AARSC put on the map with first place in global conference

Craig Shephard and Joel McKechnie researchers from the University of New England’s, Applied Agricultural Remote Sensing Centre have won first place for their Australian Tree Crop Map Dashboard at the 2021 Esri User Conference, putting their work “on the map” as the global standard.

The Esri User Conference (Esri UC) is the world's largest event dedicated to geographic information system (GIS) technology with 50,000 delegates attending this year’s event. It is held in the United States every July at the San Diego Convention Centre in San Diego, California. The Esri UC dates back to 1981.

Mr Shephard and Mr McKechnie started developing the Australia Tree Crop Map Dashboard (ATCM Dashboard) in 2020, as part of the Multi-scale Monitoring Tools for Managing Australian Tree Crops: Phase 2 research project. This research is driven by the support of Hort Innovation and the six Australian industries: avocado, citrus, macadamia, mango, banana and olive.

The ATCM Dashboard was developed in response to the industry’s needs to better understand the extent (area and location of production) of their commercial operations >1ha. The tool is freely available and interactively summarises the extent of avocado, citrus, macadamia and mango orchards, banana plantations and olive groves, and supports these industries to make informed and timely decisions around biosecurity and natural disaster responses.

Mr Shephard said of the award, “This really is a career highlight for Joel and I, having our work recognised at Esri US is the pinnacle. It puts our research centre AARSC and UNE on map, so to speak.”

The long-term vision for UNE’s Applied Agricultural Remote Sensing Centre is to establish Australian agriculture as a global leader in the adoption and utilisation of spatial technologies. Whilst the development of the ATCM Dashboard provides the participating industries with an immediate tool for better understanding industry extent (area and location of production) and improved preparedness to biosecurity threats and natural disasters, the full potential is yet to come.

This essential base layer of data will ultimately support decision making processes related to traceability, resource management and yield forecasting as well as major national initiatives such as water security, soil health and carbon storage.

All applications developed by Craig Shephard and Joel McKechnie as part of Multi-scale Monitoring Tools for Managing Australian Tree Crops: Phase 2 can been viewed here: www.une.edu.au/webapps.

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