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The challenge

Frost-related damage in Australia is costly to producers

Our research has led to increased knowledge on temperature mapping for frost management. ©  iStock

Frosts that occur as crops grow can result in severe stem and head damage.

This damage can reduce grain yields and quality by up to 80 per cent, depending on location, altitude, soils and the severity of the frost.

Frost damage is estimated to cause agricultural losses between $120M and $700M in Australia each year.

Aside from visually assessing a crop five to seven days after a frost event, there are no tools available to determine if a frost has occurred and to map temperatures across paddocks.

Farmers would benefit from timely, same-day maps of sub-zero temperatures in their paddocks.

Digital maps would help grain growers assess crops for frost damage and identify affected areas.

This would lead to improved decisions about how to salvage value from damaged crops and consider frost risk in future crops.

Our response

Maps for frost detection and management

Frost modelling on the ground

We developed farm-scale, minimum temperature maps to provide actionable information for farmers and advisors for frost detection and post-frost management.

Using a set of loggers, paddocks were mapped at 30-metre spatial resolution capturing terrain influence on cold air movement.

Loggers were strategically placed in the paddocks to capture the minimum temperature information accurately.

With further validation and refinement, this method has the potential to be applied across the broad acre cropping areas of Australia.

The results

Reducing the impacts of frost

Our research has led to increased knowledge on temperature mapping for frost management.

Through this work, we aim to better understand the quality of temperature mapping that is achievable and relevant to farmers.

Ultimately, the tools developed aim to reduce impacts and costs of frost damage to crops.

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