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Six innovations set to change the future of farming

Investment in research and development is sowing the seeds of a bright new future for Australia’s agricultural sector. Here’s a quick look at six agtech innovations that could change the way we farm in the years to come.  

More than $2.2 billion was invested into research and development (R&D) activities during 2020-21, and according to the latest ABARES report, that investment is paying dividends, with estimates that every $1 of R&D investment generates over $7 in gross value added for farmers. 

Australia’s agricultural sector is dreaming big when it comes to the future of farming: check out these six research projects making that dream a reality.   

Next generation wool harvesting

Imagine if one of the emerging threats to Australia’s multi-billion dollar wool industry could be cut out of the equation? 

An injectable biochemical solution designed to weaken the wool follicles could do away with traditional shearings. 

Developed by the University of Adelaide with funding from Australian Wool Innovation, the innovation would give farmers greater flexibility in the timing of shearing while improving the quality of the wool and the welfare of the sheep. 

Clever cotton and creating a circular economy

Australians throw away an average of 23kg of textiles per person each year – but what if that trash could become treasure for the cotton industry? 

A multi-stakeholder project supported by the Cotton Research and Development Corporation is trialling the use of shredded cotton waste on paddocks ready for planting. 

Offering a circular economy solution to reduce landfill and cut carbon dioxide equivalents in the atmosphere, the project is showing promising signs on farm, where it is hoped it will increase soil health and fertility for improved cotton crop yields. 

Expansion of flies as berry crop pollinators

Reimagining the future of farm management has got Hort Innovation’s researchers buzzing, with plans to put flies at the centre of pollination practices. 

The transformative project, expansion of flies as berry crop pollinators, holds the promise of optimised pollination efficiency by examining the role flies play in pollinating crops to potentially expand the roster of available pollinators. 

The success of this project could lengthen the critical periods of crop pollination for berry farms, potentially blessing us with year-round fruitfulness. 

Honeybee AI

What would it take to create the ideal indoor destination for honey bees on the hunt for a pollination paradise? 

An AI-driven digital monitoring system set up via the AgriFutures Honey Bee & Pollination Program is tracking the flight of the honeybee in glasshouses and polytunnels, producing key statistics on flower visitation, insect movement and pollination.

The project could allow apiarists to design indoor horticultural spaces that meet the specific needs of bees, encouraging improved pollination outcomes, better crop yields and higher quality honey. 

Hen health status

Imagine how much time you’d save if you didn’t have to be face-to-face with your flock to keep watch for signs of sickness? 

Australian Eggs are funding a project that uses automated cameras to observe and detect changes in the behavioural patterns of free range chickens. 

This could allow poultry farmers to detect early signs of ill health that may require a vet check without having to physically walk through their flocks up to three times each day. 

Accelerating heifer genomics

What if there was a crystal ball that could foretell the fertility of your herd? 

Dairy Australia and DataGene have come up with the next best thing, testing the genomes of female cows to reliably predict the animal’s future performance. 

The Accelerating Heifer Genomics project wants to make this a routine practice on Australian diary farms, with the aim of having 300,000 females tested per year by 2025, transforming herd management in the process. 

New technologies and innovations are created every day to increase Australian farmer’s productivity, profitability, and resilience. R&D is fundamental to the delivery of these new technologies, and has a promising future with investment from the public and private sector increasing at a steadily rate over the past 10-years. 

To ensure this information is accessible across all industries, no matter if you work with cattle, honey bees, crops or in horticulture, AgriFutures growAG. platform houses a library of past, current, and ongoing research projects developed through the private and public sector, available to search for free.  

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