Driving ag-tech adoption across Australia (AS20007)
What’s it all about?
This investment is transforming the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries research facility at Gatton into a ‘Smart Farm’ that can be used to showcase technology to the horticulture sector. The Smart Farm will provide growers with the opportunity to interact with ag-tech innovations in a real world environment and to better understand the costs and benefits of technology adoption.
Smart Farm will provide multiple sites (research and community farms) for technology providers to showcase the potential of their technology in real world environments, with industry providing feedback and direction on its development.
The investment will facilitate a series of open house events to ensure the Smart Farm benefits the broader national industry and research community.
Over the past six months, the following activities have been achieved:
- In September 2022, the Greenhouse Technical Management Course was held, which was a specialised short course in greenhouse technical management. Fifteen growers and six industry/government protected cropping representatives attended and it was held at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Gatton Research Facility.
- From October to November 2022, the Gatton Smart Farm team worked with growers in Bundaberg to hold a GUSS (Global Unmanned Sprayed System) automated sprayer tour in Bundaberg and Bowen. It attracted roughly 55 growers, agronomists, and other industry representatives.
- In November 2022, a fresh produce Cold Chain workshop was held for 35 people in person and 21 online at the Gatton Research Facility. The workshop was held to boost awareness of the challenges and opportunities within the supply chain, and the critical impact of temperature on management of quality and shelf life of fresh produce. Access the presentations and Q&A sessions here.
- The Advanced Weather Network has been updated, with hourly temperature and daily mean precipitation now available here.
Over the past six months, the project team has progressed with several initiatives despite the impacts from flooding events across the eastern seaboard reducing the ability for project staff to engage with growers directly on-farm. Some key achievements include:
- Assessing packaging options for seafreight for exported carrots
- Grower training in protected cropping of specialty melons
- Development of protected cropping training for delivery
- Assessment of shelf-life and quality issues in baby leaf spinach
- Development and rollout of grower and AgTech ‘Expression of Interest’ process
- Development of cold chain/logistics training for fresh produce for delivery in 2023
- Validation of autonomous platforms in Bundaberg.
The grower and AgTech ‘Expression of Interest’ process was launched late April via the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Queensland Smart Farms’ Engagement Hub (engagementhub.com.au). To date, the portal has received 44 applications from a wide range of technology providers and horticultural businesses. Project reference groups will be convened during the next reporting period to assist in the assessment of the EOIs and to develop roll-out strategies for facilities and commercial farms.