Monash University and Bosch Australia have teamed up to create what they say will be an Australia-first smart agriculture research facility, which will include an agtech launchpad facility and development centre spread over one hectare at Bosch's headquarters in Clayton, Victoria.

The two organisations say the facility will house a prototypical 'smart farm' and enable collaborative industry partnerships and research.

“The space will include cropping trials and early-stage prototype development, enabling the use of artificial intelligence, automation, robotics and advanced sensor technology,” the two organisations said in a statement.

“The facility will also become a key component of food and agriculture innovation at Monash which already includes the Food Innovation Centre, the Food Incubator, and the Australia-China Dairy Manufacturing Centre.”

Monash deputy vice-chancellor and vice-president (enterprise), Ken Sloan, said the facility would leverage the University's close connections to industry and multidisciplinary capabilities across engineering, IT and science, to drive technological advances in agriculture.

“The agtech launchpad could prove instrumental in driving long-term collaborative efforts to address global food security and significantly advance farming practices to safeguard against rising demands,” he said.

Bosch is a lead investor and technology partner of The Yield, an Australian agtech company with a vision to use real-time microclimate data to transform agriculture and food production practices. In October They Yield launched a sensing and predictions system called Sensing+ to help growers make smarter decisions and optimise irrigation.

Bosch Australia has also partnered with another Australian agtech startup, SwarmFarm, to provide engineering and manufacturing services for its autonomous agriculture robotic platform.

President of Bosch Australia, Gavin Smith, said the launchpad would present a myriad of opportunities for collaboration. "Increasingly we see that there is no better place than Australia for ag-tech innovation.”

Victorian minister for agriculture, Jaala Pulford, said the partnership would reinforce Victoria’s standing as “Australia’s premier agriculture state and home of innovation.”

He said the Victorian Labor Government was “transforming Victoria into the smart farming capital of Australia,” noting that the Bosch/Monash partnership followed a $1 million announcement to spearhead agriculture accelerator programs such as SproutX – a pre-accelerator, accelerator and co-working space operator for agtech – $12 million for the internet of things demonstration project and the move to mandatory electronic identification of sheep and goats. (IoT Hub was unable to find further details of the $12 million project).

Pulford said Agriculture Victoria Research was also collaborating with Bosch Australia on research into using cloud-based technologies to make the most of data-rich smart farms for Victorian producers.