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Innovative R&D Lightens Load For Farmers

Innovative R&D Lightens Load For Farmers

2 August 2002

An innovative system that allows tractors to practically drive themselves, eliminates overlapping and will provide huge cost-savings to farmers was launched in Toowoomba by the Federal Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane.

The Arro system, developed by Brisbane-based BEELINE Technologies with the help of a $1.4 million Federal Government R&D Start grant, means farmers can go "hands-free" as global positioning system (GPS) technology guides the tractor across the paddock.

"BEELINE Technologies are market leaders when it comes to innovative farming methods and it’s technology like this that puts Australia on the world stage. They have an international benchmark in smart farming that other countries are rushing to catch up with, the system has huge export potential," said Mr Macfarlane.

"For a small business - taking an innovative idea through the research and development phase can be a huge financial impost until the commercialisation benefits start to flow. That’s why the Federal Government, through its businesses assistance unit AusIndustry, had a hand in developing this product with the R&D Start grant," he said.

One Australian farmer who is already using the Arro system on his 14,000ha farm is saving about $13 a hectare by eliminating the overlap created by human error. The new method will pay for his investment within four years.

When farmers drive backwards and forwards across a paddock overlapping occurs with each pass. Eliminating this overlapping can reduce farm costs (excess usage of fuel and seed) by 10 to 15 per cent. In addition it reduces paddock soil compaction, which in turn promotes plant and soil health and can improve yeild by between 15 and 40 per cent.

"Australian business has always been very innovative so, like BEELINE, it’s good to see an increasing number of companies taking advantage of R&D programs provided by the Federal Government," said Mr Macfarlane.

More than 600 innovative Australian companies are now being matched dollar for dollar with Federal funding for their R&D under the Start program. Recently released Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show that business expenditure on research and development has jumped by 18 per cent over the last financial year.


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