Implementing new technologies for assessing oaten hay yield and quality

The University of Adelaide

  • Project code: PRJ-012659

  • Project stage: Current

  • Project start date: Monday, September 28, 2020

  • Project completion date: Saturday, March 30, 2024

  • National Priority: FCR-Production of high-quality export-grade fodder


The ongoing profitability of the Australian export hay industry relies on investment into new and emerging technology to support pre-breeding 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, field-based platform named the FieldExplorer. The FieldExplorer combines LiDAR (light detection and range) with visible-near infrared (VNIR) and short-wave infrared (SWIR) hyperspectral imaging and high resolution RGB imaging.

The advanced image-data 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 proof-of-concept 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 low-cost 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, pre-breeding and agronomy research, improving the accuracy and throughput of current quality trait assessment and result in genetic gain in oaten hay breeding.