Key Australian producers, researchers and commercial partners gathered in Melbourne on Thursday (19 February) to develop an investment strategy for agricultural robotics and automation within the fresh produce sector.
The daylong workshop, presented by Horticulture Innovation Australia (HIA), helped identify industry priorities for future levy investments in robotics programmes. The barriers of technology commercialisation were also discussed at length.
“Using data collected from robotic equipment will undoubtedly play a key role in improving growers’ management of their produce,” HIA chief executive John Lloyd explained. “Robotic trials are continually proving their many benefits, from increasing yields and decreasing chemical use. The workshop was about keeping growers’ needs in mind, focusing on identifying the problems they face and collaboratively finding a solution.”
Richard Mulcahy, CEO of industry body Ausveg, said it was pleasing to see a number of growers from the vegetable sector involved in the event, which he said highlighted the industry’s continual pursuit of productivity-enhancing innovation.
“Agricultural robotics and automation is one of the most exciting areas of industry research and development currently underway, and it is important that the industry keeps abreast of the latest developments to ensure we remain productive and profitable in the years ahead,” Mulcahy explained.