The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) has announced the launch of the Future Food Systems Cooperative Research Centre that with develop smart logistics to link growers with their markets and high-tech methods of growing customised food.
The Future Food Systems CRC will involve more than 50 commercial and research partners, with the Federal Government injecting $35 million in funding over 10 years along with almost $150 million in support from the research centre’s educational and commercial participants.
Professor Doug Baker said QUT’s involvement in the CRC will be spread across the centre’s three research and development programs of planning and logistics in linking growers to their markets, developing smart automated indoor cropping and creating nutrient-dense foods and hybrid food and medical goods tailored to growing domestic and export markets.
Professor Baker will lead the research program into logistics and urban design that will identify planning policy, design and infrastructure for integrating high-tech growing and processing facilities, particularly around transport hubs and in regional centres.
“It’s about being smarter with agriculture and infrastructure, and integrating technology and robotics into that,” he said.
“Working with local and state governments and our logistics partners, our planning templates and freight modelling tools will assist food hubs around Australia as they develop sustainable production and supply solutions.”
Dr Chris Lehnert, a robotics researcher with the Vision headquartered at QUT, will be working on developing robotics and smart technology for vertical and indoor protected cropping with a range of commercial partners including Greenbio Group.
“The future potential of robotics in indoor protected cropping will be their ability to intelligently sense, think and act in order to reduce production costs and maximise output value in terms of crop yield and quality,” Dr Lehnert said.
“Robotics taking action, such as autonomous harvesting within indoor protected cropping will be a game changer for growers who are struggling to reduce their production costs.”
CRC Chair and National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson said the Cooperative Research Centre model was ideal for addressing industry growth challenges that demand sustained collaboration and complex transdisciplinary research.
“The next growth phase in our industry demands strategic adoption of advanced science and technology across production, logistics, energy, water, and manufacturing,” she continued.
“We have the talent in Australia to become a global leader both in future food technology and future food goods,” she said.