29 Feb

Australia commits to a future of smart agriculture

Australia’s Coalition Government has announced its plans to expand the CSIRO’s decision support system for agricultural transit and infrastructure investments. The TRAnsport Network Strategic Investment Tool (TRANSIT) aims to inform transport infrastructure investment decisions across the agriculture sector.

Australia’s Agriculture supply chains consist of distances of over 1,000 km between production, processing and markets, with resulting transport costs accounting for up to 40 per cent of the market price. TRANSIT was developed by CSIRO to analyse both small and large scale investments in the agriculture supply chain, with current applications for all northern livestock logistics.

The system works by analysing every possible combination of transport routes and methods (road and rail) and determining those that optimise vehicle movements between enterprises in the agriculture supply chain.

In his official statement, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, said TRANSIT was an invaluable tool in supporting evidence-based infrastructure investment decisions.

“TRANSIT currently has applications for all northern livestock logistics. This $1 million expansion will see the tool’s applications extended to cover about 25 agricultural commodities, representing more than 95 per cent of Australia’s agricultural transport volume,” Minister Joyce said.

“Work is ahead of schedule to analyse the supply chains for grains (including wheat, barley, oats, lentils, chickpeas and canola), dairy, rice, cotton, pigs and sugar.

“Across our vast land, agriculture supply chains often span distances of more than 1000 kilometres, and transport costs can account for up to 40 per cent of the market price, squeezing profits at the farmgate.

“Investment in supply chain infrastructure is crucial to the ability of our agriculture sector to remain competitive and profitable, and to capture the significant opportunities presented by increasing food demand in Asia—but it is important that this investment is evidence based and delivers the greatest possible benefit to industry,” Minister Joyce said.

The commitment will also facilitate the federal government’s broader investments in agricultural infrastructure, such as the $100 million Northern Australia Beef Roads Fund and the $500 million National Water Infrastructure Development Fund.

The announcement came ahead of the recent news that CSIRO plans to cut up to 350 jobs across the organisation, including land, water and climate research.

Source: Anthony Wallace, http://www.spatialsource.com.au/2016/02/09/%E2%80%8Baustralia-commits-to-a-future-of-smart-agriculture/