October 2017 Update

Rollout of additional features in Trial Explorer

Welcome to the October update for the Online Farm Trials (OFT) project from the team at the Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation (CeRDI) at Federation University Australia.

Technical updates

The development of OFT has been continuing with the roll out of a number of new features over the past few months. These include use of SILO weather data, inclusion of DPIRD weather station API and addition of a new search option.

SILO weather data

The ‘Climate’ tab of each OFT trial project displays rainfall and temperature data for each trial project. Specific rainfall data provided by the contributing research organisation is shown (if provided), and derived climate data is sourced from the nearest Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) weather station. In cases where there is no locally-collected data and the nearest BOM site is a significant distance from the trial site, rainfall and temperature estimates may not accurately represent conditions at the trial location. Recently, SILO (Scientific Information for Land Owners) climatic data has been integrated within OFT to improve the estimation of conditions occurring at a trial location for the relevant time period, particularly when locally collected data are not available.

SILO is an enhanced database of historical climate records for Australia hosted by the Science Delivery Division of the Department of Science, Information Technology and Innovation (Queensland). With the addition of SILO-sourced data, rainfall and temperature can be estimated and displayed in OFT for any trial site to the nearest 5km.  Use of the SILO dataset can also compensate when a BOM weather station was not recording correctly or when monitoring moved to a different station. The estimation of long-term rainfall deciles displayed in OFT has also been improved by use of SILO data due to the greater historical range it provides (modelled data is available back to 1889).

Further information on SILO weather data

Jeffrey, S.J., Carter, J.O., Moodie, K.B. and Beswick, A.R. (2001). Using spatial interpolation to construct a comprehensive archive of Australian climate data, Environmental Modelling and Software, Vol 16/4, pp 309-330. DOI: 10.1016/S1364-8152(01)00008-1.

DPIRD weather station API

The Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s (DPIRD) Weather Station API is being tested for retrieval and display of climate data recorded by the Department’s network of over 130 weather stations.

Western Australian trial sites will have access to the DPIRD Weather station network, which contains a wealth of information in addition to rainfall and temperature. Methods of integrating this data with the other sources of climate information in OFT are currently being evaluated.

Further information on the DPIRD Weather Station API

New search option

A new OFT website search that provides flexible filtering options and impressive speed has been implemented. The search provides rapid simple access to trials on OFT from the home page with the Trial Explorer tool still providing more advanced search and display options if required. Feedback on the new search is welcome, please provide any comments or suggestions through the OFT feedback form.

SoilsWest project

The SoilsWest alliance in Western Australia recently launched their new website – www.soilswest.org.au. Established in 2016, SoilsWest is an alliance of soil research professionals working under a partnership between the University of Western Australia and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development. The OFT team worked with SoilsWest Director Frances Hoyle (University of Western Australia) to develop a trials map for the new website that provides an integrated and customised view of trial research from OFT that is relevant to soil management in Western Australia. The SoilsWest trial map is dynamically linked to the OFT database so that any new or updated trials submitted to OFT will also be available on SoilsWest map.

Further information:

Content update

North East Farming Futures

The OFT team recently worked with the North East Farming Futures group to publish 58 trial projects from within the Western GRDC region. Trial projects contain results from research conducted between 2010 and 2012 and include topics such as the application of fungicide for yellow spot control, and comparisons of Hybrid CL, TT and RR canola varieties.

More Profit from Crop Nutrition

A large number of trials from the GRDC ‘More Profit from Crop Nutrition’ project have been added to OFT in the past few months. These trial projects cover more than 330 research reports spanning 80 years of experiments focussing on soil trace elements research. This research has covered work within all GRDC growing regions, from as far north as Biloela in Qld (http://www.farmtrials.com.au/trial/18201), to Millicent in SA (http://www.farmtrials.com.au/trial/18530) and as far west as the Eradu sandplain in WA (http://www.farmtrials.com.au/trial/18937). A big thank you to Murry Unkovich for compiling this large dataset and for contributing to the OFT project.

Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development – Agriculture and Food (formerly DAFWA)

A number of researchers within the newly-formed Western Australian Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) have also been adding to the number of trial projects published on OFT. There are now 76 trial projects that have been contributed by the growing group of DPIRD researchers using OFT’s online systems to upload and share trial research information and data. Most of these trials are from recent research (2012–16) and cover topics such as the option of low fertiliser inputs for canola in low rainfall areas, early seeding as a method of climate change adaption  and nitrogen management of hybrid canola in the mallee.

New CeRDI staff and OFT team members

Dr Ben Wills and Julie Parker have recently taken on new positions with CeRDI and will both be joining the team working on OFT.

Ben will be initially working on engaging with the grain research community to identify further opportunities to support organisations in contributing, managing and publishing trial data and information as well as identifying sector needs and priorities that will inform further improvement of the OFT platform. Ben will also be working on CeRDI’s longitudinal impact research program that evaluates the role of technology, such as OFT, in delivering practice change and benefit to the sector.

Julie will be providing support to users of OFT and assisting organisations to upload, manage and publish their trial data and information using the provided tools and applications. Julie will also be assisting with user training, communication and stakeholder engagement activities. 

Connect with OFT


Twitter: @onlinefarmtrial

General enquiries: oft@farmtrials.com.au

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Centre for eResearch and Digital Innovation

We look forward to bringing some new and fresh changes and improvements to OFT in the coming months.


Kind regards from the Online Farm Trials team.