Digital Transformation in Government Insight #97:
New app helps QLD farmers protect The Great Barrier Reef
A new CSIRO app helps sugarcane growers see the effects of nitrogen runoff from their farms into Queensland’s waterways. Nitrogen runoff poses a serious threat to The Great Barrier Reef.
Kicking off 2020
Welcome to our first Digital Transformation in Government (DTIG) blog for 2020, which shows how digital transformation in government can protect the environment.
How fertilisers damage The Great Barrier Reef
Queensland’s sugarcane farmers use fertilisers to help their crops grow. However, when it rains nitrogen runoff can enter local waterways and make its way to The Great Barrier Reef. The nitrogen causes phytoplankton to multiply extremely quickly, which then causes an ‘algal bloom’ covering a large area of the ocean. This casts a shadow, depriving coral and seagrass of light. In addition, when the algal bloom ends, the organisms fall to the ocean floor and start to decay using large amounts of oxygen. This leads to a dead zone in that part of the ocean floor.
This scenario shows the importance of waterway management for The Great Barrier Reef (and more broadly for environmental protection).
The CSIRO app
The CSIRO has developed an app that helps sugarcane growers see how the nitrogen runoff from their farms affects Queensland’s waterways. The app, called 1622WQ, uses sensors to measure the level of nitrogen in waterways at strategic points. By keeping an eye on what happens after it rains, farmers can see how their practices might be affecting the amount of nitrogen in Queensland’s waterways around The Great Barrier Reef. You can also view the data on the 1622.farm website.
The app uses advanced data analytics and deep learning to provide real-time data and is the first part of a larger suite of apps designed to help sugarcane farmers manage their crops and protect the environment. The app was launched on 22 January 2020. The CSIRO also sees the potential to rollout the solution to other areas and other crops.
Salsa Digital’s take
The 1622WQ app shows how the government can use technology to help protect the environment, and in this case The Great Barrier Reef. With the focus currently securely on climate change and its disastrous effects in Australia, digital transformation in government is an important tool we can use to combat climate change and help protect the environment.