Charles Sturt University to build Australia's first automated farm

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Australia’s first-ever ‘hands-free’ farm will be built and developed in a bid to demonstrate the future of farming through robotics and artificial intelligence.

Food Agility Chief Scientist Professor David Lamb, Food Agility CEO Mr Richard Norton, Charles Sturt University Interim Vice-Chancellor Professor John Germov, and Charles Sturt University Chief Operating Officer Mr Rick Willmott

Charles Sturt University (CSU) has partnered with Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre to develop the Global Digital Farm (GDF), which will be built at CSU’s 1900-hectare AgriPark on the Wagga Wagga campus.

The high-tech collaboration will be Australia’s first fully automated commercial farm which, through robotics and artificial intelligence, will aim to create new sustainability and carbon models to further improve farming practices.

To build the Global Digital Farm, the infrastructure including requisite data, telecommunication and other digital technologies, will be constructed over the next three years.

CSU Professor of Food Sustainability Niall Blair says the GDF will provide insights into a range of contemporary technologies beneficial for farming.

"This ambitious and unique project will arm Australia’s primary industries workforce with knowledge and technology in crucial fields like data analytics, geospatial mapping, remote sensing, machine learning and cybersecurity," Blair says.

"The Global Digital Farm will utilise Charles Sturt University’s world-class research and development capability in the agriculture space to help ensure the next generation of Australia’s farmers are at the forefront of innovation.

"Charles Sturt University is delighted to announce and enter into this partnership with Food Agility."

Once built, the GDF will develop and operate technologies such as autonomous robotic tractors, harvesters, drones and surveying equipment as well as artificial intelligence which will make informed decisions on sowing, dressing and harvesting.

CSU will also develop a state of the art cyber-secure environment to establish the best practice of cybersecurity risks associated with modern-day food production.

New sensor technology, which measures interactions between plants, soils and animals, will also be a point of focus, while the GDF will also analyse different carbon management and measurement models and sustainability practices based on evidence.

The GDF will be headed by Food Agility chief scientist, Professor David Lamb. The announcement of the GDF follows previous investment into CSU’s AgriPark with the university announcing $14million for the first stage of capital works at the facility in April while a federal government grant was of $8million – plus another $11.9million from various consortium partners – had also been invested.

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