Sc from Adelaide University, an M.Ag.Sc from Melbourne University and a PhD from the University of Queensland. He has worked in Mediterranean, Tropical and Rangeland systems. He has lead projects on farming systems that have had components of soil science, pathology, weed science, nutrition, economics, applied statistics and plant breeding.

Dr Patrick Mitchell – CSIRO Climate Smart Agriculture, Hobart
Translating weather and climate data into actionable insights for agriculture

Abstract: Climate and weather data represents a critical piece in the decision-making puzzle for producers and agribusiness more broadly. Relevant and timely information can help famers and agribusiness better manage trade-offs in risks and returns and reduce some of the uncertainty in tactical and strategic decisions. In this presentation I outline approaches and use-cases where my team is providing value to agriculture by:

  1. Learning to listen. By adopting a user-experience approach, our team is identifying the unique needs and interactions of farmers with weather and climate that inform how we analyse and deliver the latest research and model output.
  2. Translating 'digital noise' into actionable insights. We are building several new approaches to localising weather and climate forecasts that speak to farmer requirements across different sectors. We marry farm system models with weather and climate intelligence to build automated, real-time tools that can answer management questions from the farm and beyond.
  3. Finding innovative delivery pathways for farm systems intelligence. The rapidly changing digital farming landscape has prompted us to find ways to speed up the delivery pipeline and look beyond the traditional model of research and extension. We are empowering partners in agtech, grower groups and other research providers by developing robust analysis and delivery platforms so that our research can have wider and more sustained impact.

Patrick Mitchell is a Senior Research Scientist in CSIRO Agriculture and Food where he integrates climate science, ecology and agricultural-systems information to deliver actionable knowledge to the agricultural, forestry and land management sectors. Much of his current work explores how we can better forecast and manage climate risk and global change through systems modelling and decision-support platforms. Dr Mitchell joined CSIRO in 2010 and has applied his expertise in plant physiology, ecology and ecohydrology to advance our knowledge of water-vegetation interactions and the nature of climatic stress for native forests and plantations. In 2018 he received the CSIRO Chairman's Medal for contributions to a project that represented the largest assessment of cumulative impacts from mining ever undertaken. In 2017 he joined the Weather and Climate Decisions Team and enjoys tackling the complex challenges in agricultural sustainability using his broad multi-disciplinary perspectives and systems thinking.

Mr Simon Foley, Agworld, Perth.
Paying for technology that delivers value - why end users in Agriculture are a tough audience!

Abstract: The investment in developing new technologies in global agriculture has exploded in the last 5 years. However the hype cycle triggered by new technology has meant that the "fail fast" approach adopted by many start-ups has inevitably created disappointment, pushing the market expectations of what it means for technology to be "valuable" and solve real problems. In this talk, I will explore Agworld's journey from a Perth-founded start-up in 2009, to a globally-recognised complete-cycle farm management platform. For today's audience of technology consumers, what have we learned, and what do scalable technology solutions for primary production need to achieve to survive in a commercial environment?"

Simon Foley joined Agworld as General Manager for Australia and New Zealand in 2014. He has 25 years of experience in broadacre grain-farming systems extending from in-field production agronomics to farm and business management. Prior to joining Agworld, Simon consulted to farm businesses across WA and held senior management roles in a boutique funds-management company focussed on agricultural investments. He holds an Agricultural Science (Hons) degree from the University of Western Australia.