CQUniversity awarded grant to smarten ag supply chains
CQUniversity has been awarded $200,101 to research technology for improving meat ‘traceability’ and agricultural data collection.
The grant comes from the Federal Government’s Traceability Grants Program for exporters and will fund the development and trial of items like smart-tags that track various aspects of the beef industry’s supply chain.
Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said better data meant better animal welfare and meat quality.
“This research looks at how smart-tags technology can be used in traceability, linking pre-farm gate management with the results obtained at processing,” he said.
“It involves a review of how smart-tags can be used to detect disease and management issues, and a case study to inform how this data can be employed for industry.
“While there is a commercial drawback to diseases, given that they ultimately result in carcass downgrades, any incentive to improve the health and welfare of our animals can only be a positive.”
Mr Littleproud said the research would also help to address strong consumer demand for transparency.
“On-animal sensors or smart-tags is an emerging technology and we’re only just learning the full extent of how it can benefit the red meat industry,” he said.
“We already use sophisticated ear tags in the form of the NLIS, so this research can be used to improve and expand a product that is already in use.
“Whether it’s through developing blockchain technology to assist with food safety, an app to track kangaroo meat harvesting, or a DNA database to combat illegal logging, these round two projects will give Aussie exporters the competitive edge.”
CQU Associate Professor Mark Trotter said the development of digital infrastructure and tools for the agricultural industry was a “really critical issue”, and aside from smart-tags, producers would benefit from long-range Wi-Fi and cloud connectivity.
He said regional areas and workers would be at the forefront of agricultural digitisation.
“These are tech jobs,” he said. “So we really need smart, young people coming into our industry to be able to pick up and assist producers.”
Mr Trotter said the grant was “a great way to celebrate and showcase all that’s great about Australian Beef and Rockhampton”.