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Giving farmers the power to Decipher crop nutrition

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Agriculture / Company News

Giving farmers the power to Decipher crop nutrition

Originally published by The Australian Farmer.

By 2050 the world will need to produce around 70 per cent more food to feed a population of nearly 10 billion people. The biggest challenge for the agricultural industry will be to increase productivity despite limited available land – thus making technologies that can improve efficiency and increase yield integral to the future of farming. Australian company Decipher is aiming to play a significant part in helping farmers meet this challenge.

Launched in 2017 as a part of the Industrials Division of Wesfarmers, Decipher is an easy-to-use decision agriculture platform that provides powerful nutritional insights to farmers. Decipher allows farmers to see crop variability, compare and track growth performance, create sample nutrition plans and organise information about the land through management zones. The platform integrates cutting edge spatial technology from Google and Microsoft, remote sensing and big data analytics to provide farmers with a wealth of information about their crops. In order to inform these crucial decisions about crop nutrition and pasture management, Decipher uses advanced satellite imagery combined with ground-truthing data taken from soil and plant samples. While it may sound like complicated technology, the key to the award-winning Decipher software is its simplicity for users in bringing farm data to life. “We take complex, reliable technology and provide it in a simple-to-use service that farmers can access anywhere and anytime,” says Decipher CEO Anthony Walker.

“The farmer doesn’t have to be an expert in mapping technology or know how to fly a drone – with Decipher they can use the derived information to help optimise yield and efficiency.”

Walker was appointed Decipher’s CEO in September 2018, tasked with deploying, scaling and growing the software globally. With a rural upbringing and a deep history in software development and geographic information systems (GIS), Walker is excited to combine his expertise with his farming roots. His vision for Decipher is to deliver to farmers the power to make better decisions, farm more sustainably and, most importantly, improve their yield. “I want farmers to think of Decipher as a key tool which influences the profitability of their operations, whether they’re farming in Western Australia, Argentina or Sussex,” says Walker.

“For us it’s about unlocking all the tools that will help farmers make decisions to improve productivity; not just creating another pretty map.”

With the strength of Wesfarmers behind it, Decipher has the resources and business structure that are the envy of other tech start-ups. This backing allows the company to spend time and money perfecting and constantly updating its technology and allows Walker to keep one eye on the opportunities that agtech could deliver to farmers in the near future. “As a start-up business we generally only look 12-24 months ahead, but my role as CEO is to look beyond that horizon,” says Walker. “What is particularly exciting to me is the insights we will be able to deliver to farmers as technology and algorithms improve and artificial intelligence becomes more mainstream in the sector. “At the moment, satellites are providing weekly updates to Decipher at about 10m to 30m pixel resolution – but what could farmers do with that data if they got updates every half an hour at 15cm? That’s the vision for the Decipher software going forward: to be a toolbox that can unlock these capabilities and deliver them easily to the farmer.”

Key benefits

  • Decipher boils down complex geo-spatial and scientific data to provide a platform that simplifies the soil and crop nutrition process and helps grow farm productivity
  • It is the first time such a detailed level of vegetation analysis and geographical coverage has been made visible and readily accessible to Australia’s agricultural industry

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