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Matthew Jones

BY MATTHEW JONES

@mattfruitnet

Wednesday 24th November 2021, 18:17 Melbourne

Ag-tech facility breaks new ground

Australian growers to benefit from access to cutting edge ag-tech solutions

Ag-tech facility breaks new ground

(l-r): Vegetable grower Lindsay Ziser and Hort Innovation’s Jane Wightman at the announcement of the Gatton Smart Farm

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A ‘smart farm’ will be used to showcase the latest innovations in ag-tech to Australian growers.

Announced today (24 November), the A$9m Gatton Smart Farm will comprise a ‘hub’ in Queensland and a series of satellite farms, where equipment that suits various crops or regional needs will be trialled.

Being delivered through Hort Innovation and led by the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), the facility will help growers better manage plant growth and production, improve supply chain efficiency and customer satisfaction.

“Horticulture is the fastest-growing agricultural sector in Australia – with a 27 per cent hike in value over the past five years to A$15.1bn, and our modelling shows that figure could double by 2030,” said Jane Wightman, Hort Innovation’s head of extension.

Wightman said technology adoption will be key to keeping pace with this rapid growth, however, that can prove a challenge.

“It can be difficult to navigate the digital agricultural marketplace and to know where to invest,” she said. “The Gatton Smart Farm will help growers to ‘de-risk’ ag-tech, by enabling them to select and experience the latest technologies firsthand and understand the costs and benefits of adoption.”

Automation, field-based sensors, weather station networks, protected cropping and supply chain tools are just some of the technologies that will be trialled at the Gatton Smart Farm.

Growers will be able to advise technology experts and researchers what they want to try on farm, then see the solutions in action through field days and interactive webcasts.

All research outcomes will be shared nationally through Hort Innovation’s regional extension team. Supporting partners in the initiative are Agerris, Cravo, Priva, Rijk Zwaan, Lefroy Valley Seeds, Powerplants, AIS Greenworks, Hitachi Vantara, Ausveg, and the Australian Sweetpotato Growers.

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