CQUniversity’s Precision Horticulture team is focussed on improving the productivity and profitability of Queensland’s major horticultural commodities.
Horticulture currently contributes more than $2 billion to the Queensland economy and by working in partnership with the Queensland Department of Agriculture & Fisheries, the research team is aiming to deliver innovative future farming practices that have the potential to make a substantial impact on the state economy.
It is no coincidence that the Precision Horticulture team is based in Bundaberg, Australia’s second largest horticultural crop production region, with our team working directly with the sweet potato, chilli and tomato industries.
Led by Professor Phil Brown, the Precision Horticulture team is also supporting international development through a sweet potato production and marketing project in Papua New Guinea, and horticultural supply chain research in the Pacific Islands.
The scope of work ranges from crop agronomy to high-tech solutions including the use of drones to measure crop status indicators with data flowing through to online management support tools.
Supporting commercial sweet potato production and marketing in the PNG Highlands
Advanced Management Decision Tool for Tropical Protected Cropping Systems
Non-lethal deterrent of Flying Foxes and Rainbow Lorikeets from Lychee Orchards with UAVs
Developing biocontrol fungi agents to manage root-knot nematode in ginger.
Specialist research skills:
- Production practices for tropical environments
- Assessing the cost-effectiveness of innovations in structures and production practices
- Plant and pest physiology
- Crop agronomy and production practices
- Farmer training and support to obtain higher value markets
- Non-lethal deterrent of flying foxes and rainbow lorikeets with UAVs
- Drone-based crop sensing for biomass, yield, crop water status and early detection of pests and diseases
- Advanced management decision support tools
- Plant parasitic nematode management in vegetable crops
- Automated pest insect monitoring systems.
Following the removal of chemical nematicide products from the market in recent years due to concerns about toxicity impacting on human and environmental health, the agricultural industry and in particular the sweet potato industry has become increasingly threatened by the invasion of the root-knot nematode (RKN).
CQUniversity recently did its bit to ensure that new innovations continue to redefine the agriculture sector, not just through agricultural research but by educating the next generation of innovators. CQUniversity research fellow in Horticultural Farming Systems Dr Chengyuan (Stephen) Xu, along with a team of colleagues have collaborated with local high schools, Bundaberg Christian College and St Luke’s Anglican School, to provide students with an opportunity to learn about cutting-edge technologies in the agriculture industry.
Northern Australia is poised to create Australia’s own spice trail. There are plans to grow a condiment industry as part of a new Cooperative Research Centre for Developing Northern Australia (CRCNA) project, involving CQUniversity. The $1.2 million spice cropping project will see five crops taken from small to large-scale production within three years, under the leadership of CQUni researcher Dr Surya Bhattarai.
CQUniversity has partnered with the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries to enable a group of Papua New Guinean farmers to get behind the scenes of Wide Bay's sweet potato industry, helping the visitors upgrade their own operations to a commercial level. Senior Research Officer Kirt Hainzer says the visit also included a special cooking demonstration at Bundaberg's HSG at the Gardens Restaurant, to promote alternative ways of preparing sweet potato back in PNG.
A commitment to making a difference to agriculture in developing countries has been awarded a prestigious fellowship for CQUniversity’s Dr Shahla Hosseini Bai. Dr Hosseini Bai is currently completing a John Dillon Fellowship provided by the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR), which is awarded to top researchers to develop their leadership skills in research management, agricultural policy and extension technologies.
Sweet potato growers have shown their eagerness for new insights into controlling the costly problem of root-knot nematodes (RKN) following a treatment assessment trial by CQUniversity Australia and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.
The commercialisation of Papua New Guinea's sweet potato crop will be supported by CQUniversity's Institute for Future Farming Systems thanks to a $5 million project.