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Technology-powered agriculture on display at Sydney Royal Easter Show

Editorial
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A technology-assisted form of agriculture is being showcased in Orana Parade at the Sydney Royal Easter Show, where the University of New England (UNE) has set up its “Farm of the Future” display.

The hands-on introduction to a technology-powered agriculture allows visitors to program and test-drive a driverless tractor, or observe how new sensors and data analytics are changing crop and livestock production in ways once beyond imagining.

Or they can discover the remarkable world of pollination by putting some bees and beetles under the microscope.

On the same stand, the UNE Discovery Voyager Scientists, communicators and educators are persuading visitors to get their hands muddy learning about the science of soils, including doing their own testing and evaluating soil types.

Agriculture has encouraged technological advances for more than 10,000 years, and technology has driven farming developments across the same millennia, but that process has recently accelerated to an incredible degree.

The result is nothing less than a revolution in humanity’s relationship with the land, says David Lamb, McClymont Distinguished Professor – Research at UNE.

“When we can cheaply monitor plants and animals, and analyse the data generated using algorithms and artificial intelligence, we can minimise things that reduce production, like pests and disease, and maximise things that enhance production, like animal behaviour and application of nutrients.”

“We already have more technological capability than we have been able to absorb, and the innovations keep coming. If we implemented the full capability of digital agriculture that we have available to us now, we would increase productivity by 25 per cent and the value of Australia’s agricultural production by about $25 billion.”

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