UNE sugar cane researchers awarded prestigious medal

Published 26 May 2016

Research led by the University of New England has been awarded the prestigious President’s Medal for their groundbreaking work in yield forecasting and nitrogen monitoring using satellite imagery.

The medal was awarded at the recent Australian Society of Sugar Cane Technologists (ASSCT) conference held in Mackay to the best research paper presented.

The paper “Evaluating remote sensing technologies for improved yield forecasting and for the measurement of foliar nitrogen concentration in sugarcane” was among a strong field of papers presented at the conference.

The research funded by Sugar Research Australia, was a strong example of collaborative research between the University of New England, The University of Queensland and Sugar Research Australia.

For the University of New England itself, this research drew upon the expertise of principal researcher Associate Professor Andrew Robson, Dr Greg Falzon, Dr Niva Verma and Dr Moshiur Rahman.

“This research brought together scientists from a range of disciplines including remote sensing, biomass growth modelling, computational science and statistics,” A/Prof Robson said.

Dr Moshiur Rahman, A/Prof Andrew Robson, Dr Niva Verma and Dr Greg Falzon

“This demonstrates UNE’s ability to engage with industry effectively and to work across academic areas to deliver outcomes that are recognised by peers and the industry themselves.”

As validation of this success and the collaborative nature of this research, Sugar Research Australia has announced additional funding for the team to continue the work over the next three years.

“For the 2015 harvest season the team provided sugar mills across 11 Australian growing regions with over 60 000 individual sugarcane crop vigour and derived yield maps,” A/Prof Robson said.

“Our next objective is to work with the mills to improve the delivery of these maps to growers, productivity services and researcher’s.

“This information will support the adoption of precision agriculture technologies for applications such as improved nitrogen management, disease and pest monitoring and yield forecasting.”

A/Prof. Robson said that the award and additional funding was a very strong acknowledgement by industry that the whole team is heading in the right direction.