Sugar industry productivity and data recording spatial data hub for research and extension : final report 2015/045
The Australian sugar industry was an early adopter of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and has considerable spatial data of where the crop has been grown. In some cases, data extends back for more than 20 years. When combined with the productivity data kept by the milling organisations, the data represents a considerable resource that could be used for research projects such as historical productivity analysis and bio-security response. This data was difficult for research providers to access and use, however, as it was fragmented amongst multiple databases and archived files, and was stored in different formats using different codes to indicate varieties and classes. The Sugar Data Hub project collated available data together into a single common spatial database, and enhanced the data by relating its productivity data for previous years regardless of previous block names, and to other data sources such as soils and weather. Although the original concept of the project was to store this data centrally and provide access to that data by agreement from the data owners, privacy concerns precluded this model of distribution. Instead, this data was provided back to the owners for distribution to the research community. Data quality varied across the industry, depending largely on the effort that the mill and farmers/ harvesters took in accurately consigning the bins to the mill. Considerable benefits can be derived from the data collated in this project to the industry, including (a) consistency of data between regions, (b) the ability to access historical production data for a location, and (c) the ability to relate the production data to other spatial information such as soils, agro-climatic regions and GPS data from harvesters.