Cotton pickers manage data on the fly

Cotton pickers manage data on the fly

By Siobhan Chapman

An innovative software development project to manage cotton-crops has won CSIRO a national information technology award that recognises improvements to the Aussie environment.

In an example of data management on the job, farmers can now enter and manage data on cotton crops through wireless handheld computer technology, due to an enhancement of CSIRO's cotton-crop management software - CottonLOGIC.

CSIRO claims CottonLOGIC is the first decision-support software to be adapted for the Palm Operating System (OS) that can run simulation models to process data while in the field.

CottonLOGIC for Palm OS, which is designed to help farmers reduce their pesticide use, beat 190 competitors and was judged winner of the 2002 Asia Pacific Australia Information-Communication-Telecommunication (ICT) Awards in the Natural Resource Management category. The award recognises innovation in Australian ICT that contributes to the preservation or enhancement of the Australian environment.

Dr Michael Bange team leader of CSIRO Plant Industry said: "CottonLOGIC is a computer-based decision-support system that incorporates a range of research to help cotton growers make cost-effective pest management, fertiliser and irrigation decisions."

"Farmers can take their Palm handhelds into the field and enter data quickly and accurately into CottonLOGIC where it will provide them with immediate feedback on the status of their cotton crop that can be used to help reduce pesticide use," Dr Bange said. 

Farmers can also share information with other farmers. Data from a number of Palm handhelds collecting data from a number of farms across the cotton region – as far as Emerald in Central Queensland to Griffith in Southern NSW –can be integrated onto a single desktop computer for more comprehensive analysis and reporting.

Dr Bange told Image & Data Manager that CSIRO are exploring other enhancements in the future, including linking CottonLOGIC to other software such as GIS (geographical information systems) software.

No other cotton industry is as plagued by pests as Australia, according to Dr Bange, which is what drove the push to develop information software for pest control.

"This award is important because it acknowledges successful research in integrated pest management and the cotton industry's willingness to adopt new technologies to work towards environmental sustainability," Dr Bange said.

CottonLOGIC for Palm OS was developed by CSIRO Plant Industry and the Australian Cotton Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) with funding support from the Cotton R&D Association. The software will now represent Australia in the International version of the ICT awards to be decided in Cairns in 2003.

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