Sunday 20th Oct, 2019

Queensland invests in agricultural upgrades

A team of agricultural robot designers and builders will be recruited as part of the Queensland Government’s Rural Economic Development (RED) Grant.

A team of agricultural robot designers and builders will be recruited as part of the Queensland Government’s Rural Economic Development (RED) Grant.

SwarmFarm, one of the 15 businesses to receive a grant, will use the money to help fund the expansion of its business centre.

Agricultural Industry Development Minister, Mark Furner, said the company was one of the world’s leading agricultural robotics companies positioned to deliver agtech to farming customers to help reduce chemical use, energy consumption and environmental impact.

“With a $250,000 grant, an estimated 15 full-time jobs will be created during the implementation phase of the project, particularly trades such as builders, carpenters, plumbers, painters, electricians and tilers.”

Planning has begun to build an office facility to serve as the SwarmFarm headquarters in Gindie.

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The company has moved to full production following years of research, development and product prototyping.

SwarmFarm Chief Financial Officer, Jocie Bate, said staff needed dedicated space and equipment to support state of the art communication and information technology infrastructure.

“Showcasing agriculture, agtech and serving as an inspiration for future industry participants is vitally important to both the farming community and the nation and a core component of the SwarmFarm values,” Bate said.

“SwarmFarm is all about autonomous application of precision agriculture increasing yields while reducing chemical use, energy consumption and environmental impact. Most importantly, SwarmFarm’s technology allows farmers to implement a step change that removes constraints and delivers fundamentally superior farming businesses.

“The robots will have direct benefit to primary production in terms of delivering new farming practices that lead to higher efficiencies, increased yields and better environmental stewardship.”

Another Queensland business to benefit from the scheme is a North Burnett horticulture produce, which is set to build a new pre-packaging and quick chill facility.

Dermark is one of the state’s leading citrus providers, supplying supermarkets like Coles and Woolworths, while also exporting to China, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong and the UAE.

“This $250,000 grant will go towards establishing an on-farm pre-packing and quick-chill facility in Gayndah which is well known for its citrus production,” Furner said.

Owner Sandy McLay said having a local pre-packing plant would save producers time and money on getting their produce from the farm to supermarket shelves.

“The Wide Bay and Burnett region doesn’t currently have a pre-packing, automated sorting or quick chilling facility. Producers are trucking their produce to a competitor in Brisbane which is over four hours away,” McLay said.

“With Government partnering developments like this it will help cement our regional communities and allow further expansion of our industries along with reducing our carbon footprint and producing opportunities for our children.

“We will be able to grow, pick, sort, pack and chill all our produce independently and within 12 hours allowing our product to be as fresh as it can be when it hits supermarket shelves.”

Queensland’s State Budget has locked in funding for the remaining rounds of the program, taking the total amount of grants available to $10 million.

Funding for Round two of the RED Grants will be announced later this year.