The idea of ‘ag tech’ to improve farm operations has been around for many years, with many growers adopting changes to improve input usage and harvest techniques. The Gatton AgTech Showcase showed that the next step is here and commercially viable.

The Gatton AgTech Showcase aimed to bring together horticulture growers, agribusinesses, technology companies, consultants, researchers and students for a festival of technology and innovative ideas.

Held at the Gatton Smart Farm in the Lockyer Valley in November 2023, the event attracted around 1,000 registrations from around the country and overseas, with 50 exhibitors as well as live demonstrations of innovative ag equipment.

Launched in 2021 the Gatton Smart Farm aims to accelerate the adoption of agtech by providing a location and facilities for agricultural research and development for in-field, protected cropping and supply chain systems for turf, tree orchards and vegetable growers.

Working with industry, the VegNET regional development officers of Far North Queensland, Wide Bay Burnett and Victoria and the Lockyer Valley Growers’ Group, the Gatton Smart Farm team recognised that an event such as the Showcase would give horticulture a much-needed boost after the devastating floods in the region in 2022.

Ian Layden, heads up the team at Gatton Smart Farm, host for the Gatton AgTech Showcase. Image courtesy of Queensland Department of Agriculture & Fisheries.

Ian Layden, Director for Vegetables, Systems and Supply Chains with Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, said that the involvement of groups such as the VegNET team and the Lockyer Valley Growers Group gave the event a higher level of success.

“The idea of the Showcase was to have a mix of technologies, to show growers that agtech is not just fully autonomous systems, but that there are options that can introduce growers to the concepts and possibilities that technology can offer agriculture.”

“The interest was strong from the start, as a second day was needed to meet the demand from growers and industry. More than 200 growers from across Australia attended the Gatton AgTech Showcase.”






On display, the Gatton AgTech Showcase live demonstrations included:

  • Flux Robotics Precision Sprayer: uses computer vision software to identify weeds for spraying, drawn by a tractor
  • Stout ‘Smart Cultivator’ with AI Vision: design to cultivate and weed using mechanical blades, drawn by a tractor
  • Robotti Autonomous implement carrier: autonomous tool carrier for field operations
  • Einbock row guard precision guided cultivator: precision inter-row weeder
  • FarmDroid autonomous seeding and weeding: solar powered for seeding and weeding via GPS
  • SwarmFarm robotics autonomous spot sprayer: detects and sprays individual weeds


In addition, researchers brought visitors up to date on the latest research findings on Fall Armyworm, Serpentine Leaf Miner and the use of cover crops for soil health.

“It is a chance to get people onto the Smart Farm to see new ideas, machinery and to engage with colleagues and suppliers to discuss what can be possible, and to see equipment dealing with local conditions firsthand,” said Ian.

“Working with our partners to make sure we had the right mix of displays and exhibitors was invaluable – the feedback we had from growers and exhibitors was phenomenal.

“On the day, you could see the excitement as growers saw the possibilities – it is more than a YouTube clip or a glossy magazine ad from overseas. It is here, it is now, and it is possible to do it.”

From an exhibitor perspective the opportunity to show machinery in action, was challenging but proved invaluable in terms of connecting with growers and developing relationships. For some, it was the first time that the machinery had been demonstrated in Australia, indicating that overseas suppliers are taking note that the Australian market is ready to take the next step in agtech.

Michael Sippel, president of the Lockyer Valley Growers Group, said that as industry grapples with increasing costs, growers need to be more profitable to survive the coming years.

“it makes sense to be more innovative, to break the cycle of business as usual. We live in an age of innovation where digital tech provides solutions to problems before we have even realised it,” he said.

AUSVEG and Onside team up for biosecurity

AUSVEG and Onside teamed up to provide on site biosecurity for Gatton AgTech Showcase

At the Gatton AgTech Showcase 2023, AUSVEG partnered with Onside to demonstrate the ease of adopting best biosecurity practices. The AUSVEG Biosecurity team encouraged attendees to follow on-farm biosecurity best practices using boot scrubbers and walking through footbaths.

“Field days are great events for people to come together and learn about the latest industry innovations. However, they also attract many people from different regions, which increases the risk of introducing new pests, weeds, and diseases. Moreover, it could also increase the risk of unwanted hitchhikers being taken back to other regions and farms,” said Shakira Johnson, Biosecurity Coordinator, AUSVEG.

Attendees were asked to check in using Onside, which recorded all visitors to the site. During the QDAF event, AUSVEG and Onside registered over 500 people on the platform as they walked through footbaths at the event’s entrance. By using the app, attendees participated in the event and actively contributed to protecting the region from the potential spread of pests and diseases by adopting best biosecurity practices.


The Gatton Smart Farm initiative, ‘AS20007 Driving adoption of AgTech across Australia’, is funded by the Hort Frontiers Advanced Production Systems fund. This is part of the Hort Frontiers strategic partnership initiative developed by Hort Innovation, with co-investment from the Queensland Government and contributions from the Australian Government. The Gatton Smart Farm AgTech Showcase is also supported by funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry as part of its Support Regional Trade Events Program