Implementing new technologies for assessing oaten hay yield and quality


The ongoing profitability of the Australian export hay industry relies on investment into new and emerging technology to support prebreeding and breeding that will deliver new, improved varieties to growers. Newly developed sensing capability can now be evaluated in the field to assess crop growth and quality traits. This new technology is available now as a mobile, fieldbased platform named the FieldExplorer. The FieldExplorer combines LiDAR (light detection and range) with visiblenear infrared (VNIR) and shortwave infrared (SWIR) hyperspectral imaging and high resolution RGB imaging. The advanced imagedata acquisition, fusion and processing software platform aboard the FieldExplorer provides the capacity to fuse the results from different sensors, resulting in integrated datasets, as well as the ability to compare different sensing technologies for their ability to assess oaten hay traits. The hyperspectral imaging has the potential to measure hay quality in the field similar to lab based NIR (near infrared) techniques, whilst LiDAR sensors have the potential to provide rapid and accurate measures of biomass. The project will develop FieldExplorer calibrations for key quality traits and biomass. This will be achieved by correlating data generated from current methods utilised in the program (hay cuts for biomass, NIR calibrations and wet lab analysis) with LiDAR and hyperspectral data acquired by the FieldExplorer. Following an evaluation and calibration period, this technology could be routinely implemented in oaten hay breeding and rapidly improve the rate of genetic gain for key quality traits relevant for the continued growth of the export and domestic hay industry.


Export Fodder

Research Organisation

The University of Adelaide

Objective Summary

The objective of this research is to evaluate and demonstrate the impact of new field based crop sensing technology for measuring biomass and key quality traits relevant to the sustained growth of the export and domestic oaten hay industry. To do this, SARDI will work with the University of Adelaide team at the Plant Accelerator to analyse oat breeding trials at Turretfield, SA, and oat agronomy trials at Riverton, SA, in 2020, 2021 and 2022. This project will develop proofofconcept calibrations from analysis of FieldExplorer measurements and manually collected data. This will enable assessment of this new technology and therefore determine the future return on investment through routine adoption of the technology or development of lowcost sensors specifically designed using the calibration established over the course of this project, which could be used by growers and processors. The objective is to support breeding, prebreeding and agronomy research, improving the accuracy and throughput of current quality trait assessment and result in genetic gain in oaten hay breeding.

Project Code


Project Stage


Project Start Date

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Project Completion Date

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

Journal Articles From Project

Not Available

National Priority

Frontier technologies for building and transforming Australian industries

National Priority

Adoption of R&D

National Priority

FCR-Oaten Hay Breeding program