A new secure database of Australian farms is hoping to open the door to new analysis, exploring fine scale trends in crop production, the effects of seasonal climate and drought on farm outcomes, and measuring trends in water productivity in the Murray-Darling Basin.
A multi-year collaboration between the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences and the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the database integrates several existing datasets to unlock new insights and applications for Australian farms.
ABARES senior economist and project lead Neal Hughes said the dataset could help us better understand, measure and potentially forecast the effects of drought and climate change across different types of farms.
“This database provides a clearer picture of long-term trends in the agriculture sector, allowing us to publish datasets at finer spatial scales and with more consistency over time, than has been possible in the past,” Dr Hughes said.
“There are some exciting future applications, including supporting new approaches to drought risk management for farmers and undertaking detailed evaluations of government programs or farm management practices.”
ABARES executive director Steve Hatfield-Dodds said the construction of the database provides governments with a long-term asset that can be used to inform key issues, ranging from the drivers of farm productivity to understanding policy impacts in areas such as water reform.
“The project represents an important milestone both for efforts to extract the best possible value and insight from existing government datasets, and for the development of a new, modern approach to agricultural data and statistics that delivers more to industry and government users, while reducing the respondent burden associated with surveys,” Dr Hatfield-Dodds said
The privacy and anonymity of an individual’s information is protected, with the database de-identified and held in a secure environment to be used only for policy analysis and research purposes.