Monaro moisture is now just a tap away

Real-time soil data to help farmers pinpoint pasture options

On Farm
Angus Hobson on his property, “Bukalong”, near Bombala, hosting one of the soil moisture probes being used to gather forecasting data on the Monaro.

Angus Hobson on his property, “Bukalong”, near Bombala, hosting one of the soil moisture probes being used to gather forecasting data on the Monaro.


CSIRO takes soil moisture probes to high-tech level


The critical forecasts for pasture growth at the required times in autumn and spring will soon be available on demand as high-tech soil moisture probes make their way into the farmers' data world.

The member-based Tablelands and Monaro farming systems are part of the high-tech project that is delivering real time critical soil moisture data to farmers.

And for once, with good recent rain on the Monaro and parts of the Southern Tablelands, there is something to measure. Already many Monaro farmers are putting in forage oats and barley, lucerne and ryegrass. 

The new collaborative project will provide producers with 'real time' decision making tools on their mobile phones and tablets. The project, funded by the Australian Government's National Landcare Program Smart Farming partnerships, will build on the existing South East Soil Moisture Probe Network which has been helping producers on the Monaro and Southern Tablelands make better production decisions since 2017 - for cropping and stocking.

CSIRO are a key partner in the project, Patrick Mitchell, Senior Research Scientist, is part of a team that is building a pasture forecast system to provide the 'real time' predictions of pasture and livestock conditions.

"The new system combines our latest advancements in climate forecasting, soils and livestock systems modelling to give farmers better predictions of future conditions at critical times during the year." Patrick said.

"The project forms part of CSIRO's digital agriculture initiative that is helping producers harness the current growth in digital innovations within Australian agriculture."

Related: Why it is critical when using soil moisture probes

The increasingly volatile farming environment, climate and markets, means that twice-yearly forecasts are no longer sufficient for effective decision making.

Instant and reliable forecasting is required to ensure the long term profitability of farming enterprises and the management of our landscape for next generation agriculture.

Making decisions in the face of uncertainty is something that producers are all too familiar with, so a tool that can help alleviate some of that uncertainty is of great interest.

"As livestock producers, our biggest uncertainty is how much pasture we will have in the months ahead. This project will be a game changer in terms of helping us better answer this question" said Nimmitabel producer, Richard Taylor.

A recent Monaro Farming Systems seasonal outlook presentation.

A recent Monaro Farming Systems seasonal outlook presentation.

"While we don't know what rain we will get, using moisture probes and current pasture levels to give us an accurate starting point, and combining with historical rainfall probabilities going forward, gives us the best achievable insight into the months ahead.

"Having this information continually updated and delivered to our phone, tablet or lap top will be of enormous value to our business, and help us do a better job looking after our land and animals."


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