CQUni pinpointed as key player in satellite positioning project

Published:12 August 2019

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan chats with (TOP) CQUni agriculture lecturer Dr Jaime Manning and (BELOW) with Geoscience Australia rep Dr John Dawson.

A national trial of world-first satellite positioning technology has proven it could deliver more than $6 billion to the Australian economy over the next 30 years.

Speaking at CQUniversity in Rockhampton this week, Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Matt Canavan said new insights into a Satellite-Based Augmentation System (SBAS) across Australia and New Zealand show huge advantages for a number of key industries.

“We all know how important GPS is to get us from point A to point B, but improved positioning is also essential to open up new opportunities for our businesses,” Minister Canavan said.

“An 18-month test-bed by Geoscience Australia trialled new precise positioning technology across 27 projects in 10 industry sectors such as mining, farming, and even in the disability sector.

“An independent economic benefits analysis of the trial shows the benefits to the economy could surpass $6 billon in Australia over the next 30 years through increased productivity, better health and safety outcomes, and improved environmental management.

“SBAS provides instant, accurate and reliable positioning without the need for mobile phone or internet coverage, improving the accuracy of GPS positioning from 5-10 metres down to 10 centimetres across Australia and its maritime zones.

“This improved positioning is a particular game changer for isolated industries such as farming and mining, whose trial projects have found significant efficiencies across the board.

“The latest figures show an $820 million saving in feed and fertiliser over 30 years through improved pasture utilisation, while mining could see a saving of $577 million through improved efficiency of mining haul trucks.”

CQU agriculture lecturer Dr Jaime Manning said the University has been undertaking a trial project to test the benefits of SBAS for livestock tracking.

“It’s great that we get to bring all this work together here at CQUni, because the trial was originally launched here in 2017,” Dr Manning said.

“We have successfully demonstrated real benefits through the trial of SBAS-enabled GPS to improve the accuracy of on-animal sensing systems, which helps us to understand an animal’s behaviour and where they are in a landscape.

“For beef cattle producers in this region, this research means that in future we will be able to detect issues such as which parts of a paddock may be over-grazed, or if an animal is not moving normally and may be sick or lame,” Dr Manning said.

“The enhanced accuracy provided by SBAS will also support the adoption of technologies like virtual fencing in more intensively-grazed pastures, which has been estimated in this report as potentially saving dairy farmers $100 per cow each year.”

Minister Canavan also noted SBAS technology had other benefits to agriculture and the Central Queensland economy.

“In addition to the benefits to beef and dairy farmers, the local Rockhampton livestock industry will benefit from the improved animal tracking to help early detection of predation events, which could save $80 million in sellable sheep over 30 years.”

Minister Canavan said the SBAS trial for the Australasian region was funded by $12 million from the Australian Government and a further $2 million from the New Zealand Government.

The trial was led by Geoscience Australia in partnership with Land Information New Zealand with FrontierSI managing industry projects.

“Beyond this trial, the Government is committed to delivering an ongoing world leading satellite positioning capability for Australia,” Minister Canavan said.

“In the 2018-19 Budget, the Federal Government provided Geoscience Australia with $160.9 million to securing a fully operational SBAS for the Australasian region and a further $64 million to the National Positioning Infrastructure Capability, which will improve positioning to 3-5 centimetres in areas with mobile coverage.”

The independent economic benefits analysis report by EY is available at .

CQUniversity Australia project:

  • CQUniversity Australia led a project testing how widespread access to improved positioning technology can be used by farmers to lower costs and reduce waste.
  • The project examined how improved satellite technology can be used to construct high resolution virtual fencing for strip grazing; and improve monitoring of livestock to enable early disease detection and more efficient breeding programs.
  • The location over time of cattle and sheep in both Australian and New Zealand field sites were monitored using collars made by CQUniversity Australia.
  • In Australia, the project conducted testing in Rockhampton and Longreach.
  • The project received $180 000 in funding from the Australian and New Zealand governments. The project participants are contributing an additional $30 000 in cash and $75 000 in in-kind.