CSIRO launches analytics platform to value rural properties

CSIRO launches analytics platform to value rural properties

22 February 2019

Australia’s national science agency CSIRO and rural technology start-up Digital Agriculture Services (DAS) have launched a new software platform that combines artificial intelligence, machine learning and cloud-based geospatial technology to value rural properties instantly with up to 90 per cent accuracy, says the AFR.

Previously this was only possible for residential properties, where there are a wide range of valuation and analytic tools for real estate.

The Rural Intelligence Platform combines a variety of technology developed by CSIRO over the years, including the Digital Soil Map and satellite imagery analysis, to comprehensively assess and monitor rural land anywhere across the country.

The platform takes into account elements like access to water, crop types, rainfall, drought impact, yield, and historical productivity to determine a valuation.

Climate information is also interpreted to show how drought, frost, and heat stress for livestock are likely to impact on farmers.

CEO Anthony Willmott estimates $125 billion in agricultural economic decisions in Australia each year are based on unreliable or incomplete data, says itnews.

“Digital agriculture is far more than just on-farm technology, it’s also about improving off-farm decision making and this platform lays the foundation for Australia to become a leader in new generation agricultural analytics,” he said.

“This is about supporting the ecosystem that supports the farmer – ensuring that farmers, business, policy makers and anyone invested along the agricultural ecosystem has the right rural data to make more informed decisions.”

DAS has already worked with several companies to pilot the platform, with strong interest coming from the property, financial services and insurance sectors.

Both the CSIRO and ASX-listed Ruralco have taken about 15 per cent stakes each in Melbourne-based DAS, which has secured a total of $4.25 million investment from them and private investors.

Mr Willmott began working on the platform while at Accenture, where he was managing director of agribusiness. The CSIRO came onboard as research and development partner in 2017.

Accurate data on future farm values has become increasingly important amid changing global weather patterns and unpredictable events like the recent mass fish kill in the Darling River and the issue of water usage.

Mr Willmott said the DAS platform would lay the foundation for Australia to become a leader in new generation agricultural analytics.

CSIRO agriculture and food deputy director, Dr Michael Robertson said the platform provided accurate information that can help to identify vulnerability or the most promising options for investment that will build resilience.

“This is a whole new model for rural analytics which will make it easier to quantify risk and prepare for challenges like climate volatility and change.”

A report by AlphaBeta Advisors for the CSIRO estimates the market for digital agriculture in the Asia Pacific region to be worth $10-25 billion by 2028, fuelled by pressure to meet challenges from population growth and climate change.