Horticulture

Testing new technology

By Country News

High tech sensors, laser scanners and thermal imaging technology are set to call a number of Tatura orchards home, as the Victorian Government’s $12million Internet of Things (IoT) trials move a step closer to getting under way.

Aimed at creating a more digital and data-driven agriculture sector, the project will see as many as 25 orchards across the Tatura district engaged in the first stage of trials.

With trials in grains, sheep and dairy also taking place across the state, the project aims to further explore the applications of technology, data and the internet to agriculture, including using insights from real-time data helping farmers respond to what the market wants.

HV McNab and Son Orchards’ Mitchell McNab, who has been announced as chair of the fruit trial committee, said the project was an opportunity to gain more insight into their business.

‘‘Our orchard and the industry needs to be adopting more technology, and use this technology to make better and more informed decisions,’’ Mr McNab said.

‘‘Hopefully as a result we’re going to grow better fruit and it’s going to enable us to market fruit better, not only in Australia but throughout the world.’’

Producing apples, pears and stonefruit on his Ardmona property, Mr McNab said he hoped the technology would provide him with more insight into crop management, crop loads and ensure even growth, colouring and size of fruit throughout his orchard.

‘‘It’s all about trying to understand what technology we should be trialling and then completing trials and understanding those outcomes so we can then pass that information onto growers and the industry,’’ he said.

Improving efficiency in how food is produced to reduce wastage, expediency to market, and to demonstrate safe and sustainable food to customers, and build the ability to respond to new and emerging technologies and investing in research and development, are also focuses of the project.

Preparation for the start of the trials is expected to continue until the end of the year, with results from the first sample size of 25 farms expected to inform a larger trial of up to 100 farms in the future.