Federal Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce today announced $1.5 million in funding for a CSIRO real-time soil data project as part of the Soil, Big Data, and the Future of Agriculture conference in Canberra, hosted by the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney.

The project will develop an interactive system to give farmers up-to-date information about their farms, allowing them to reduce input costs, identify the best crop varieties for seasonal conditions, and improve farm productivity overall.

"Agriculture plays a critical role in building out nation's wealth today and tomorrow — and soil management plays a critical role in building agriculture," Joyce said.

"The project takes the science out of the lab, converts it into a useful format and puts it back in the hands of farmers".

The conference, supported by the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries and DOW, brought together international leaders in big data, agriculture, and soil science to look at how advances in big data analytics will increase agricultural productivity and profitability in Australia.

Event director and leader of the Soil Carbon Initiative Andrea Koch said the announcement was another important step forward in recognising soil security as a key part of agriculture in Australia.

"We are excited that the Australian Government is committed to supporting innovation in this fast-moving era of the digitisation of agriculture," Koch said.

"The United States leads the way in this field, but Australia, with its world leading-capabilities in precision agriculture, soil data, and agricultural research, is well placed to take advantage off the evolution of agriculture in the 21st century."

CEO of the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney Bates Gill said that the investment underlined the importance of bringing together thought leaders from Australia and the United States to discuss common challenges facing both nations.

"The Centre offers unparalleled opportunities for Americans and Australians to innovate, share knowledge, and expand their networks across a range of important areas," Gill said.

"We welcome the Minister's announcement at our conference as a further endorsement of the Centre's mission to help create shared solutions to common problems."