Agrifood and Wine

Rising labour costs, increasing regulatory burdens, energy sector transformation, uncertain global markets and shifting consumer preferences are reshaping agribusinesses along the entire supply chain.

Food, Water and Agriculture

Australian agriculture has a remarkable record of producing grains, vegetables and fruit and carrying livestock in dryland conditions, and has a rich history of innovation to overcoming the challenges of farming in low rainfall and soil fertility environments.

Now, a new set of challenges has emerged. 

Our mission is to support the development of a sustainable Australian ‘equipment, technology and services’ industry to support the agrifood sector meet these challenges, through technology innovation and close partnering with industry and primary producers. 

Our research focus includes:

Our research and its impact on society

  • Low-cost renewable or hybrid energy systems to help reduce costs of production, enhance sustainability and capitalise on Australia’s renewable energy boom
  • Next-generation water delivery and use systems, to maximise system sustainability and create new opportunities for growth and risk mitigation
  • Innovative distributed fertilizer production technologies, to increase sustainability and create value chain benefits
  • Digital agriculture across the information value chain (from sensing and communications through to data analytics and decision support), to enhance information flow and decision making across the agrifood and wine value chain
  • Autonomous systems including development of autonomous technologies, overcoming safety and regulatory barriers and broader systems engineering, to help the Australian agrifood and wine industry remain competitive in the face of automation
  • Bioprocess technologies that allow the conversion of produce (and food waste) to higher value food products, nutraceuticals and bulk bio-products 
  • Space agriculture, to accelerate innovation for both terrestrial and off-world applications

Smart irrigation systems

Australia’s winegrape production is facing a trifecta of challenges: a drying climate, increasing water costs by optimising water delivery at every and more expensive labour. Our researchers are leading the development of an automated smart irrigation system for wine grapes that lowers labour and water costs, but increases a crop's value.

Space Farming

We aim to intensify space farming by developing a better understanding of agritech engineering-related fundamentals under microgravity, for instance, fertiliser uptake in soil, and holistic technology embedment to up-stream (space mining) and down-stream (space food) processes for integrated space habitats – engineered closed circular life-environmental systems (ECCLES).

Picture: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Our research capabilities

Partners

We are developing technology-based research collaborations with growers, regional development corporations, industry and government, right across South Australia’s food, water and agricultural sectors. Our research is of particular interest and benefit to businesses, organisations and departments involved in:

  • precision agriculture (protected, irrigated and broad)
  • animal production systems
  • irrigation and water resource management 
  • waste reduction and valorisation
  • food and beverage processing and manufacturing
  • winemaking technology.

Contact us

Collaborate with us on a project

Professor Seth Westra is the research theme leader for Agrifood and Wine. He has contributed to the fields of hydrology, water resource assessments and climate risk, and has published over 100 journal and conference papers on these topics.

Prof Westra's projects and research

Higher degrees by research

Whether you intend to work in research or industry, a higher degree by research can give you a competitive edge throughout your career. Find out more about studying a Master of Philosophy or Doctor of Philosophy.

see available projects