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    LAUNCH: Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes with Grant Hollaway during a visit to Grains Innovation Park to launch Horsham SmartFarm.

New SmartFarm boon for region

Victoria’s grains industry and the Wimmera’s wider agriculture sector are set to be at the forefront of farm technology with the opening of Horsham SmartFarm.

Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaclyn Symes officially launched the SmartFarm at Horsham Grains Innovation Park during a visit to the Wimmera.

The SmartFarm will focus on fast-tracking the development and on-farm adoption of digital agriculture innovations and support the training and development of the region’s farm workforce. 

The Horsham farm is the first of four SmartFarms to be opened across the state as part of a $5-million State Government investment through its SmartSkills from SmartFarms Program, designed to build skills in science and digital agriculture. 

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The new SmartFarm will use facilities at Grains Innovation Park including the Australian Grains Genebank and Plant Phenomics Victoria, as well as a 600-hectare research farm.

The project will support 100 research and innovation staff members focused on engaging Victorian grain growers in cutting-edge digital technology to increase their productivity, profitability and sustainability.

Research activities at the SmartFarm will include the use of remote-sensing tools to identify frost damage, the development of automated remote irrigation systems to mimic disease conducive conditions, and an imaging system to help growers determine the quality of their grain.

Complementing the SmartFarms project is a new Centre for Agricultural Innovation, a research partnership between the government, Agriculture Victoria and the University of Melbourne.

The Centre for Agricultural Innovation will undertake research activities at Agriculture Victoria’s SmartFarms throughout Victoria, hosting PhD students enrolled with the University of Melbourne, who will generate new knowledge and advance science frontiers. 

The government is partnering with industry, agribusiness and communities to build SmartFarms in key regional centres across the state as gateways to research, innovation, technology and skills development for Victoria’s major agriculture industries.

Ms Symes said the government had been working with Victorian farmers to understand how digital technology could revolutionise their businesses.

“Now we’re working with some of the world’s best and brightest agricultural minds to bring this technology to life,” she said.

“On top of their benefits to farmers, SmartFarms will attract top researchers and agriculture technology businesses to regional Victoria – boosting the local economies and communities that thrive on farming.”

The development is likely to also complement a $3.6-million Demonstration of Agricultural Technology Applications – DATA – farm project at Longerenong College.

The DATA farm project, led by Skillinvest and with $2.5-million in State Government backing, is also based on on-farm technological innovation.

The entire November 27, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire October 30, 2019 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!