TwoFold - Predictive and Detective Disease Management System

Project Info

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Team Name


Team Members

Lachlan Etherton

Project Description

Australia is the food bowl of the southern hemisphere, and one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of grain. In the face of numerous diseases that limit productivity potential, farmers must ensure they use integrated management practices to sustain production. The Grains Research and Development Corporation estimates in Australia that the combined control costs and lost productivity associated with crop diseases is $1.4 billion per year.

Adaptation to climate change has seen farming practices modified, improving grain production security. These changes have seen stubble burning, soil cultivation and use of synthetic fertilizers decrease.

These farming practices, whilst improving sustainability, often result in the increased levels of disease. Retention of plant material following harvest builds soil carbon, offsetting CO2 emissions, yet provides a host for diseases which can infect crops.

To maintain crop yields, growers today use integrated disease management practices. These practices use a combination of cultural, chemical, physical and biological processes to ensure long term sustainability and reduce the occurrence of disease outbreaks whilst building resistance.

Recent rapid advancement in technologies has allowed for accurate identification for the occurrence of disease. Early detection of diseases allows growers the ability to implement any of the integrated management practices before economic injury thresholds are exceeded.

Diseases are generally spread through airborne particles between plants and can travel over many hundreds of kilometres. A disease outbreak in Western Australia, may be seen in Eastern states within a number of weeks.

The introduction of Telstra’s nationwide low-power wide area communication technologies, known as LPWANs, provide farmers the ability to deploy off-grid environmental sensors, supporting localised region specific data capture.

TwoFold is a two part, predictive and detective disease management system. It will support effective farm management and ensure the world's food security is both sustained and enhanced.

Established data on environmental conditions which promote disease growth can be integrated with weather data published by the Bureau of Meteorology and on-farm soil sensors, leveraging the capabilities of Telstra’s LPWANs. This data can be used to calculate the expected likelihood of diseases. Mitigation and maintenance strategies are available to farmers through an online portal, with consideration for their unique environment.

To complement disease prediction, a detection monitoring system featuring adhesive tape exposed to the air which collects airborne material including diseases is used. A camera with a macro lens automatically captures a photo of the disease spores on the tape. This photo is transmitted to the online cloud processing service Microsoft Azure where diseases can be analysed either by a human or through artificial intelligence.

The use of emerging technologies including LPWANs and cloud services allows accurate and enhanced detection of disease so management practices can be implemented well ahead of crop yield and economic losses.

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Data Story

Publicly available environmental and climatic data from government organisations including the Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Meteorology and Primary Industry Resources South Australia support high-level crop yield predictions. Combining these open data sources with localised soil moisture and nutrient sensors provide insight into the impact of climate conditions on various paddock conditions.

Climatic data which fosters diseases published by Agriculture Victoria is integrated with current general and localised environmental data to calculate the expected likelihood of disease growth. Proposed mitigation processes are presented to farmers to support integrated disease management practices.

Evidence of Work


Team DataSets

Crop and pasture reports - PIRSA

Description of Use Determination of the size of grain production in South Australia along with incidences of disease occurrence in previous seasons.

Data Set

Plant diseases | Biosecurity | Agriculture Victoria

Description of Use Lists the environmental conditions for various crops that support disease growth which are combined with present climatic data to calculate the likelihood of a disease’s presence.

Data Set

Recent Air Quality

Description of Use EPA air quality data will complement environmental data sourced from the Bureau of Meteorology.

Data Set

Climate Data Online

Description of Use Environmental conditions including temperature, sunlight and rainfall have a significant impact on crop yield. Information from the Bureau of Meteorology will be integrated with localised environmental sensor data and established climatic disease fostering data. The likelihood of disease development can be calculated and presented to farmers.

Data Set

Challenge Entries

IoT insights for better regional agribusiness at scale

How might we harness open data and IoT insights in near-real-time to enable local agribusiness and farms in our regions be more productive and sustainable at scale? How can we share private IoT data and regional open data for an overall more productive and sustainable agribusiness?

Go to Challenge | 13 teams have entered this challenge.

The digital future of agriculture

How might we use data and digital technology to make agriculture more sustainable, more ethical, and more efficient?

Go to Challenge | 16 teams have entered this challenge.