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Professor awarded Fulbright scholarship to identify technology game-changers in global agriculture

USQ Professor Craig Baillie has been awarded a 2019 Fulbright Scholar Award to identify game-changing technology developments and strengthen collaborative research opportunities between Australia and the USA.

The prestigious scholarship, awarded through the Australian-American Fulbright Commission, will allow Professor Baillie to spend four months based at College Station, Texas in 2019, working with Texas A&M University and other research institutions.

Professor Baillie, Director of USQ’s Centre for Agricultural Engineering, has been focusing his research efforts on automation in agriculture, including an emerging array of agricultural technologies such as sensors, machine learning analytics and robotics that will inform future opportunities to improve on-farm productivity and profitability.

His Fellowship will build on identifying research gaps needed to facilitate the next generation of technologies, as well as deepening relationships with current research partners including Texas A&M University, Iowa State University and John Deere.

“The aim of this Fellowship is to identify game-changing technology developments that will lead to the next revolution in agriculture and identify collaborative research opportunities with US-based research partners that will make this happen,” Professor Baillie said.

“The potential impacts of the implementation of digital technologies in agriculture on the Australian economy is estimated to be more than $20 billion, however, the adoption has been underwhelming. This questions the relevancy of particular technologies and the validity of current developments in agtech”.

To a large extent, Australian farmers are reliant on agricultural technologies developed in other parts of the world and in particular the USA.

Although Australian farmers are highly innovative and regarded as early adopters of technology, Australian agriculture is often the recipient at the end of the technology pipeline.

Professor Baillie said there was an opportunity to reverse this scenario by developing and incubating new technologies in Australia for a global market.

A successful example of this includes the GPS Autosteer, which has revolutionised modern farming practices.

“This scholarship will allow me to review and assess current research and emerging technologies being undertaken by US research institutions and appraise how well these technologies are targeted to meet future needs,” Professor Baillie said.

“This will inform a roadmap for future research and technology development initiatives and initiate collaborative research between USQ and US-based research partners for next-generation agtech in Australia.”

Professor Baillie envisions the project will be a critical and an initial component to establishing an agricultural technology research and development ecosystem between Australia and the USA. 

“This will provide a channel for Australian and US businesses to engage and cooperate in international markets and global supply chains in agricultural technology,” he said.

“There are significant opportunities to improve profitability through more precise management of farming inputs, both at the field scale and for the farming enterprise. Emerging technologies will inform a potential step change needed in agriculture to meet future demands.”

The Fulbright Program is the flagship foreign exchange scholarship program of the United States of America, aimed at increasing bilateral research collaboration, cultural understanding, and the exchange of ideas.

View the 2019 Fulbright Scholars here.

Man standing next to farm equipment
Professor Craig Baillie