AGTECH

Mr PEDERICK (Hammond) (15:02): My question is to the Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development. Can the minister update the house on how the Marshall Liberal government is encouraging agtech innovation in regional South Australia?

The Hon. T.J. WHETSTONE (Chaffey—Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development) (15:02): I thank the member for Hammond for his excellent question. I want to congratulate him on hosting me last Wednesday at Kimbolton winery at Langhorne Creek, where we launched an agtech initiative by Platfarm to digitally monitor and map a lot of the vineyards down at Langhorne Creek, getting ready for some of the innovation and technology that they are putting into those vineyards down there, with the likes of autonomous vehicles and some of the new latest and greatest agtech opportunities.

Also on Wednesday, I had the opportunity to visit the Loxton Research Centre in the Riverland, in the great electorate of Chaffey. It gave me the opportunity to launch the first agtech hub in regional South Australia, a really exciting opportunity for Loxton and for the Loxton Research Centre—it is getting a rebirth. The Marshall Liberal government has seen fit to reinvest in a research facility that has had world acclaim, particularly in water efficiencies within tensiometer initiatives and the agtech that we today are using and that we have exported all around the world.

The opportunity has seen that we now have a partnership with ThincLab, an agtech and food innovation incubator hub at Loxton. The ThincLab is the first-ever regional presence, and we see this as the future step forward in agriculture, particularly in regional South Australia. This is the fifth ThincLab on the globe, and I know that the Minister for Innovation and Skills has been delighted to launch the other ThincLab at the Waite Institute. That sits alongside the ThincLab in Singapore and next to the other ThincLab in Chalons in France, as well as the Adelaide Uni at the Pulteney campus.

That showed that the Marshall Liberal government is prepared to back agriculture, and is prepared to back the innovation and the agtech needed to push forward with growing the ag sector, and also to put us on the front foot. This initiative was an initiative I saw while in my most recent visit to Israel. It highlighted the importance of how South Australia can be the nation's leader in agtech adoption, and it really is an exciting opportunity. We see this as providing the tools, the drive and the innovation ultimately to improve productivity because, if we are going to grow our economy, we are going to need that innovation to drive higher productivity.

While I was there I also launched the government's second agtech demonstration farm, also at Loxton. That is also to help display, show and promote some of the technologies on farm—so it's a working application and also an open-door policy. It shows that this government is prepared to open up government institutions, research and development farms, to the private sector so that they can go in there and adopt more quickly those opportunities that will drive the agtech adoption here in South Australia.

That sits along with the launch over 12 months ago at SARDI's ag research farm at Struan in the South-East. I know that the member for MacKillop was there, and he is very proud of that research institute. It is now open and it has more than 10 agtech businesses down there promoting innovation and the development of agriculture. It is a great initiative on top of what we have just launched at Loxton. Again, the agtech demonstration farms are a game changer but, more importantly, they give an opportunity for our young, our brightest, to be a part of agriculture because we know in the regions #RegionsMatter.

The SPEAKER: Before I call the member for West Torrens, I can advise honourable members, I am informed, that on 26 September 2017 there was a question from the former member for Wright to the member for Mount Gambier about matters regarding those found on a register of interests, so that is in order.