A Brisbane CBD school is leading the charge in future proofing the agriculture industry

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The future of agriculture is changing, being driven by a collaborative, multidisciplinary approach combining math, science and computers with agriculture that is engaging the future generation more than ever.
Corinda State High School, in the heart of Brisbane’s CBD, is rethinking the future of agriculture through their innovative smart farm which is taking part in AgriFutures Australia Producer Technology Uptake Program (PTUP).

The AgriFutures Australia program is designed to work with existing producer groups and networks, who know and understand the needs of producers in their region and have a desire to increase digital literacy and technology uptake on-farm.

In February 2022, the program expanded to include eligible agricultural high schools, providing the opportunity to apply for up to $20,000 funding to develop a bespoke activity or project that will build students’ knowledge and understanding of technology adoption and use on-farm.

Next gen smart farm evolution

Corinda State High School is one of 11 successful schools to receive program funding, which has enabled them to further progress their smart farm.
The farm is prioritised as a learning hub where students design, build and test their concepts towards developing the critical skills and passion linked to future employment in the agricultural sector.

Students can gain exposure and work in niche areas of agriculture, allowing them to apply their learnings in areas including animal nutrition, ag tech creation, weed and disease management, and data analysis.

Deputy Principal, Tom Bates said, “the aim of the program was to provide the students with an understanding of what the future of ag looks like and to teach them it’s more than patting a cow or planting a tree.

“When we started the program, we only had one junior and one senior class. We now have one class across each year level, with students also electing to use lunch breaks and after school hours to be on the farm.”

The school’s project is focused on a student-centric approach, for them to work collaboratively with one another, to drive their learning, understanding and development of technology and agritech devices. In addition, the project is teaching students about the need to be highly skilled and understand the role of technology in the future of agriculture.

The students started with two LoRaWAN networks that gather data from a range of sensors including a weather station, soil and moisture sensors, Micro Greenhouse station, Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) monitoring station and sap flow metres. Now the school has 13 LoRaWAN networks which is enabling the students to gather on-farm data for the purpose of increasing productivity and sustainability.

Student-led agritech solutions

“The AgriFutures Australia PTUP funding has enabled us to get more equipment to expand the program as well additional support from staff to help run it”, Mr Bates explained.

Having these resources and facilities has provided students the unique experience to see the future of agriculture from a young age.

“I can’t keep up with their ideas now” said Mr Bates, “the students are now teaching me, as they are continuously presenting ideas with data driven solutions.”

Corinda State High School is one of many success stories from the PTUP when it comes to bridging the gap between opportunity and tech solutions, which is driving the future of agriculture through innovation.

Mr Bates said he is proud of the students and their innovative thinking. “Having the students see the outputs and the people that want to be involved is eye opening. We have the Federal Minister for Agriculture coming to visit the school to check out the smart farm which validates the program and the work we’ve done to date.”

Corinda State High School aims to build more simple devices to gather data across the farm and introduce artificial intelligence (AI) to interpret the data and deliver solutions real time. As a result of collecting on-farm data their goal is to link students with farmers across multiple sectors to share learnings to support uptake of agritech solutions in business practices.

PTUP enables participants to work directly with well-connected producer groups who know and understand their local producers’ needs including the key gaps in their knowledge, skills and experience that prevent them from implementing agritech innovation. In total the program has successfully engaged 56 producer groups and 11 agricultural high schools, directly impacting 2,700 producers nationally, across many industries and enterprise sizes.

To find out more about the PTUP program visit: AgriFutures Australia Producer Technology Uptake Program (PTUP).

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