Now is a historic and inspiring time to be part of the Australian agriculture industry.
Global food demand is rising in line with population growth. Compared to 2007 levels, a 75 per cent increase in production will be required by 2050.
The gross value of Australian farm production is forecast to reach $58.2 billion dollars in 2017–18, which is nearly $10 billion more than the gross value of our agricultural production in 2013.
The activities that are being rolled out by research and development corporations, with producers, are unprecedented.
A study we recently commissioned showed horticulture growers are big adopters of innovation, outperforming the average business when it comes to utilising new equipment, practices and applications.
At Hort Innovation alone, we have some 600 research, development and marketing projects in the pipeline and are working with industry to deliver truly innovative technology to help growers maximise efficiency on the farm.
Last year, Hort Innovation worked with growers and the University of Sydney to open the nation’s first horticulture robotics and intelligent systems hub.
Through that, a variety of tech is being developed including a robot that can run autonomously, identifying and killing weeds, and pinpointing foreign objects in ground crops.
Researchers are drawing on satellite imagery, GPS technology and handheld scanning guns to pin-point where to start picking on a farm to get the best quality produce to retailers, and predict yield.
As a sector, we have a great deal to be celebrate.John Lloyd, CEO, Hort Innovation
We also have an app in development that monitors plants and tells growers when they need watering.
And right now, we are developing sterile male fruit flies for release in the not too distant future, to help control a pest that is costing industry an estimated $300M a year in lost markets.
In the marketing space, we have worked with growers to launch the nation’s first ever avocado pop up restaurant.
There is also an app available right now (Plant Life Balance) that employs augmented reality to allow users to take a photo of their living area and drag a selection of plants into it to improve air health with interior design elements.
With all of this amazing activity happening, it is vital that we are showcasing it to potential future generations of agriculture sector innovators and producers.
According to recent Australian Bureau of Statistics figures, agriculture industry workers are getting older, with the average age now at 56.
To help support the sustainability of horticulture, Hort Innovation is working with growers and researchers to roll out close to 30 initiatives - from Nuffield, and women’s leadership scholarships to university student placement programs.
We also recently opened the country’s first state-of-the-art National Vegetable Protected Cropping Centre to help attract new entrants to industry.
As a sector, we have a great deal to be celebrate.
We are just at the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can be achieved. Watch this space, because there is plenty more to come.
- John Lloyd is the chief executive officer of Horticulture Innovation Australia.