Palaszczuk Government backs school science project giving growers a taste of future farming
Published Tuesday, 20 June, 2017 at 07:09 AM
Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch
An innovative Sunshine Coast school is using cutting-edge agricultural technologies to give local farmers a taste of the future of Queensland farming, thanks to Palaszczuk Government Advance Queensland funding.
Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy Leeanne Enoch said Beerwah’s Glasshouse Christian College received an Advance Queensland Engaging Science Grant for its AgriTech project involving students, local fruit and vegetable growers, state-of-the-art remote sensing technologies and drones.
“The project involves years 10 and 11 agricultural science students working with local farmers, using advanced imaging technologies loaded onto drones that can give detailed assessments of farming lands, including soil condition, water management issues and crop health,” Ms Enoch said.
“This project not only allows students to learn how these technologies work in practice and gives them the chance to work with experts in their field, but the project can also help local farmers improve land management through precision agriculture.”
The school’s Head of Agriculture Jade King said the project was preparing students for a future where technology and science, including advanced computing and UAVs, will become common place in modern agriculture.
“The aim is to encourage students’ curiosity so they can see the place technology can play in modern agriculture and in that way entice them to look to STEM as a future career path.
“We’ve been out to five local farms, working with macadamia, custard apple, pineapple, strawberry and ginger producers as well as drone operators and remote-sensing experts.
“We’re using three different remote-sensing technologies, giving us really detailed profiles on the properties”.
Mrs King said the students identify where crops might be under stress, try and find out why, and then come up with management options farmers could consider as possible solutions with the assistance of an agronomist and research scientists.
As part of the project, they will present their findings to the farmers and farming industry bodies like Growcom and the Australian Macadamia Society.
“We hope to make this a perpetual plan, whereby each year, Year 10 and 11 agricultural science students will learn the imaging processes with drones and then work in the community as school-based consultants for local agricultural industry,” she said.
Beerwah strawberry and ginger grower John Allen said he found the project a huge learning experience.
“It has given me a lot to think about. It’s certainly an excellent management tool, which I’d like to do more with. I’ll definitely continue to work with the school, because I can see the benefits of this technology,” he said.
Queensland Chief Scientist Professor Suzanne Miller said the Advance Queensland Engaging Science Grants program was designed to stoke interest in science and get more people in the community involved in science activities and events.
“It’s all about hands-on science – showing the community the value of science and technology and encouraging our kids to consider STEM as future career paths,” Professor Miller said.
Ms Enoch said the grants program had supported 49 recipients sharing in more than $480,000 over two rounds, with Glasshouse Christian College receiving $10,000.
Round three applications closed earlier this month (2 June). For more information on the Engaging Science Grants program, visit advance.qld.gov.au/ESG.
Advance Queensland is the Palaszczuk Government’s $420 million whole-of-government flagship initiative driving innovation across the state and turning great ideas into new products, businesses and jobs.
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