Moree Innovation Hub

Pioneering technology and innovation.

Overview

Lawson Grains and Viridis Ag manage a combined 177,470 hectares of agricultural land across Australia1.

With a focus on achieving more sustainable production of grain and oilseeds, MIRA is supporting both businesses as they trial and deploy new agricultural technologies at their Moree Innovation Hub.

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Sector Agriculture
Established 2019

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Location Moree

Building a culture of innovation

Emerging agricultural technologies offer significant potential to enhance the sustainability and productivity of farming. However, many small agricultural producers are unable to gain an economic return on research and development, instead relying on universities and government research programmes to drive innovation in the sector. In Australia, this dynamic has resulted in a relatively small start-up or incubation culture for agricultural technology in commercial settings.

Recognising the opportunity to leverage their combined scale to trial and deploy new agricultural technologies, MIRA supported Lawson Grains and Viridis Ag as they partnered to create a technology incubation hub near the town of Moree in northern New South Wales.

Established in 2019, the hub operates across Lawson Grain’s Kealandi property and Viridis Ag’s Oodnadatta Farms. Benefiting from considerable farm management expertise and the utilisation of precision agricultural technology, the properties were well suited to pilot new on-farm technologies designed to enhance the production of wheat, barley, cotton, canola, sorghum and chickpeas.

Improving production outcomes

The first programme undertaken at the incubation hub was the trialling of “SwarmFarm” autonomous vehicles for the application of chemicals to broadacre cropping operations.

MIRA supported Viridis Ag and Lawson Grains as they leased a small fleet of autonomous vehicles that can be replaced as robotic technology improves. These robotic vehicles are significantly lighter than traditional spray tractors and use sensor technologies to conduct management practices such as precision weed spraying.

The reduction is beneficial financially and environmentally, with initial testing indicating a 35 per cent reduction in fuel usage compared to large traditional tractor sprayers2. Furthermore, the targeted and timely application of herbicide, pesticide and fertiliser has the potential to reduce overall chemical application. 24/7 operation of lightweight fuel-efficient autonomous vehicles means chemicals can be applied in smaller volumes but at more regular intervals with little to no soil compaction, thereby minimising soil moisture usage by weeds and improving overall soil fertility.

Trials conducted at the incubation hub are being designed and conducted alongside industry bodies to benchmark robotic farming against current farming practices. If successful, the emerging technology could be used at scale by Lawson Grains and Viridis Ag. It may also support the broader sector to evolve skills and manage farms of the future.

Autonomous vehicles are delivering financial and environmental benefits

Accelerating the development of new technology

“We believe that emerging technologies have the potential to transform the way we farm. By bringing the teams at Lawson Grains and Viridis Ag together at the Moree Innovation Hub, we are helping to trial and deploy more sustainable farming practices that could benefit both farmers and the environment in the years ahead.”

 

Sean O'Reilly, Head of Crop Australia

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For more information about our agriculture capabilities, please contact us.

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All information current as at December 2019, unless otherwise stated.

1 As at 31 March 2020

2 Management data