Queensland’s peak farming body will fast-track a project to connect more farmers via Internet of Things technologies thanks to a Digital Transformation Grant as part of Queensland’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Communities Mark Furner said the Queensland Farmers Federation would use its $200,000 grant to create a Centre of Excellence for Internet of Things digital farming by June next year.
“These grants were established under Queensland’s Economic Recovery plan to help our agricultural industries make better use of digital technologies and access new opportunities,” Mr Furner said.
“The COVID-19 Pandemic created serious challenges for the agriculture sector, but the Palaszczuk Government has worked closely with industry to find solutions for emerging problems and stand shoulder to shoulder with our farmers.”
The grant to the Queensland Farmers Federation will support a $400,000 project that will include:
- A partnership with Enzen Australa and National Narrowband Network Company;
- Use of two farms (one in the Scenic Rim, one in Far North Queensland) as demonstration sites; and
- Establishing a network to trial smart meters and a range of IoT sensors including environmental sensors, energy and water management, asset tracking and stock monitoring.
“The grant will help to put technology and innovation at the forefront of future farming, leading to better outcomes and higher productivity for Queensland farmers,” Mr Furner said.
QFF chief executive officer Georgina Davis said the hands-on project would work with the two farms to increase understanding of the significant potential of digital farming.
“This project will convert data to information and enable farmers to make more informed decisions about farm operations, efficiency, sustainability and administration,” Dr Davis said.
“The learnings from this project will then be shared with the agricultural sector and Queensland universities to ensure the broader farming community can benefit form the value achieved.”
NNNCo executive chairman David Spence said increasing productivity and traceability is key for farmers and the broader community.
“LoRaWAN technology enables better on-farm decisions and improvements in sustainability. We believe that the transformation of the agricultural sector can be accelerated with the help of technology,” Mr Spence said.
Enzen chief executive officer Dileet Vishwanath said the company was pleased to be partnering with NNNCo and the QFF to deliver the project.
“Together we will be able to demonstrate the significant value that can be achieved through the use of digital farming using LoRaWAN and IoT and support the farming community in Queensland,” Mr Vishwanath said.
Mr Furner said a total of $5.5 million is being invested over three years through the Digital Transformation in Agribusiness Initiative.
“This funding, as part of our COVID-19 economic recovery strategy, will support agribusinesses to become digitally aware and ready to respond to future disruptions,” he said.
“Digital technology creates new ways of doing things that adds value to the agricultural sector by working more precisely, efficiently and sustainably.
“It offers innovative ways to connect producers to consumers, reduce problems related to remoteness in rural communities, and attract the next generation to jobs in the industry.”
Mr Furner said there was strong interest from industry in the first round of the Agribusiness Digital Solutions Grant Program.
“There were 22 applications received and the diversity of project proposals demonstrates the opportunities digital technologies create for the sector,” he said.
“Under a co-investment model, grants of up to $200,000 were offered for projects that enhance digital skills, drive business efficiencies and create regional jobs across Queensland.
“The approved grants of $1.045 million are for projects that use a range of technologies including the Internet of Things, cloud computing, intelligent apps, big data, automation, artificial intelligence and sensors.”