Melbourne will soon be the location of a research centre that will develop “smart farming” techniques, including automated harvesting and self-driving vehicles.
Monash University plans to build the technology facility in the city’s southeast. It will aim to solve the emerging challenges in the industry by exploring the use of artificial intelligence, automated, robotics and sensory technologies.
Ken Sloan, the university’s deputy vice-chancellor, said that the development of innovative farming solutions has become more important amid a rising population and temperature levels. The facility would not only seek to solve the challenges brought by these factors but also encourage long-term efforts for sustainable agriculture and farming machinery, including a V-rake for sale.
The facility would also complement the university’s existing research hubs, including the Food Innovation Centre, the Food Incubator, and the Australia-China Dairy Manufacturing Centre. As the concept of smart farming gains traction, it may be crucial in controlling the increasing costs of labour and production for vegetable growers in Australia.
Challenges to vegetable farming
The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES) released a report that showed that costs have increased for vegetable farmers. The bigger expenses have negated a projected growth of average farm income for the 2016-2017 financial years.
ABARES senior economist Dale Ashton said that the average income nationwide would increase to $266,000, up from $200,000 in the last 10 years. Despite the increase in income, some farming groups already expect prices of fruits and vegetable to rise due to the higher amount of expenses for production and labour.
The development of a new research facility in Melbourne may address the need for modernising farming concepts in Australia. Do you think that new technology such as robots and automation will curb the increasing costs for raising crops in the country?