Monash University and Bosch Australia have unveiled plans to establish a first-of-its-kind ag-tech facility in Melbourne’s southeast that will develop new smart farming techniques including automated harvesting, sensing networks and driverless vehicles.
Occupying one hectare at Bosch’s headquarters in Clayton, the facility will house a prototypical ‘smart farm’ and will enable collaborative industry partnerships and research.
The space will also include cropping trials and early-stage prototype development, enabling the use of artificial intelligence, automation, robotics and advanced sensor technology.
Monash Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Enterprise), Ken Sloan said the facility was expected to address the growing challenges faced by the agriculture sector, which is forecast to become the biggest industrial sector by 2050.
“This Monash-Bosch collaboration represents our shared capabilities in agriculture technology and creates the opportunity to lead future advancement of the ag-tech sector – the next big growth industry for Australia,” Mr. Sloan said.
“With rising temperatures and rapid population growth requiring food production to double by mid-century – it’s clear we need major innovations in how we eat and farm. We need inventions to increase yields, nutrient quality and sustainability of our food production to cope with the world demand and climate.”
“The ag-tech launch-pad could prove instrumental in driving long-term collaborative efforts to address global food security and significantly advance farming practices to safeguard against rising demands.”
Bosch, which has had a presence in Australia since 1907, has increasingly focused on agricultural solutions and is a lead investor and technology partner of The Yield, an Australian ag-tech company with a vision to use real-time microclimate data to transform agriculture and food production practices.
The company has also teamed up with SwarmFarm, another Australian ag-tech start-up, to provide engineering and manufacturing services for its autonomous agricultural robotic platform.
President of Bosch Australia, Gavin Smith, said the facility will become a key component of food and agricultural innovation at Monash which already includes the Food Innovation Centre, the Food Incubator, and the Australia-China Dairy Manufacturing Centre.
“Increasingly we see that there is no better place than Australia for ag-tech innovation. The establishment of the launch pad by Monash at our facility in Clayton will present a myriad of opportunities for collaboration,” he concluded.