Keith Pitt announces $1.14M to make farming smarter

Monday, 13 January 2014

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt has announced $1.14 million to help Queensland’s fruit and vegetable growers reduce production costs and protect the environment.

Mr Pitt said the Landcare Innovation Grant had been awarded to the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) to demonstrate the benefits of using variable rate technology across Queensland’s 30,000 hectares of vegetable production land.

“I look forward to seeing how this project improves productivity across the Hinkler electorate’s many farms, enhances soil health and reduces any potential off-farm impacts,” he said.

Mr Pitt said the project was one of 31 Landcare Innovation Grants approved by Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.

“These grants, totalling $21.2 million, have been awarded to a range of industry and research organisations across Australia to reduce input costs and generate better returns at the farm gate, while making sure our natural resources are here for future generations,” Mr Pitt said.

DAFF Principal Extension Officer Ian Layden said variable rate technology enabled growers to apply different rates of fertilizer and pesticides across a single field, to target areas showing variability in crop growth.

“It will assist producers to reduce inputs, such as nutrients and chemicals,” he said.

“We also expect there to be some reductions in labour costs, as farming operations become more precise and attuned to crop needs.”

Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers Executive Officer Peter Hockings said the project showed how producers, regional industry organisations and State and Federal Governments can work together, applying the latest technology advancements available, to overcome production challenges.

“With the rising pressure to meet global food security demands, it is more important than ever to encourage innovation and adoption of technology in the horticulture industry,” he said.

Media contact: Larine Statham 0427 653 814

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