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Game-based learning no child’s play for grower training project

man in field
Game-based learning no child’s play for grower training project

Australian grain growers aren’t commonly known as online gamers, but a new research project being undertaken by the University of Southern Queensland is attempting to use the hobby to help the broadacre cropping industry better prepare for, and manage, drought.

The online agricultural risk management platform ARMonline was developed by the University and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries over a period of seven years and is today widely used by grain growers across the country.

In its current form, ARMonline allows users to plan their crop production by creating an evaluation of the season ahead by assessing cropping scenarios from the last 115 years using crop soil and weather models.

Now, with the assistance of a nearly $1-million Drought Resilience Innovation Grant by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund, University of Southern Queensland researchers from the Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems and School of Agriculture and Environmental Science will update the platform with game-based learning approaches to support decision making and improve business, social and environment drought resilience.

Lead researcher, Associate Professor Keith Pembleton, said the project would also be run in collaboration with colleagues from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, with the end goal to increase farm productivity, profitability, and adaptability.

“While dryland grain growing is well established in Australia, our climate is highly variable and many growers use gut feelings rather than taking an analytical, risk balancing approach to farming decisions,” he said.

“Through the additional training elements and gamification of the platform, we’ll be able to further customise the ARMonline tool.

“That new training material will allow us to upskill growers from central Queensland to northern New South Wales, to identify and quantify key climate and drought risks to develop individual drought resilience strategies based on personal learnings.

“These efforts all help to reduce growers’ stress when making decisions – whether that’s short term decisions around what to do with a failed crop, through to long-term decisions around balancing risks coming into a dry period.”

Find out more more information about the ARMonline suite of tools.

Grain growers and agronomists interested in participating in the project can contact Associate Professor Keith Pembleton via

This project received funding from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.