The future of agtech is connected – and sustainable

The future of Australia agtech is connected – and sustainable, according to producer and agronomist Bryan Granshaw, as innovation plays an increasingly important role in the efficiency, productivity and profitability of Australian agriculture

Speaking on the floor of the recent Project Catalyst Forum in Townsville, Granshaw – a sugarcane farmer himself – said there would be more cloud-based data applications in the future, allowing land to be used efficiently and sustainably. 

"We’re very much hoping that things that come out of the project are good for the business and good for the environment.” - Rouse

“There will be more flexibility with moving data,” he said. “From the office to the machine and back again. That’s where I see [data] moving.” 

“Connectivity is where [technology development] is starting to move quicker.” 

Granshaw said agtech provides information which allows producers to make better decisions.

“Instead of treating a field with a blanket application, if we understand that certain areas are underperforming or have more potential, we can actually tailor our blends or fertiliser rates to those particular areas within that paddock,” he said.  

“That gives us a better chance for efficiencies - and we’re maximising the potential of the soil, so there’s less chance for offsite impacts.”


Project Catalyst – a partnership between more than 70 innovative North Queensland sugarcane growers, Natural Resource Management (NRM) groups, the Australian Government, The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and The Coca-Cola Foundation – is developing tangible, local research with a focus on environmental sustainability and productivity.

In January this year the Australian Government announced $A60 million in funding to protect the health of the Great Barrier Reef with a focus in part placed on improving water quality by reducing sediment run-off from local agriculture operations.

And while such a commitment from the government has been widely welcomed by local industry, innovative environmentalists and producers in North Queensland are already collaborating to manage the issue.  


Project Catalyst, now in its tenth year, focuses on supporting cane producer to try new things on their farms, striving towards environmental sustainability.

“WFF are in it because we want to see improved water quality for the Great Barrier Reef,” said Sustainable Agriculture Program Manager at WWF and Project Catalyst lead Andrew Rouse.

“The farmers are in it hopefully for that as well, but also innovation leads to efficiency, greater efficiency leads to greater productivity and greater profitability.”

“We’re very much hoping that things that come out of the project are good for the business and good for the environment.”

Current Project Catalyst trials underway extend from Koumala to Mossman and centre on subsurface mill mud application, monitoring groundwater nitrate, reducing water usage while improving productivity, and minimising nutrient loss from their farms.

Denis Pozzebon, committee member for the Society for Precision Agriculture Australia and a director of Kalamia Cane Growers Association, is part of those trials.

He says application at the paddock level allows for increased protection of Reef – and more efficiency with his products.

“We're part of a project that has been involved in applying automation to irrigation and for scheduling,” he said.

“We can apply our water at the right time in the right the quantity. And we're not sending our water out to the reef to waste sediment, fertiliser and chemical.”

Madeline Swan is an Associate Director, Agri Research Australia at ANZ

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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