SUPPORTING OUR FARMERS: Member for Lowan Hugh Delahunty and Wimmera Development Association executive director Jo Bourke believe a $45,000-remote agricultural data use project will identify training opportunities and ways farmers can benefit from new technologies. Pictures: PAUL CARRACHERWIMMERA Development Association has received $45,000 from the State Government for a remote agricultural data use project.

Association executive director Jo Bourke said the money for the 12-month project was welcome.

“We will be doing some work with the Victorian Farmers Federation and the Birchip Cropping Group,” Ms Bourke said.

“We will be putting out a survey to farmers and the agronomy sector to give us more detailed information about what kinds of data and technologies are already being used.

“This project is to prepare for the roll-out of the National Broadband Network, but also to identify where there are skill gaps.”

Ms Bourke said an inquiry into the capacity of the farming sector to attract and retain young people found that the use of technology was one way of attracting people to the industry.

“People are marketing from the tractor or truck these days and many agronomists are taking mobile phones and iPads out to their paddocks,” she said.

“This project will examine how those sorts of uses might evolve and I’m sure will also show us where there are gaps in mobile phone signals.”

Member for Lowan Hugh Delahunty said agriculture had a large influence on the economic and employment fortunes of the region.

“The government is pleased to provide funding that will help the region to understand current and future information and communications technology needs for the farming sector,” he said.

“This project will help us better understand where skill and technology gaps are and how organisations and individual farmers share knowledge.

“We can’t always get experts onto the farm, but technology can help link experts to the Wimmera and provide training opportunities.”

Ms Bourke said a focus group would begin work in the next two to three months, with workshops in March or April 2013.

She said the project was funded through the government’s $1-billion Regional Growth Fund Putting Locals First Program.

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