Research to prevent farmers’ profits going up in flames

8 MARCH 2022

Research to prevent farmers’ profits going up in flames

Charles Sturt to contribute to research project that will review data to determine how to understand haystack degradation as a precursor to fires, preventing property and monetary losses.

  • Charles Sturt research to generate alerts to prevent haystack fires, reduce damage and monetary losses

A Charles Sturt University collaboration could soon provide Australian farmers with a more accurate and efficient way to understand haystack degradation on their properties.

A new research project between Food Agility CRC, Charles Sturt University, IAG and Myriota will review what data is most essential to understanding haystack degradation as a precursor to fires.

According to the Country Fire Authority (CFA), spontaneous ignition is the leading cause of haystack fires in Victoria. These preventable fires put crops, machinery, and fencing at risk, as well as impacting the livelihood and mental health of those impacted.

Throughout this project, haystacks will be individually monitored, and the data collected will be transmitted via Myriota developed satellite communication technology to a central monitoring and visualisation location. The data will be modelled to recommend sensor configuration and placement in haystacks and generate timely alerts to farmers when their haystacks are at an increased chance of combustion.

The research team will also look at how to identify the critical indicators and process this data to send alerts through Myriota’s satellite communications system. This will allow for monitoring on properties that previously had low or no telecommunications coverage.

The project is jointly funded by Food Agility, Charles Sturt and IAG, while Myriota will lead the development of the communication technology.

Lead researcher is Senior Technical Officer in the Charles Sturt Faculty of Science and Health Dr John Broster.

He said this research could provide solutions that can prevent costly losses for farmers.

“Farmers spend a lot of money and time making hay for sale or for their own fodder reserves,” he said.

“Haystack fires result in the loss of that asset, and the worst part is that it is completely unexpected. We are aiming to change that with monitoring technology.”

Myriota Vice President of Strategic Partnerships Mr Paul Sheridan said the research will use satellite technology to fill time-critical gaps of knowledge for farmers.

“Without ubiquitous coverage, Australian farmers face time-critical gaps of knowledge on asset exposure, vulnerability, and possible hazards,” he said.

“This project will leverage Myriota's reliable and cost- effective satellite IoT technology to help farmers accurately monitor their hay health even in the most remote locations.”

Food Agility CRC Chief Scientist Professor David Lamb said farmers need to better understand haystack dehydration to mitigate its risks.

“This project could significantly improve our collective knowledge regarding how the quality of baled hay changes over time and the threat of spontaneous fires,” he said.

“Anything we can do to help safeguard the livelihood of Australian farmers is worth doing.”

IAG Specialist, Partnerships and Development IIA WFI Mr Josh Coughlan said the goal of the project is to provide a value exchange for customers to help them mitigate risk to properties while striving to make the world a better place.

Media Note:

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Nicole Barlow at Charles Sturt Media on 0429 217 026 or

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