Patience was indeed a virtue for Tasmania’s agriculture industry after the 2020 Precision Ag Expo successfully went ahead on Monday 2 November at Hagley Farm School, following a six-month delay.

Around 180 farmers, researchers and agriculture industry members made the most of the opportunity to catch up face-to-face again in a COVID-safe setting and talk about all things precision ag. Organised by the Tasmanian Agriculture Productivity Group (TAPG) and Ag Institute Australia, the Precision Ag Expo offered a range of displays, activities and networking with live demonstrations of farming machinery and drones, new implements, soil management equipment and a cover crop trial site.

Doris Blaesing from the Soil Wealth ICP team was also on hand to share information on the project’s activities, resources and outputs with attendees.

Smelling soils with an e-nose

Among the impressive displays of precision ag technologies was an ‘electronic nose’ which is being developed by the University of Tasmania and the Soil Cooperative Research Centre as part of the Smelling Soil project.

This electronic field-based sensor, known as the soil eNose, can be used to ‘smell’ the gasses and odours emitted by different soil microbes. This can help growers gain a better understanding of soil conditions, including the composition and activity of the microbial community, which closely relates to soil health. This information can then be used to better manage soils rather than relying on farmer intuition.

Read more about the soil eNose here.

Attracting young people into ag

A highlight of the presentations held throughout the day was an update from Nuffield Scholar Clare Peltzer, who shared the findings from her research into practical ways to help young people pursue a career in agriculture.

Clare travelled to 14 countries to investigate similar programs that were underway overseas and could be replicated in Australia. She found that for such a program to succeed, there was a need for a coordinated effort with industry where students were frequently exposed to authentic agricultural experiences during pivotal times in their education, regardless of whether they attended school in an urban, regional or remote setting. Find out more about Clare’s Nuffield Scholarship here.

The Soil Wealth ICP project team congratulates the 2020 Precision Ag Expo organisers on a successful event.