Q. La Trobe University welcomes the Government’s recent support for the higher education sector with a $350mil commitment to encourage innovation between Victorian companies and research institutions. La Trobe has a strong regional footprint and a focus (amongst other areas) in agriculture, food and environment, can you talk about how you see the Government supporting local companies to innovative with institutions especially in food and agriculture?
A. The Victorian Government is supporting research and innovation through its established key Agriculture Victoria research centres in regional Victoria that engage with industry, agribusiness and academia to deliver economic prosperity, regional investment and employment growth.
A key feature of our regional research centres are our SmartFarms, which allow for multi-disciplinary research and innovation for Victoria’s key agriculture industries – dairy, grains, horticulture and livestock and high rainfall cropping. These state-of-the-art SmartFarms allow our researchers to create, test and demonstrate innovative technology solutions for agriculture in partnership with industry.
Our Government is also working to support further digital agriculture initiatives.
The exciting $12 million On-Farm Internet of Things (IoT) Trial is supporting hundreds of farmers to become IoT-enabled across four industry types and regions: horticulture (Tatura), dairy (Maffra), sheep (Serpentine) and grains (Birchip). This program is helping to directly link farmers with the latest innovative apps and devices in the market, providing not just benefits on-farm, but for the broader industry.
We are also providing $2.546 million in funding to Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water to support the Demonstration of Agricultural Technology Applications (DATA) Farm project - a digitally-enabled, 1000 hectare farm at Longerenong Agricultural College that will showcase cutting-edge digital technology and support digital technology adoption in the grains sector.
On the regulatory side, we are supporting Dairy Food Safety Victoria to deliver Dairy RegTech 2022 - its flagship project to modernise food safety regulation in direct partnership with industry.
The Industrial Hemp Taskforce is another great industry/research collaboration. The Taskforce has facilitated an MoU between SuniTAFE and Australian Primary Hemp to conduct industrial hemp trials at Mildura’s SuniTafe’s SMART Farm for the purpose of producing food, fibre and building material products over the next two to three years. Hemp has huge potential in so many applications and the Government is keen to find out how it can support the industry to grow, creating jobs for regional Victorians.
These programs are just a few examples of how our Government is working closely with industry to ensure the latest research and innovation is at the forefront of what we do, to maintain the fantastic reputation of Victoria’s agriculture and food sectors