AgTech precinct receives $5 million kick-start from Coalition Government

Thursday, 9 May 2019

The local agriculture industry is set to benefit from a proposed AgTech precinct led by CQUniversity Australia’s Institute for Future Farming Systems, following a $5 million injection from the Coalition Government.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt today announced the funding from the Hinkler Regional Deal for CQUniversity to lead and facilitate industry collaboration between researchers, producers and technology developers.

“This project will take the smart farm concept and apply it to commercial farms in the region to test and adopt new ag tech.

“The Bundaberg region is the largest macadamia growing region in the country, with substantial sugarcane crops, as well as avocado, sweet potato, chilli and watermelon farms also, so it’s a perfect place for new technology to be developed.

“A number of farms in the electorate will be equipped with sensor arrays – for example, soil moisture arrays for vegetable cropping or automated fruit fly trays for fruit tree crops – weather stations and network infrastructure and that data will be collected,” Mr Pitt said.

“This data will then be analysed and available for public and commercial use, which will have huge benefits for all local growers. Being able to share this type of data will help with planting, the environment and pest management.”

CQUniversity’s Associate Vice-Chancellor Luke Sinclair welcomed the funding commitment and said that the funding would help to develop capacity, opportunity and entrepreneurship in the emerging AgTech space.

“The funding will be directed towards the establishment of a precinct that will form a regional network to test and develop new ag technology, including data logging and big data application.

“As well as university staff working on the data and developing a public interface, research staff will work with farmers and agtech developers to identify, develop and test technology solutions aimed at improving productivity within the ag industry,” Mr Sinclair said.

“The establishment of this precinct has the potential to create not just local impact but impact across Australia and the world.

“We look forward to working with all levels of government and industry to establish this precinct and establish the Bundaberg region as a leader in AgTech innovation.”

Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey said the council would look to provide support for an AgTech Hub through identification and provision of locations and infrastructure where the facility would be located.

“Council will also look to partner with the Australian Government and CQUniversity in the management of the facility through its early inception and establishment phases,” Mr Dempsey said.

“I look forward to seeing our region grow through smart investments that leverage our region’s natural strength in agriculture and capacity for innovation.”

The $172.9 million Hinkler Regional Deal will support a number of important infrastructure and transport projects, including $40 million for the redevelopment of the Hervey Bay CBD, $32 million for the Quay Street bypass in Bundaberg and $15 million for the Royal Flying Doctor Service Aeromedical Training Centre.

Hinkler Regional Deal projects funded by the Coalition Government:

• $40 million for the redevelopment of the Hervey Bay CBD

• $32 million Quay Street bypass to remove heavy vehicles and commuter traffic from this area

• $24 million to flood-proof Torbanlea Pialba Road

• $15 million for the Royal Flying Doctor Service Aeromedical Training Centre

• $10 million for a multi-use conveyer at the Port of Bundaberg

• $10 million safety upgrade for the Buxton Road intersection on the Bruce Highway

• $9.2 million redevelopment of Hervey Bay Airport

• $8 million for an upgrade of Bargara Road/Princess Street

• $7.7 million to extend Urraween Road through to Boundary Road in Hervey Bay

• $7 million for a palliative care facility at Hervey Bay

• $4 million for overtaking lanes on the Isis Highway between Bundaberg and Childers

• $750,000 pre-feasibility study for Port of Bundaberg outer harbour

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