Opening more than 50 years ago, the University of Southern Queensland’s Centre for Agricultural Engineering (CAE) remains the only university program in Australia to offer agricultural engineering, securing a firm foothold in the growing AgTech industry.
Centre Director Professor Craig Baillie said in recent decades the access to technology for the farming sector had changed dramatically and encouraged a new wave of interest from students and researchers alike.
“I’m an agricultural engineer and it’s the access to technology and farm equipment and design that excited me about a career in this space,” Professor Baillie said. “What these new technologies allow is also to excite others that might come into the industry that might not have an agricultural background,” he said. “We have folk within our research centre who have a background in mechatronics engineering so traditionally they wouldn’t have been in agriculture so all of a sudden agriculture is a lot more interesting to a lot more people which opens up more opportunities.”
One such opportunity at the Toowoomba-based CAE is the one-hectare field enclosure that allows students and academics to conduct research at a commercial scale to test new technologies before deploying them in the field. “Normally we have to travel a distance to do work in the field but now we can do some of that work here on campus and get students involved as well,” Professor Baillie said.
The site is currently being utilised heavily to assist in the development of technologies informing precision agriculture with the help of one of the largest self-propelled sprayers available in Australia thanks to a research agreement with tractor manufacturer, John Deere.
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