THE WIMMERA is poised to become an early powerhouse of farming technology.
Longerenong Agricultural College has opened its DATA Farm Innovation Centre this week, after just over a year of construction.
Project manager Bryan Matuschka said over 250 devices and 500 sensors had been added to the Longerenong farm. These will collect more than 30,000 data points each day.
"Longy students will be among the first to be fully trained using this technology, instantly becoming industry leaders and innovators when they graduate," he said.
"What we are gathering from industry is there is a gap in the market in terms of graduates coming up with an understanding of digital agriculture.
"It's going to become more prominent in the industry, so professionals are going to need to get their heads around it because there are going to be farmers out there wanting to implement the technology relying on consultants to help them understand it."
A college spokeswoman said the data collected would help take the guesswork out of many traditional farming processes such as pest control and crop disease prevention or management, and enable more proactive and accurate, evidence-based decision making.
The technology will be integrated into the existing courses offered by the college, and is available for any farmer to come and view at the college.
Mr Matuschka said: "I think there will be people not necessarily in Agriculture that because of the uptake in technology will see this as a niche career pathway now."
He said while grain were the current focus ,the long-term aim was for the DATA Farm to host new technologies relevant to livestock farming also.
Established in 1889, Longerenong college educates more than 300 full-time, apprentice and VET students at any one time.
Victorian Farmers Federation Wimmera president Graeme Maher welcomed the new farm, saying technology literacy was not as high among older farmers in the region.
"When I was at a tertiary institution, computers didn't exist," he said. "We (farmers) have become a lot better at working out what knowledge is useful, and we now analyse agriculture to the nth degree: It's become a whole specialist field."
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Mr Maher has been farming at Lubeck and near the Grampians for 42 years. He said experience with the land remained just as important as new innovations when it came to making accurate decisions in agriculture.
The farm was developed in conjunction with developed in partnership with the Wimmera Development Association, Skillinvest Ltd, Birchip Cropping Group and Grampians Wimmera Mallee Water, and supported by a $2.5 million investment from the Victorian government.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the DATA Farm will take place next year.
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