Agriculture future has arrived with launch of hi-tech farm

Griffith University has joined forces to rethink the way we farm, incorporating advanced technology tocreate consistently great-tasting and high-quality produce year-round while also boosting productivity up to 75 times more than traditional methods.

Partnering with Korean Technology Promotion Agency (KOAT) and Earthfix, Griffith will play a vital role in building the smart farms of the future by maximising the sustainable use of food, land, and water, with the first farm based at Luscombe in the inner Gold Coast hinterland.

A/Prof Andrew Busch.

The farm-to-fork approach means consumers will have access to a locally sourced, high production of consistently healthy fruit and vegetables, all free of herbicides and insecticides.

Griffith Associate Professor Andrew Busch, from the School of Engineering and Built Environment, said the technologies involved with the project have been well established in Europe but there were few examples in Australia.

“Griffith University sees great potential in this partnership to deliver world-first opportunities for research collaboration around the technologies associated with smart farming and
protected cropping,” he said.

“The smart farm model has the potential to revolutionise the way that Australia produces food, allowing us to protect crops from natural disasters, but also increase productivity with intelligent systems that can control disease and increase productivity.

He said the Griffith’s ARC Research Hub for Driving Farming Productivity and Disease Prevention was perfectly placed to collaborate with local industry partners and international organisations from Korea to achieve “these important challenges of our time”.

The architects of the smart farm, Earthfix, said the model could help achieve food security and potentially protect crops from natural disasters and control disease.

Earthfix founder Stephen Orchard said the state-of-the-art facility would also generate its own energy and nutrient needs whilst taking care of its own waste through a highly unique closed loop system.

Any food waste, rootstock, or nutrient water that is generated from the smart farm will be fed back into a green energy plant that produces biogas and can be reused as an environmentally friendly, renewable energy source to power the smart farm.

Representatives from Griffith University, Earthfix and the Korean Technology Promotion Agency at the Luscombe site.

Mr Orchard said the innovative project showcased the Korean Government’s commitment to promoting sustainable agriculture and their efforts to support the global food system.

Earthfix have also worked tirelessly over the past six years to revitalise the Luscombe site by planting eleven thousand native trees, installing hollow log homes and have built our own native plant nursery to help accelerate our conservation program.

“There will be a Showcase Centre that will be open to the public, offering farm to fork and a unique educational experience, unveiling the latest in sustainable agriculture technology,” Mr Orchard said.

“We want to motivate current and future generation farmers in all countries to implement their own smart farming techniques so as to achieve food security and healthy food consumption for all consumers,” Mr Orchard said.

Griffith University Vice President Industry and External Management Dr Peter Binks said the project’s partnership presented a “real” opportunity to create world-class smart farm technology and industry in Queensland’s own backyard.

“We’re excited to work with KOAT, a world-class supporter and promoter of agricultural technologies, and Earthfix, an outstanding partner of ours in developing sustainable solutions in Queensland,’’ Dr Binks said.