Friday, 29 April 2022

AgTech trials turning concepts into on-farm solutions

Bundaberg is leading the way in trialling agriculture technology to increase productivity on local farms and sharing that knowledge to benefit the industry.

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt today visited Eden Farms which has been the site of several trials which have investigated smart picking systems and crop imaging using GoPro cameras on drones.

“Bundaberg is renowned for its agricultural production and innovation, which is why I fought to secure funding through the Hinkler Regional Deal to take the smart farm concept and apply it to local farms in the region to test and adopt new ag tech,” Mr Pitt said.

“The Hinkler AgTech Initiative, led by CQU’s Institute for Future Farming Systems, sees researchers, producers and technology developers working together to turn concepts into solutions for growers.

“One of the great aspects of this Initiative is the sharing of information and data which benefits all local growers.

“One of the trials here at Eden Farms has used a GoPro on an unmanned drone to take images of crops and then software is used to provide crop-related data including fruit count and ripeness based on colour and what stage of growth the fruit is at.

“With so many different crops and produce grown across the Bundaberg region we are the ideal location for this AgTech to be tested and developed.”

The Director of CQUniversity’s Institute for Future Farming Systems and Leader of the Hinkler AgTech Initiative, Professor Phil Brown said the trials being conducted by Eden Farms are a great example of regional agribusinesses and AgTech providers working together to ensure that adopted AgTech has been tried and tested in ‘real world’ conditions and meets the on-ground needs of the region’s agricultural sector.

“The continued growth and expansion of OzTech Drones, including additional employment and establishment of a Hinkler-based operational base, is an outstanding example of regional AgTech providers benefitting from projects such as the Initiative,” Prof Brown said.

Other trials run through the Hinkler AgTech Initiative include a laser bird repellent system on a local peanut crop, drones used to apply sun protection to protected cropping facilities and remote monitoring and trapping of feral pigs.

As well as the various trials, the project team has installed 16 DTN weather stations within and around Bundaberg, to provide localised weather data. The data is presented in a free, user-friendly dashboard format on the Hinkler AgTech Initiative website: https://www.hinkleragtech.org/#/local-weather-station-array

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