Making farms smart in Horsham

Published: 25 November 2019

Technician operating a drone in the fields.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 the Horsham SmartFarm.

The Horsham farm is the first of four SmartFarms to be opened across the state, thanks to $5 million from the Victorian Government’s SmartSkills from SmartFarms Program, which is building skills in science and digital agriculture.

Minister for Agriculture Jaclyn Symes launched the SmartFarm at the Horsham Grains Innovation Centre last week.  It will focus on fast-tracking the development and on-farm adoption of digital agriculture innovations, supporting the training and development of the region’s farm workforce.

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

The initiative will support 100 dedicated research and innovation staff 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 initiative is a new Centre for Agricultural Innovation, a strategic research partnership between the Victorian Government through 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 Victorian 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.

For more information about SmartFarms, visit Agriculture Victoria.