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Frost modelling project

Photo credit: By Schnobby [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

Minimum temperature mapping at farm scale for strategic and tactical frost management.

Frost related damage in Australia is estimated to cause agricultural losses between $120M and $700M each year. Frosts that occur during or after ear-emergence can result in severe stem and head damage, which can reduce grain yields and quality by up to 80%, depending on location, altitude, soils and the severity of the frost. However, other than visually assessing a crop 5-7 days after a frost event, there are no tools available to determine if a frost has occurred and to map temperatures across paddocks. Farmers could benefit greatly from timely information (e.g. available same day) in the form of maps of sub-zero temperatures in their paddocks. Such maps would assist grain growers in determining whether and where crops to assess crops for frost damage, and lead to improved decisions about how to salvage value from damaged crops and consider frost risk in future crops.

We developed paddock scale minimum temperature maps to provide actionable information for farmers and advisors for frost detection and post-frost management. Using a set of loggers (~$50 each) paddocks were mapped at 30 m spatial resolution capturing terrain influence on cold air movement. The location of placement of loggers in the paddocks was critical to capture the minimum temperature information accurately. With further validation and refinement of the methods, this method has the potential to be applied across the broad acre cropping areas of Australia.

Through this work, we aim to better understand the quality of temperature mapping that is achievable through different densities of temperature loggers, and make recommendations on logger placement and logger density.

Contact Uday Nidumolu for more information.