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AgTech to combat rising climate challenge

Primary Industries

Extreme weather conditions have forced South Australian farmers to develop a flair for innovation that dates back to when Richard Bowyer Smith patented the Stump Jump Plough in 1877.

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The rising impact of climate change now has modern farmers looking to technology to help them boost productivity in increasingly challenging situations.

South Australia has launched a plan to become a leader in AgTech with a focus on dryland agriculture.

In August, the South Australian government announced a major partnership with the University of Adelaide to reduce red tape and bridge the gap between academic research and commercial technologies.

One such collaborative project already underway is using machine learning to interpret satellite imagery to identify grazing pressures in remote farming areas in real time. This will potentially replace a system that only assessed these regions once every seven years.

The collaboration will also give University of Adelaide scientists access to five state-owned research farms and will bring a diverse range of academic knowledge to the agricultural sector in fields such as mathematics, engineering and machine learning for the application of new technologies.

Picture: Antonio Gravante.

Two of the farms will be also used to trial new AgTech inventions and demonstrate them to farmers to encourage early adoption.

Agriculture is among South Australia’s largest industries, contributing almost $20 billion to the state’s economy and supporting 152,000 jobs in the 2017/18 financial year.

The state’s premium food and wine is exported around the world. However, South Australia is the driest state in Australia, the driest inhabited continent on Earth.

University of Adelaide Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Rathjen said the university and South Australia had an opportunity to build on its global reputation in the areas of cereal breeding and genomics, winemaking and viticulture and animal sciences and production.

“We want to not just produce food for consumption and export, as important as that might be, we want to produce knowledge in sustainable cereal production, water management, dryland farming systems and to do that by bringing to these pressing global problems new technologies and new collaborations,” he said.

The University of Adelaide also this year launched ThincLab Waite, a business incubator aimed specifically at startups in the AgTech food and wine sectors.

AgTech industry experts met in South Australia last month to explore how AI, big data, biotech, robotics and other emerging technologies can drive efficiency and combat climate change.

University of Adelaide Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Rathjen.

The AgTech stream was part of the Southstart festival, which brought together more than 1000 entrepreneurs, investors, technologists, creative and industry experts from a range of fields.

Local companies making inroads in the AgTech space include:

Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) will also host Advance Ag – South Australia’s first AgTech showcase in February.

The Adelaide Showground event on February 24 will discuss the latest thinking in AgTech innovation and demonstrate its practical application and benefits on-farm through case studies from fellow producers, AgTech developers and industry leaders.

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story. Copied to Clipboard

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