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SuniTAFE SMART Farm has collaborated with a number of partners throughout the Mallee region to conduct research projects to address key challenges facing the industry today and in the future. Read more about some of the current projects happening at SMART Farm:


Sensand


Under the Workforce Training Innovation Fund (WTIF), the SuniTAFE SMART Farm has collaborated with the Mallee Regional Innovation Centre (MRIC) to trial an innovative data integration initiative with Sensand Technologies. 

The aim of the product trial is to address a pressing challenge.  The trial involves the use of decision-making tools that utilise the breadth and depth of available data, collected from multiple sources.
 

Sensand Technologies has developed a current generation software to provide farming enterprises with the capability to seamlessly integrate the full range of data that relates to farming practice.  

This includes:

  • Web-based data sources such the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) weather forecasting systems
  • Sensor-based data from multiple Internet of Things (IoT) devices, such as soil moisture monitoring, and others installed at the SuniTAFE SMART Farm
  • Irrigation system controls and monitors
  • Agronomic data on production levels and yields by location
  • Aerial data on multiple variables, including water deficit, disease risk etc.
  • Financial data at various scales
 

Disease trial


A trial on disease management is being conducted to enhance adoption of technology for the control of 3 vineyard foliage diseases; Powdery Mildew, Downy Mildew and Botrytis.  The test stock is Chardonnay.  

The overall goal is to spray according to the disease risk and the trial includes:

 

Powdery Mildew 

  • Monitor Powdery Mildew activity
  • Confirm best practice published spray programs
  • Verify spray equipment efficiency and effectiveness
  • Test the adoption of the “Grow Care Model” as an effective tool for controlling Powdery Mildew
  • Evaluate the “Grow Care” app as an effective tool for control of Powdery Mildew
  • Over time, eliminate Powdery Mildew from the vineyard and test to see if possible in this situation
  • Provide training to students, industry and teachers 

Downy Mildew

  • (Conditional on weather conditions suitable for a disease outbreak)
  • Monitor Downy Mildew activity
  • Confirm best practice published spray programs
  • Verify spray equipment efficiency and effectiveness
  • Test the adoption of the “Grow Care Model” as an effective tool for controlling Downy Mildew
  • Evaluate the “Grow Care” app as an effective tool for control of Downy Mildew
  • Provide training to students, industry and teachers 

Botrytis 

  • Monitor the vineyard for Botrytis potential
  • Demonstrate a simple test that can determine the risks to growers of Botrytis in a season
  • Investigate strategies that will lower the risk of an outbreak
  • Evaluate the “Grow Care Model” as an effective tool for predicting Botrytis risks in the vineyard
  • Investigate strategies for the control of Botrytis with minimal chemical residue limits
  • Adopt vineyard procedures for monitoring Botrytis and other bunch rots
  • Demonstrate the use of these monitoring procedures for determining the most effective spray timing
  • Provide training to students, industry and teachers 
 

Fruit fly


The SuniTAFE SMART Farm has installed 4 trial RapidAIM Internet of Things (IoT) sensor technology traps as part of the Greater Sunraysia Pest Free Fruit Fly Zone Project.  Real-time information and data is being collected via traps, which are digital insect pest surveillance for the targeted control of Queensland fruit fly. 

Fruit fly has become a major problem in the Sunraysia region with direct impacts on the table grape, citrus and stone fruit industries.  The trial has extended benefits to the community and industry.
 

Industrial Hemp


SuniTAFE is now the first Victorian educational facility to be granted a license to grow industrial hemp.  Victorian Agriculture Minister The Hon. Jaclyn Symes visited the farm in October 2020 to officiate the commencement of plantings.  The project includes a 2 year research and development program featuring time of sowing trials and varieties suited to our environment. 

In conjunction with Australian Primary Hemp, existing equipment and infrastructure was used to plant the first hemp trial in November and December 2020 at the SuniTAFE SMART Farm.  1 hectare (Ha) of Carina vines was cleared and overhead sprinklers were reinstated to plant 3 varieties of hemp (CFX, CFS and Finola) seed provided by Australian Primary Hemp:
 
  • CFX: at a rate of 40kg/Ha over 0.25 Ha mid-November
  • CFS: at a rate of 20kg/Ha over 0.25 Ha late November 
  • Finola: at a rate of 10kg/Ha over 0.5 Ha mid-December