Online Farm Trials

Supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC), the Online Farm Trials (OFT) project uses the latest technology to improve access to farm trial research in the Australian grains industry. The project is being led by a team of senior scientists, researchers and programmers at Federation University Australia with advice from specialist agricultural experts. 

The project has a strong collaborative approach through its engagement with grower groups, research organisations, agricultural experts and grain industry organisations. This ensures the project outcomes are highly relevant, practical and beneficial.

The principle objective of the OFT project is to help improve the productivity and sustainability of farming enterprises by improving access to trial research information. The OFT project achieves this through two online research applications, the Trial Explorer and the Report Library.

The Trial Explorer allows users to search and filter farm trial projects from across the country to provide targeted results before giving users the opportunity to view, share and export the information. The Trial Browser, a subsidiary tool of the Trial Explorer, provides users with the opportunity to browse trial projects in areas where slow speeds restrict internet access.

The Report Library gives users the ability to search an online repository of grains industry research documents such as trial reports, case studies and project summaries for further information regarding their area of interest.

Key features of the OFT project include:

  • Online analytical tools for growers, agronomists and researchers
  • An online digital library of national farm trial research reports and supporting documents
  • Direct online access to trial research data in digital form with download capacity
  • Linking of other sources of relevant trial research information
  • Increased networking and collaboration on cropping issues and farm trial research

The diagram below demonstrates how the OFT project brings trial information and data together to produce useful outcomes for the grains industry.

Pilot Project

The Online Farm Trials (OFT) pilot project was established in late 2013 to help guide the development of the OFT research tools and resources. The pilot project included participation from three grower groups - Liebe Group (WA), Northern Grower Alliance (Qld) and Southern Farming Systems (Vic), as well as consultation with GRDC staff, GRDC panel chairs and organisations such as the Kondinin Group in Western Australia. 

As part of the pilot project Liebe Group, Northern Grower Alliance and Southern Farming Systems provided historical trial data in various formats to allow the development of the central trial database and the OFT research applications. The International Plant Nutrition Institute and the Birchip Cropping Group also provided sample data for testing and developing the Trial Explorer.

Project partners

The OFT project is funded and supported by the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC).  Federation University Australia's Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) is leading the project with a team of senior programmers and researchers.

The work of CeRDI on this project has involved collaboration with a range of agricultural experts, research groups and organisations to develop and deliver the Trial Explorer, Report Library and other trial research resources.

For details of the OFT stakeholders, please visit our project contributors directory.

Get involved

Input and feedback on the Online Farm Trials (OFT) project is welcome. This aim of this initiative is to provide user-friendly research applications for the Australian grains industry. Feedback is highly valued and will ensure the tools and resources developed are relevant, practical and useful. OFT users are encouraged to engage with the project through any of the options offered below. Discussion of any aspect of the OFT project is welcome.

Expression of interest

Researchers interested in using OFT to host trial information can complete and submit an expression of interest. The expression of interest form collects information about the research being conducted and will assist the OFT project team when discussing the opportunities and benefits of using OFT to host and share trial research information. For more information about sharing trial information, visit the submitting and publishing data page.

    Submit feedback

    Feedback or suggestions in relation to sharing trial research information would be greatly appreciated. Please feel free to use the general feedback form to provide feedback on the project. Input on the management of trial research information and knowledge is encouraged. This will ensure the OFT research applications are built and refined according to user needs and preferences.

    Contact the OFT project team

    For general enquiries about the OFT project, visit our contact page.

    Sharing trial information

    Submitting trial research data and information to the Online Farm Trials (OFT) database can be undertaken in a number of ways. These have been refined during the initial pilot undertaken with the pilot project participants. The project has now expanded beyond the pilot project participants and includes a range of research organisations from each of the three GRDC regions.

    While working with the OFT pilot project participants in the planning stage, it became apparent that trial data and information is created and stored in a wide variety of formats and systems. The goal of the OFT information transfer process is to provide a range of information transfer options that provides a flexible process for submitting trial information to the OFT research applications.

    The OFT project is based on following key knowledge sharing principles:

    • The individual, group or research organisation supplying farm trial research remains the owner of the information supplied and retains all intellectual property rights
    • Data access rights and processes are entirely governed by the researcher and access rights can be adapted to maintain existing membership policies of the group or organisation
    • The source and ownership of all data will be fully acknowledged and attributed
    • The researcher maintains full control of trial data and information on the OFT database and may remove, edit and update information at any time

    Further information on data and information sharing is provided in the FAQs and the submitting and publishing data pages.

    The Trial Explorer research application is being designed for integration with existing websites managed by research organisations. This will allow researchers and organisations to share trial information on their own websites. For further information on this feature, please visit the OFT on your website page.


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    Project team


    Assoc Prof Helen Thompson

    Director, Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation

    Assoc Prof Peter Dahlhaus

    Principle Research Fellow

    Paul Feely

    Senior programmer

    Andrew Macleod

    Manager Technical Projects

    Dr Angela Murphy

    Senior Research Fellow

    Dr Ben Wills

    Research Fellow

    Dr Nathan Robinson

    Senior Research Fellow

    Dr Judi Walters

    Research Officer

    Julie Parker Research Officer
    Robert Milne Research Associate


    Project advisors

    Cam Nicholson

    Agricultural consultant - Nicon Rural Services

    Dr Rob Norton