Multi-Scalar Crop Characterisation Network (MCCN)

Supporting the agricultural sector to understand crop-environment relationships
Rows of crops in a farm
Who will benefit
Agricultural industry, exporters, researchers, industry

The Challenge

Climate change contributes to an increased frequency of extreme weather events in Australia, such as heatwaves, floods, bushfires, and droughts. As a result, the agricultural sector faces tougher and more unpredictable weather conditions. 

This makes it more difficult for farmers to manage their farming practices and select the optimal crop breeds, since different breeds have varying resistance to drought and disease, with clear consequences for our food security and economy.

Various research organisations, government departments, industries and rural research and development corporations invest in trials to understand how factors such as weather, soil and pests affect crop growth and quality. However, since the data are generated from a range of sources, they often differ in their format, scale, frequency and precision. 

This makes it challenging to compare the data, and to understand the true relationships between the crops and their environment. Understanding and modelling these relationships is crucial to inform agricultural management practices and maximise yield.

The Approach

We are supporting our partner, the Australian Plant Phenomics Network, to standardise access to Australia’s crop research data. The project is working with established research farms and agricultural/ecological research facilities across the nation to develop a framework, standards and recommendations for sharing agricultural data in a clear and consistent way. 

Test data from these research farms and facilities will be used to establish data management protocols. The protocols will be created according to the FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) data principles, which will allow the data to be easily used and compared. 

The project will also develop user access tools that integrate time series information about crops and their environment. This will give researchers the ability to more easily compare data on crop growth, performance, weather and other dynamic influences over time. 

Using this project as a ‘proof of concept,’ this model can be expanded to the whole agricultural sector or adopted by other sectors in future.

By standardising agricultural data and developing tools that integrate information about crops and their environment, researchers will be able to work towards developing optimised breeds of crops that can withstand Australia’s changing climate. It will also enable the sector to more reliably monitor, predict, and optimise their agricultural practices to safeguard our food security.

Who Will Benefit

  • Agricultural industry
  • Exporters
  • Researchers 
  • Industry

Our Partners

  • Australian Plant Phenomics Network
  • Grains Research and Development Corporation 
  • SmartSAT Cooperative Research Centre
  • CSIRO Land and Water
  • Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network
  • University of Adelaide – The Plant Accelerator
  • University of Queensland (Gatton Research Facility)
  • University of Sydney (Narrabri Research Station)
  • Western Australian Government Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development – Merredin Research Station
  • Federation University (Agricultural Research Foundation)
  • South Australian Research and Development Institute

Target Outcomes

The key outcomes of this project are:

  • the development of clear guidelines for using and managing data about crops and their environment to enable use in broad applications
  • an increased ability for agriculture and environment researchers to access and integrate others’ data
  • the development of a data asset that readily generates data about crops and their environment for a particular location, site and time.

Key Resources


2023 to 2025

Current Phase

In progress

Project lead

Australian Plant Phenomics Network (APPN)