The newly opened Bundaberg AgTech hub is already home to highly skilled professionals with expertise in research, testing, technology and data analysis.
Located in Bargara at the former Council Service Centre on Hughes Road, the hub is home to the Hinkler AgTech Initiative, which will deliver new and innovative agricultural technologies under the Hinkler Regional Deal.
The Hinkler AgTech initiative, based at the Bundaberg AgTech hub, is being led by CQUniversity’s Institute for Future Farming Systems.
Director and team leader Professor Phil Brown said the hub would facilitate greater interaction between groups and foster an environment that supports agricultural technology development within the region.
“The initiative will deliver increased productivity and profitability to the region’s agricultural sector through greater availability and utilisation of AgTech,” Professor Brown said.
“The (CQU) initiative team has moved into the AgTech Hub because it provides the ideal facility for co-location of businesses and organisations involved in AgTech development, prototyping, evaluation and utilisation.”
He said as more tenants moved into the space, CQU’s highly skilled team would be working alongside various AgTech providers, agribusinesses and researchers involved in AgTech development, evaluation and utilisation.
“As more AgTech providers are attracted to the region, more regional agribusinesses will begin to trial emerging AgTech,” he said.
“A range of research, development and testing opportunities will arise from these trials, ensuring that the AgTech product or service provides the optimal outcomes for the end user.
“The development of a vibrant AgTech hub in the region is important in increasing the productivity and profitability of our agribusinesses and ensuring increased economic development and jobs growth throughout the agricultural sector.”
BMRG joins Bundaberg AgTech hub
The AgTech hub’s newest tenant Burnett Mary Regional Group (BMRG) is settling in well, joining CQU and Greensill Farming Group.
BMRG chief executive Sheila Charlesworth said their new location offered “enormous expansion and enormous opportunities”.
“We have quite a lot of projects on the go presently, we now can actually include other people who shift into the AgTech hub,” Ms Charlesworth said.
“Some of the people that work with Greensills on technology are already approaching us to work with our projects.”
Ms Charlesworth said the Bundaberg Region was the ideal location for an AgTech hub.
“We have some very innovative farmers in the region and some very high-end businesses, which are leading businesses,” she said.
“They actually should be showcasing their inventions, what they're already using within their companies, particularly for macadamias, sweet potatoes, and also for avocados.
“Then you have the environmental aspects, most farmers want to improve their properties because in actual fact, that improves the bottom line.”
Both organisations agreed the opportunities for collaboration were an exciting aspect of the AgTech hub.
Professor Brown said his team already worked closely with other tenants of the hub.
“These partnerships will continue to thrive throughout the initiative’s implementation,” he said.
“It is envisaged that new tenants of the hub will emerge as a direct result of the initiative and the team will work hard at ensuring these and other tenants become part of a vibrant and sustainable regional AgTech ecosystem.”
“It's what gets done here,’ Ms Charlesworth added.
“The projects that actually are developed and the networks and the opportunities that will be provided by engaging with other likeminded organisations, not just in our region, but across Australia.
“There's going to be more diverse stakeholder collaboration, because of the new tenants that are coming to the region.”
CQU’s Hinkler AgTech hub team will be undertaking work under three key programs including data rich landscape, AgTech adoption and implementation and AgTech initiative virtual presence.
The project has been supported through the Hinkler Regional Deal by the Australian Government and Bundaberg Regional Council.
Bargara AgTech Hub officially opened
Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories Nola Marino said the project would boost agribusiness jobs in the region and be at the forefront of Ag-Tech utilisation, data analysis, research and testing.
“The Ag-Tech Bargara project is facilitating an expansion in agricultural production and agribusiness profitability by allowing local industry to access the latest Ag-Tech at early stages of commercial release as well as provide jobs growth by attracting Ag-Tech to the region,” Assistant Minister Marino said.
“The project will enable the trial and adoption of Ag-Tech on 50 farms across the region, engage over 20 Ag-Tech product and service providers, and generate over 25 direct jobs and a range of indirect jobs.”
Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said delivering on the project was a key priority under the Regional Deal.
“Future-proofing the region’s key agricultural industries through the latest innovative technologies will ensure the region is well positioned to continue to build on its agricultural heritage for decades to come,” Mr Pitt said.
“This project, delivered by CQUniversity and its partners, will provide the information, data and knowledge that farmers need to maximise productivity, grow the food we need, and be at the forefront of agricultural innovation.
“This project is already delivering with the rollout of the first technology on farms occurring in September, and now the opening of this new facility will accelerate this work.”
Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey said locating the facility in Bargara would position the region as a key research and development hub for Ag-Tech implementation across Australia.
“We have some of the most diverse agricultural production in Australia and the work being conducted by CQUniversity through their Ag-Tech initiative will establish a key facility to develop, test and implement new technologies,” Cr Dempsey said.
“Bundaberg Regional Council is pleased to support CQUniversity through this initiative and bring together a range of key Ag-Tech players in the region to build on our strengths.”
The initiative is jointly funded with the Australian Government providing $5 million, CQUniversity $1.26 million and Bundaberg Regional Council $0.75 million under the Hinkler Regional Deal.
The project complements a broader push to deliver agricultural innovation in the region, with CQUniversity co-locating with similar organisations such as Greensill Farming and the Burnett Mary Regional Group at the Bundaberg Ag-Tech hub.