The University of Southern Queensland’s (USQ) position as a leading agricultural research center was confirmed this week through its affiliation with the Regional Universities Network (RUN) Precision Agriculture Flagship project.

The flagship is the first of its kind in Australia signaling the importance of precision agriculture in delivering environmental, economic and social benefits to regional communities throughout Australia.

“Through our work in practical sensing, and control and automation of farming operations, USQ has long recognized the importance of precision agriculture,” Professor Steven Raine, Executive Director of USQ’s Institute for Agriculture and the Environment, said.

“We are delighted to be part of the Precision Agriculture Flagship project which complements USQ’s Future Farm research to transform Australian agriculture through the application of robotic and automation technologies integrated with big-data analytics,” Professor Raine said.

Future Farm, which is currently being evaluated by the Federal Government, is a multi-million dollar proposal that USQ has developed in collaboration with the Grains Research Development Corporation (GRDC), the Cotton Research Development Corporation (CRDC) and Australia’s CSIRO and seven other university and state-government partners.

“Future Farm is all about delivering technologies that increase farm productivity, reduce costs and enable better management of production and business risks,” Professor Raine said.

USQ’s agricultural research footprint has also been valued by global agricultural equipment and services provider, John Deere through a collaborative partnership to develop new machine automation and control systems that improve agricultural productivity.

Initially, the RUN Precision Agriculture Flagship will establish and fund eight PhD scholarships to be cross-supervised by USQ in conjunction with the three other flagship members, Central Queensland University, Federation University and the University of New England.

The flagship initiative was launched on March 30, by Federal Minister for Agriculture, the Hon Barnaby Joyce MP, as part of the RUN Regional Futures Australia initiative.