AU Robots are to help enhance the technology of veggie farmers

Aussie vegetable farmers are preparing to get a head start through exclusive testing of the latest machines from around the globe under a pioneering new initiative.

The $4.1M initiative will encourage the utilization of modern mechanisation techniques for the Australian vegetable industry, which will reduce the high cost of inputs and labor issues that can affect the profitability of growers.

The program will run through Hort Innovation, as well as DAF. Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) working in conjunction together with Global Organisation for Agricultural Robotics (GOFAR) that is the governing body of the International Forum of Agricultural Robotics (FIRA).

Hort Innovation chief executive officer Brett Fifield said employing the cutting-edge technology is essential to making the Australian industry of horticulture up to date and competitive.

“Hort Innovation plays an important role in the forefront of world-class innovations for the horticulture industry, in order in order to make sure that Australian farmers are able to stay competitive globally,” Mr Fifield said.

“This focused on the needs of growers will put technological advances directly into the hands of cultivators, ensuring that they are able to take actively in the testing of technology, and educating others about its benefits.”

The program’s goal is disseminating findings to producers across the country by putting together a busy schedule of the field days, exhibition events, international study tours, webinars, and other opportunities for farmers to interact directly with cutting-edge technology and equipment.

DAF Director for Vegetables, Systems and Supply Chains Ian Layden said the main goal of the program was to aid growers as well as general industry members to implement technology in the field that could make a an impact on the cost of inputs.

“Through this program, and in partnership together with and the Global Organisation for Agricultural Robotics (GOFAR) We are eager to see growers more actively in search of automated and mechanised equipment solutions.” Mr Layden declared.

“The Grower Demonstrations sites that which we create will offer quantitative and qualitative data that demonstrate the efficiency potential of mechanised machines and we expect to assist growers to make more confident decision about what technology to put their money into.

“Support to growers in integrating the latest machinery into field operations is essential, and therefore tech providers and growers will be supported by the their project Partner Farm Concepts, who will be a key player in the process of implementation.

“After the successful Gatton Smart Farm AgTech Showcase held in November 2023, we’re currently supporting the first Australian robotics trial located in the Lockyer Valley and this new investment and collaboration will further the crucial research and collaboration that we enjoy with growers of vegetables as well as the world-wide technology community.”

Gwendoline Legrand, GOFAR’s co-director is confident that robots will be the next generation of agricultural machinery and the Australian sector is poised to take advantage of technology.

“Through our international network and our knowledge of the tech industry within the US as well as the EU GOFAR can provide Australia access to a worldwide system of mechanisation companies and their suppliers as well as machines and tools to allow Australian cultivators to try and improve,” Mrs Legrand said.

“We will directly connect growers with manufacturers and commercial growers actively using new technologies.”

AUSVEG chief executive chief executive Michael Coote said the vegetable business had embraced investing in the latest technology within the field.

“The industry of vegetables is faced with high expenses for the energy and labour costs, as well as chemicals and fertilizers which have significant impact on grower profits,” Mr Coote said.

“We recognize that the technology required for tackling these issues is available, but finding data, negotiating with the manufacturers, import equipment and testing it is expensive and time-consuming and can be impossible for small-scale growers.

“This program will supply our industry with unparalleled accessibility to use new equipment and technology along with the data they require for making informed business choices.”

For more information:Hort Innovation

Source: The Plantations International Agroforestry Group of Companies