The future landscape of agricultural technology will be explored at an upcoming Smart Farms Tour presented by the University of Southern Queensland’s (USQ) National Centre for Engineering in Agriculture (NCEA).


The NCEA has been a leader in agricultural innovation for 20 years and develops solutions for a sustainable and profitable rural sector, focusing on sustainable agriculture, energy use, water resources and food security.

The Smart Farms Tour, to be held June 27, will showcase the centre’s latest innovations and give attendees a preview of emerging technologies in the agriculture industry.

Technologies to be demonstrated as part of the tour include: real-time interaction with on-farm data provided by mobile augmented reality; smart weed spot sprayers, unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and irrigation machines; and a remote guided tour of an irrigated farm instrumented with on-farm sensors.

NCEA Director Associate Professor Craig Baillie said while agricultural field days tend to present products that can be used immediately, this tour concerns the future of agricultural innovation.

“We want to provoke thought about what the industry will look forward to in the coming years,” he said.

“The technologies and concepts on show at the Smart Farm Tour may still be in development and this event gives industry stakeholders a sneak peak.

“We want them to view our progress, understand how agriculture technology might look in the next five to ten years, and also bring in ideas that can build on the work we have done.”

Associate Professor Baillie said the future of agriculture technology is an exciting area of research and development.

“We are already moving into a time where farmers are incorporating technology such as sensors to monitor factors such as crop health, soil, water and nutrients spatially across a field,” he said

“But we want to take that information and create intelligent systems where raw data is analysed, interpreted, prioritised and provided to producers automatically.

“A number of the technologies we will be showcasing will be along that thinking, exploring how digital advancements and connectivity will impact agricultural industries.

“For example, we’ll patch live to our field site to view an automated irrigation system with sensors mounted on a centre pivot.

“These sensors check machine performance and monitor crop response, adjusting automatically as necessary.”

The Smart Farms Tour forms part of the USQ hosted 2014 Digital Rural Futures Conference.