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Completed project

Multi-scale monitoring tools for managing Australian tree crops: Industry meets innovation (ST15012 and others)

Key research provider: The University of New England and many others
Publication date: Friday, July 3, 2020

What was it all about?

This project was a collaborative, $6.8M initiative of the Rural R&D for Profit program, led by Hort Innovation. It progressed the investigation and trial of a number technology-based crop mapping and monitoring tools, that will ultimately help growers predict fruit quality and yield, as well as monitor tree health, including the early detection of pest and disease outbreaks.

Examples of the technologies explored include using robotics to identify and monitor certain types of produce; using heat-sensing technology, including drones, to identify disease; and using a combination of hand-held technology and satellite imagery to assist in a range of on-farm decision-making (more on this here, with a 2020 update here). More than 120 field trials into various tools and technologies took place across the country, with details available in the final research report overview, downloadable at the top of this page.

On a wider, whole-of-industry scale, among its work the project delivered the Australian Tree Crop Rapid Response Map. This used satellite technology, land-use information and ‘citizen science’ data to initially map the location and extent of commercial avocado, macadamia and mango orchards across the country, to assist in biosecurity and disaster response efforts.

The map was first released in 2017 (read our media release here) and had its first outing in helping map the impact of Tropical Cyclone Debbie in Queensland and New South Wales that same year.

In early 2020, the Australian Bushfires Rapid Response Map was developed as an offshoot of the main map to assist governments and industries in understanding the impact of the 2019 and 2020 fires on horticulture, and to plan recovery efforts. The bushfire map also incorporated mapping of the banana, citrus and olive industries. You can read more about this activity in our news article here.

With this iteration of the project concluded, it is followed by another Rural R&D for Profit initiative, Multi-scale monitoring tools for managing Australian tree crops – phase 2.

Who was involved in the work?

The multi-scale monitoring tools project was a big one! It involved some 10 sub-projects sitting under the overarching ST15012 project, with a variety of teams all being led by Hort Innovation. The key sub-projects are listed below, with their main research provider – noting that other delivery partners may have also been involved in each piece of work.

  • ST15002, with the University of New England
  • ST15003, with the University of Queensland
  • ST15004, with the University of Sydney
  • ST15005, with Central Queensland University
  • ST15006, with Agtrix
  • ST15011, with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

The final research reports available for download at the top of this page provide both a consolidated summary of all of these components, and the full details.

What is the Rural R&D for Profit program?

The Australian Government’s Rural R&D for Profit program is a competitive grants initiative that boosts funding to the country’s 15 rural research and development corporations. It supports nationally coordinated research for the benefit of Australian primary producers, outside of the levy system. Since the program begun in 2015, Hort Innovation has led or otherwise supported a number of collaborative Rural R&D for Profit projects, including this one. You can learn more about the program on the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment’s website here.


Visit the University of New England website here to access the tree crop maps established by this project, and to download the Land Use Survey App to contribute to the mapping efforts, or use the Industry Engagement Web App to review and provide comments on the map to date.


This project was managed by Hort Innovation and supported by funding from the Australian Government's Rural R&D for Profit program