Agriculture For The Future

Written by: JCU Connect | June 1, 2020

James Cook University (JCU) has a long history of collaborating with industry to co-design innovative solutions to industry problems. As the world faces economic uncertainty, JCU Connect is committed to continuing its support of regional partnerships – connecting businesses with a diverse range of JCU research and development expertise and unique facilities across Townsville, Cairns and Singapore.

The Federal Government Innovation Connections program helps businesses to understand their research needs, connect with the research sector and funds eligible research and development projects. JCU has engaged in this program, supporting businesses in various sectors to identify problems and develop solutions with the help of University research expertise. The strength of the program is in its adaptability, flexibility, and capacity to add direct value to business needs.

Bio-Gene improving production through tree improvement and engineering solutions

Bio-Gene Technology, an Australian AgTech company enabling the next generation of novel insecticides, engaged in the Innovation Connections program following previous research successes with JCU. JCU Researcher, Professor Yinghe He and his team developed data logging and instrumentation systems that involved implementation of an on-site experimentation program at the Bio-Gene farm on the Atherton Tablelands. Seeking product development through collaboration, Bio-Gene continues to engage with JCU, focusing on improving the oil extraction process, working alongside researchers and students, and creating jobs through the process of innovation.

Tattykeel using research to validate healthy eating quality of their product


“With food quality and food security among the leading topics of Australia’s agriculture agenda, some Australian farmers are focused on breeding quality livestock for the future.”


Tattykeel, famous for their quality Poll Dorset sheep, successfully developed and launched the Australian White sheep breed in 2011. The Australian White was specifically developed from four breeds, incorporating selective line breeding to enhance positive traits of fast growth rate, minimal maintenance and superior eating quality. Tattykeel engaged JCU’s expert animal nutritionist and geneticist, Associate Professor Aduli Malau-Aduli, to understand the breed’s excellent eating qualities on a scientific level. The tests revealed that the meat of the Tattykeel line of Australian Whites had natural marbling, a lower melting point than other sheep breeds and was a source of Omega-3. Tattykeel, together with JCU, accessed Innovation Connections to identify the best lines of animals for eating quality and prove that the quality remains heritable. The JCU / Tattykeel engagement, sparked through the Innovation Connections program, is a true example of a partnership where industry benefits from university research expertise. Industry-University collaboration is key to driving innovation and helping to keep Australia’s agriculture and export sector thriving.

Agriculture Technology and Adoption Centre helping solve the sectors problems

The global population will rely on the tropics as a stable source of food and water into the future.


“The agriculture sector is predicted to become Australia’s next $100billion industry by 2030, with global food production at its core.”


JCU has recently established the Agriculture Technology and Adoption Centre. With a focus on Northern Australia, the Centre is established to help coordinate multidisciplinary research, engaging with industry and government to ensure Northern Australia’s agricultural industries remain globally competitive, sustainable and an exemplar for other countries in the Asia-Pacific.

JCU’s Head of Engineering, Daniel Christie, says the Centre will focus on agriculture in Northern Australia and how technology use and adoption can advance and support the Northern Australia agriculture industry to build and remain globally competitive.

“The Centre recognises that adoption of technology is much more than just technology availability and has considerations across connectively, skills and a way to fund and transition through new financing methods and models,” he said.

Technology offers an important opportunity to bring economic benefits to rural and regional communities, promising to improve productivity, quality and yield, enhanced sustainability, reduced wastage and the ability for farmers to make better decisions leading to increased value and returns.

With a focus on the future of agriculture, JCU Connect will continue to build relationships with the sector to drive development of innovation across the country.

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