Early on a weekday morning, as the sun is rising and most people are still rubbing their eyes, the students of Bundaberg Christian College’s Hoof n Hook Program are hard at work, washing and brushing cattle in preparation for their next regional show.
There’s no doubt the hands-on experience of handling and judging live cattle is preparing these future leaders for a promising career in the agriculture industry. Past students are sought after and recognised by industry leaders.
But it’s the innovative and integrated use of technology at the College’s agriculture farm that is equipping students to apply their digital skills to solve real-world farming challenges.
Students are using mounted cameras in the school’s agriculture precinct to detect magpie geese and map their patterns of movement. Combining time-lapsed images and an algorithm to identify the geese, students learned the geese were most active out of school hours when things on the farm were quieter. They could then tailor and test their deterrence solutions.
In recognition of this work, the College was invited by the CSIRO to join a pilot of their Microsoft FarmBeats for Students program, a STEM initiative encompassing artificial intelligence, data and machine learning.
Head of the College’s Technologies Faculty Peter Sercombe said technology in agriculture was a career path ripe for harvest.
“There are so many opportunities in ag-tech and it’s an area ready for lots of innovation. Technology is traditionally a subject taught indoors so to see students build something and then get their hands dirty by testing it on the farm is really rewarding,” Peter said.
In other technology and agriculture projects, the College partnered with Central Queensland University to use drone technology to map irrigation issues on the school oval.
Head of Science and PE Faculty, Hoof n Hook mentor, and long serving teacher Bob Hibbard said Bundaberg was an exciting place for agriculture students.
“It’s wonderful to get students out of the classroom and discover how their learning has real-world farming application,” Bob said.
“Agriculture will continue to be a critical industry and our students in Bundaberg have a unique opportunity to understand how they can make a positive contribution to agriculture in Australia.”
For these emerging Bundaberg Christian College leaders, their future in technology and agriculture, is a wide open space.