Ag-Tech Facility is breaking new ground for fruits and vegetables.

Automation, field-based sensors, weather station networks, protected crop development and supply chain equipment are just some of the technologies that Australian fruit and vegetable growers can test at the $ 9 million Smart Farm today.

Gatton Smart Farm includes a hub and a series of satellite farms in Queensland to test equipment for a variety of crops or regional needs.

Led by Hort Innovation and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), the institute will enable growers to access unprecedented ag-tech.

According to Jane Whiteman, Hort Innovation Extension Manager, Gatton Smart Farm’s technologies will help growers across Australia better control plant growth and production, improve supply chain efficiency and customer satisfaction.

“Horticulture is one of the fastest growing agricultural sectors in Australia – it has grown by 27 per cent in the last five years to $ 15.1 billion, and our model figure could double by 2030,” she said.

According to Whiteman, technology adoption will be key to keeping pace with this rapid growth, but it shows that it is challenging.

“It can be difficult to navigate the digital agricultural market and know where to invest,” she said. “Gatton Smart Farm helps developers ‘ag-tech’ avoid risks, allowing them to choose and practice new technologies and understand the costs and benefits of adoption.

RF&E Ian Leiden, director of DAF Garden, Gender and Supply Chains, said all activities are driven by industry demand and various industry partners are advised when purchasing equipment for the facility and commercial farms.

“The technology used in Gatton Smart Farm will focus on addressing regional industry constraints and opportunities in consultation with local and regional industry,” he said.

“All the time, the focus is on all the activities that are going on from the inside out that are industry-related and have an impact.”

Some examples of the technology offered by the new Ag-Tech initiative include the following:

  • Climate-controlled glass houses and a reversible roof-protected crop structure.
  • Cool rooms with the latest controlled air technology.
  • Technologies that reduce labor resources by mechanizing and automating crop operations.
  • The latest tools and technology to control pests such as Serpentine Leafminer, Fall Armyworm and fruit and vegetable diseases.
  • Artificial intelligence and data analysis for crop production.

All research results will be shared nationwide by Hort Innovation Regional Extension Team and Vegnet. Supporting partners in the launch are Agerris, Cravo, Priva, Rijk Zwaan, Lefroy Valley Seds, Powerplants, AIS Greenworks, Hitachi Vantara, AUSVEG and Australia’s Swotatato Growing Inc.

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