Enterprise Suitability Toolkit

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Tools and information are available to help farmers and prospective investors identify potential crop or enterprise options for any part of Tasmania. 

It’s a regional guide to help you with detailed on-farm investigations before making investment or operational decisions. 

What are Enterprise Suitability Maps?

Enterprise Suitability Maps are a combination of:

  • high-resolution digital soil mapping
  • climate modelling
  • crop suitability rules

These rate climate, landscape, and soil variables to the requirements of a range of crops.  

This mapping allows farmers, industry, or investors to identify: 
  • areas where crops or enterprises could potentially be introduced, intensified, or diversified, guiding more-detailed investigations at the farm or paddock-scale. 
  • possible risks or impediments to growing the crops and mitigation to improve suitability.
  • the wider viability of new enterprises at a state or regional scale.

The Enterprise Suitability Mapping is built from digital soil and climate modelling through on-farm soil sampling and climate sensing (refer to the Digital Soil Mapping and Climate Mapping sections below for further information on these topics). The mapping assumes water for crop irrigation is available and therefore not a limiting factor to production. ​

State-wide Enterprise Suitability Maps are available for a range of agricultural commodities, including:-

  • vegetables
  • cereals
  • pharmaceuticals
  • perennial horticulture
  • pastures
  • forestry.​
Users can view and query the maps, zoom into specific locations, and overlay other relevant environmental or administrative spatial layers using LISTmap.

Access to the suitability maps, crop rules and Enterprise fact sheets and user guides are provided on the Enterprise Suitability Maps​ page, or can be collectively viewed in LISTmap​ (refer to Figure 1 for an example).
The Enterprise Suitability Maps were reviewed, evaluated, and edited through consultation with the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture (TIA) and industry to ensure mapping is aligned with existing knowledge and land uses. 

For technical information relating to the Enterprise Suitability maps please refer to the metadata​. ​

Potato Suitability Map

Figure 1. LISTmap example portraying Enterprise Suitability Map for Potatoes - showing overall suitability rating as well as underlying sil and climate information (example produced for a site near Sassafras).

Enterprise Suitability and Climate Change

Changes to the Tasmanian climate are projected to have significant impacts on agricultural enterprises at farm, industry, and regional scales. Climate Futures Tasmania (CFT) modelling was integrated with the Enterprise Suitability Mapping to indicate potential changes in suitability from projected climate change in accordance with RCP 8.5 (i.e., for a future climate with little curbing of CO2 emissions). The Projected Climate Change Enterprise Suitability maps can be accessed in the following links for projection scenario’s ending at year 2030​ and 2050. The mapping provides decision support for farmers, industries, and investors to plan and adapt to changing climate factors that might be addressed through infrastructure, operational calendars, new cultivars, or alternative enterprises. 

For technical information relating to the Enterprise Suitability maps based on Climate Futures For Tasmania please refer to the metadata​

Enterprise Versatility Mapping

The Enterprise Suitability Mapping for all crops were combined into a single map to produce an Enterprise Versatility Index. This map reveals the areas of the state that are suited to the most crops, i.e., the most versatile land, suitable for a wide range of crops or rotations. Map users can query areas of interest to determine the versatility 'score' (1 to 100), where the higher the value, the more versatile the land will be, and identify the suitability ratings of all individual crops in a single map. This can allow existing and prospective land managers to identify areas potentially suitable for crop diversification and mixed-farming.

For technical information relating to the Enterprise Versatility maps please refer to the metadata.

A separate versatility map for pastures was also developed to provide decision-support for land managers to match pasture species and cultivars to local soil and climate characteristics. The basis for this is to improve pasture quality and quantity and therefore increase livestock production in Tasmania. More information regarding this can be accessed from the Pastures and Livestock Productivity Project.

For technical information relating to the Enterprise Versatility maps for pasture species please refer to the metadata.

Note that Enterprise Versatility Index maps have also been produced for 2030 and 2050 CFT projection scenario's, including projected versatility maps for pastures 2030 and 2050.

Digital Soil Mapping (DSM)​

Digital Soil mapping (DSM) is a predictive modelling approach that produces high-resolution mapping of soil type and/ or 3-D attributes and are a key input into Enterprise Suitability Mapping. DSM outputs are derived from statistically located soil sample sites with cores extracted to a depth of around 1m (where possible). Each site is described and analysed for important chemical and physical attributes using sophisticated laboratory analysisPowerful machine-learning modelling was used to extrapolate between sample sites across the entire state, to produce high resolution (30m) raster-based mapping of soil properties ​​at multiple soil depths.

Rigorous, statistically based cross-validation was used to ensure the modelled soil products are of acceptable diagnostic quality. The modelling is automated to be re-run and further refined as new site data is collected, or as advancements in remote-sensing and modelling technologies evolve.

Soil attribute mapping is available for several standard depths, and include:

  • pH
  • Electrical Conductivity (salinity)
  • Coarse Fragments (stone abundance)
  • Drainage and Permeability
  • Soil Depth
  • Exchangeable Cations
  • Texture
  • Organic Carbon

The Tasmanian DSM has contributed to the Soil and Landscape Grid of Australia and conforms and contributed to GlobalSoilMap.

DSM products are available to view in LISTmap or in the Digital Soil Mapping Web Map viewer (refer to Figure 2) or download individual datasets here. For technical information please refer to the metadata.​

Digital Soil Mapping Web Map viewer

Figure 2. Digital Soil Mapping Web Map​ viewer showcasing Soil Depth across Tasmania.

Climate Mapping

Climate parameters for the Enterprise Suitability Crop Maps were mapped using a similar modelling process to the DSM. A network of temperature sensors were placed in statistically significant topographic positions to ascertain long-term temperature-landscape relationships. A combination of traditional and machine-learning modelling processes was used to extrapolate temperature values between sensors to create high-resolution (30m) raster-based maps, relevant to important crop-specific phenological periods. The sensors were periodically moved to other areas of the state for subsequent 12-month periods to improve accuracy in data sparse regions. 
A similar approach was used to generate long-term spatial precipitation patterns using Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) and Tasmanian Government weather-station records.

Rigorous, statistically based cross-validation approaches were employed to ensure the modelled climate products were of acceptable diagnostic quality. The modelling is automated to be re-run and further refined as additional sensor data are collected, the climate window progresses, conditions vary due to climate cycles and change, or as advancements in modelling technologies evolve. The current climate modelling is current to 2018.

To complement the current climate modelling, further analysis was conducted to align parameters to Climate Futures for Tasmania projection models. These models are in accordance with the Representative Concentration Pathways scenario 8.5 (RCP 8.5) – i.e., for a future climate with little curbing of CO2 emissions - and used to estimate climate conditions for two projection epochs for years 2030 and 2050.  In combination to the current climate modelling (to 2018), a total of 228 climatic temperature and rainfall attribute maps are available for different crop-specific periods and include:
  • Mean Monthly Maximum Temperature
  • Mean Monthly Minimum Temperature
  • Frost Risk
  • Extreme Heat Risk
  • Degree-day indices and accumulations (e.g., Growing-Degree Days, Growing Season Temperature)
  • Chill-hours
  • Mean Monthly Rainfall
  • Extreme Rainfall Risk
Climate mapping products are available to view in LISTmap or in the Climate Mapping Web Map viewer (refer to Figure 3) or download individual datasets here. For technical information please refer to the metadata​.

Climate Mapping Web Map Viewer

Figure 3. Climate Mapping Web Map viewer​ showcasing Growing Degree Days across Tasmania.

Vulnerable Soils Mapping

While the Enterprise Suitability Mapping Rules provide the soil attribute ranges required for optimum productivity of listed crops, there are other soil characteristics that need to be effectively managed to ensure Soil Security, i.e., reduce the risk of soil resource damage and loss, ensure long-term sustainability, and minimise on-site and surrounding environmental impacts, such as sedimentation of waterways by erosion.

A DSM approach was used to generate state-wide, high-resolution mapping of vulnerable soils, which were embedded into the Enterprise Suitability Mapping to indicate the potential soil vulnerability hazard rating at any location. This provides decision support for land managers to identify additional soil management that might be required to protect and mitigate potential soil degradation.

Vulnerable Soil Mapping and basic management information is available here​, and includes;
  • Soil Erosion Hazard (by Water)
  • Soil Erosion Hazard (by Wind)
  • Soil Salinity Hazard
  • Soil Sodicity Hazard
  • Waterlogging Hazard​

The above map layers are available to view on LISTmap here. For technical information please refer to the metadata.

​Enterprise Suitability Research and Development

The Enterprise Suitability Mapping and underpinning soil and climate modelling culminated through intensive research and collaboration and was one of the first operational examples of Digital Soil and Climate Mapping applied in Australia. The initial methodological research was developed and verified as a pilot project in the Meander Valley and Tunbridge areas under an Australian Research Council Linkage Project between the Department and the University of Sydney, “Wealth from water: soil information for new sustainable irrigated agriculture in Tasmania", and as part of the Tasmanian Governments 'Wealth from Water' Pilot Project'. Subsequent state-wide mapping was generated as a component of the Tasmanian Government's 'Water for Profit' program. Updates and new Enterprises are periodically added as technology evolves, or as dictated by agricultural markets.

All modelling and processes were published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and presented at selected national and international conferences (below) to ensure methodological rigor and transparency.

References and Further Reading

Kidd, D., Searle, R., Grundy, M., McBratney, A., Robinson, N., O'Brien, L., Zund, P., Arrouays, D., Thomas, M., Padarian, J., Jones, E., Bennett, J., Minasny, B., Holmes, K., Malone, B., Liddicoat, C., Meier, E., Stockmann, U., Wilson, P., Wilford, J., Payne, J., Ringrose-Voase, A., Slater, B., Odgers, N., Gray, J., van Gool, D., Andrews, K., Harms, B., Stower, L., Triantafilis, J. (2020). Operationalising digital soil mapping –Lessons from Australia, Geoderma Regional, 23.

Kidd, D., B. Malone, A. McBratney, B. Minasny, N. Odgers, M. Webb and R. Searle (2014). A New Digital Soil Resource for Tasmania, Australia. 20th WORLD CONGRESS OF SOIL SCIENCE (poster).

Kidd, D., B. Malone, A. McBratney, B. Minasny and M. Webb (2015). "Operational sampling challenges to digital soil mapping in Tasmania, Australia." Geoderma Regional, 4, 1-10.

Kidd, D., M. Webb, B. Malone, B. Minasny and A. McBratney (2015). "Digital soil assessment of agricultural suitability, versatility and capital in Tasmania, Australia." Geoderma Regional, 6, 7-21.

Kidd, D., M. Webb, B. Malone, B. Minasny and A. McBratney (2015). "Eighty-meter resolution 3D soil-attribute maps for Tasmania, Australia." Soil Research, 53(8), 932-955.

Kidd, D. B. (2015). "Operational progression of digital soil assessment for agricultural growth in Tasmania, Australia." (Thesis). University of Sydney, Faculty of Agriculture and Environment.

Kidd, D. B., B. P. Malone, A. B. McBratney, B. Minasny, M. Webb, C. J. Grose, R. M. Moreton, R. A. Viscarra Rossel, W. E. Cotching, L. A. Sparrow and R. Smith (2012). "Using digital soil mapping for enterprise suitability assessment in support of Tasmanian irrigation development." In: Proceedings of the 5th Joint Australian and New Zealand Soil Science Conference: Soil solutions for diverse landscapes. Hobart. Eds LL Burkitt and LA Sparrow, Australian Society of Soil Science Inc.: 636 -640.

Kidd, D. B., B. P. Malone, A. B. McBratney, B. Minasny and M. A. Webb (2014). "Digital mapping of a soil drainage index for irrigated enterprise suitability in Tasmania, Australia." Soil Research, 52(2), 107-119.

Kidd, D. B., M. A. Webb, C. J. Grose, R. M. Moreton, B. P. Malone, A. B. McBratney, B. Minasny, R. A. Viscarra-Rossel, W. E. Cotching, L. A. Sparrow and R. Smith (2012). "Digital soil assessment: Guiding irrigation expansion in Tasmania, Australia." In: Minasny, B., A. B. McBratney, et al. (2012). Digital Soil Assessments and Beyond: Proceedings of the 5th Global Workshop on Digital Soil Mapping 2012, Sydney, Australia, Taylor & Francis.

Kidd, D. B., M. A. Webb, A. B. McBratney, B. Minasny, B. P. Malone, C. J. Grose and R. M. Moreton (2014). "Operational Digital Soil Assessment for Enterprise Suitability in Tasmania, Australia." GlobalSoilMap: Basis of the global soil spatial information system. Proceedings of the 1st GlobalSoilMap Conference, Orleans, France 7-9th Oct, 2013. pp. 113 -121. CRC Press

Webb, M., A. Hall, D. Kidd and B. Minasny (2015). "Local-scale spatial modelling for interpolating climatic temperature variables to predict agricultural plant suitability." Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 124, 1145-1165.

Webb, M., D. Kidd, C. Grose, R. Moreton, B. Malone, A. McBratney and B. Minasny (2014). "Integrating climate into the Digital Soil Assessment framework to assess land suitability." GlobalSoilMap: Basis of the global soil spatial information system. Proceedings of the 1st GlobalSoilMap Conference, Orleans, France 7-9th Oct, 2013. CRC Press

Webb, M.A., Kidd, D. & Minasny, B. (2020) “Near real-time mapping of air temperature at high spatiotemporal resolutions in Tasmania, Australia". Theoretical and Applied Climatology, 141, 1181–1201.

Webb, M., Pirie, A., Kidd, D. & Minasny, B. (2018) “Spatial analysis of frost risk to determine viticulture suitability in Tasmania, Australia". Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research, 24, 219-233

Webb, M. A. (2020). "High Resolution Mapping of Air Temperature to Support Climatic and Real-time Applications in Digital Agriculture" (Thesis). University of Sydney, Faculty of Science.​


Natural Assets Spatial Intelligence Section (NASIS)
171 Westbury Road
Phone: 03 6777 2220
Email: nasis@nre.tas.gov.au