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USQ delegation heads to Digital Rural Futures Conference

Mike Keppell will attend the inaugural Digital Rural Futures Conference in NSW this week.
Professor Mike Keppell will attend the inaugural Digital Rural Futures Conference in NSW this week.
University of Southern Queensland (USQ) academics will take part in a national conference this week designed to explore technological opportunities for Australia’s agricultural sector.

The inaugural Digital Rural Futures Conference, hosted by the Regional Universities Network (RUN), will be held at the University of New England in Armidale from 26-28 June.

USQ Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Mark Harvey said the conference was an important forum allowing experts and stakeholders to exchange ideas and discuss opportunities and challenges for the agriculture industry in Australia’s digital economic future.

“Events such as these allow the key research players to meet and identify priorities and potential research collaborations,” Professor Harvey said.

Executive Director of USQ’s Australian Digital Futures Institute (ADFI) Professor Mike Keppell is among the diverse group of speakers including researchers, planners, business leaders, and representatives from farmer stakeholder and regional development groups.

“This conference will examine the sustainability of regional areas into the future – something which digital futures may play a major role in,” Professor Keppell said.

“It’s about setting up conversations and connecting people from different fields across Australia which is critical when setting up comprehensive leading research.

“I will be speaking about digital identity and how people in regional areas use technology to communicate and improve practices.

“One of our strongest research areas is agriculture so it’s essential USQ has a major presence at this conference.”

Also heading to the conference is Director of USQ’s National Centre of Engineering in Agriculture (NCEA) Associate Professor Craig Baillie.

“As a research centre, we need to stake a claim in this field and identify individuals and groups to work with in the future to address emerging problems and take advantage of advancing technology,” Associate Professor Baillie said.

“USQ is involved in precision agriculture research and it’s vital we keep up-to-date with the latest projects and initiatives across the country.”

The conference will feature smart farm technology that monitors soil, livestock and environmental conditions via sensors.

While academics take their research to Armidale this week, researchers and industry stakeholders will head to Toowoomba next year with USQ set to host the 2014 Digital Rural Futures Conference.