Science for food and agriculture

A horizontal cross-section of a wild-seeded banana showing the accumulation of individual micro-nutrients found in the different organs of this banana fruit. Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy - QUT Photo credit: Tal Cooper

  • Over100food & agriculture research centres
  • 2 times global average cited for food & agriculture research
  • 40,000 agriculture, fishing, fibre & value chain businesses
  • 48 patent publications (2017–2021)

Queensland's food and agribusiness sector is renowned for producing high-quality and safe food at competitive prices. This is supported by a strong research sector ranked in the top five of advanced agricultural research institutions worldwide. Queensland researchers are driving innovation in sustainable food production, functional foods, biofuels and more efficient farming systems, usually in collaboration with Queensland’s highly organised produce sectors and a strong and growing base of startups.

With more than 30 government-owned research facilities across temperate, sub-tropical and tropical climates and several university field research centres, Queensland food and agriculture researchers have the advantage of being able to research and develop a wide variety of crops and animal production systems.

Queensland is well placed to research and produce the foods of the future. Queensland researchers produced over 4,000 publications between 2017 and 2021, and the most recent of these (in 2020) were cited over 2 times the global average (citation rate of attributable publications). Most publications are in the areas of: crop and pasture production (25%); veterinary sciences (18%); and food sciences (16%). Queensland collaborates most frequently with the USA; China; the UK; Germany and South Africa.

Queensland has several leading institutes and centres and over 100 research organisations involved in food and agriculture research.

Leading food and agriculture research centres

All food and agriculture research centres

Industry-research collaboration and commercialisation

  • Advanced breeding

    Providing science-led innovations in aquaculture, the fastest-growing food sector in the world, is critical to avoiding harmful outcomes. The JCU ARC Research Hub for Advanced Prawn Breeding is working with Seafarms and other partners to develop a sustainable black tiger prawn industry in north Queensland.

  • Digital farming and genetics

    To assist producers across northern Australia improve the performance of their beef herds, automated phenotyping technology, from the Precision Livestock Management team at the CQUniversity Institute for Future Farming Systems, is now being integrated into Meat and Livestock Australia’s genetic evaluation systems.

  • Decarbonisation

    A carbon sink and using much less fossil fuel than steel, concrete, or aluminium, sustainability grown timber is a key part of decarbonising our economy. The Forest Industries Research Centre at Uni SC is working with Hancock Queensland Plantations and other partners to maximise tree health, productivity, sustainability and biodiversity.

  • Vaccine development

    Losing over A$3 billion a year to pests and disease, better vaccines are crucial to improving the profitability and sustainability of the Australia’s livestock industries. After over a decade of research, the Centre for Animal Science, has patented a Bovine Respiratory Disease vaccine that is in trails with a multinational animal health company.

  • Artificial intelligence

    Seeking to maximise quality, lower costs, increase production and prevent disease Sunray Strawberries are working with the ARC Industrial Transformation Research Hub for Driving Farming Productivity and Disease Prevention (led by Griffith University) in applying artificial intelligence in their strawberry production farming system.

  • Bioenergy production

    As the world moves away from fossil fuels north Queensland is well placed to develop a sustainable biomass-based economy. The UQ Centre for Crop Science is working with Far Northern Milling and growers at Mossman, Sugar Research Australia to identify and develop suitable biomass options for a sustainable sugarcane industry.

  • Artificial intelligence and robotics

    A collaboration between the Centre for Agricultural Engineering at UniSQ and John Deere has led to the development of the See & SprayTM Select vision-based precision spray technology for use on fallow ground that will reduce input costs and minimise environmental impact in farming businesses across the globe.

  • Advanced breeding

    Root-lesion nematodes cause significant crop losses in agriculture. Using a multi-pronged approach, researchers at the Centre for Crop Health have developed nematode-resistant breeding lines to Australian plant breeders that are in commercial trials under license to a major multinational biopharma company.

  • Advanced breeding

    Panama TR4 is the greatest threat to the Cavendish banana industry worldwide. In collaboration with Fresh Del Monte and Hort Innovation, the long-term Banana Biotechnology Program at QUT’s Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy is using CRISPR -Cas9 gene editing to generate TR4-resistant Cavendish with field trials expected to start in 2023.

Contact the commercial partnership offices of Queensland universities and research institutes for details of their research-industry collaboration or investment opportunities.

Support for food and agriculture

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Dr Jaime Manning from CQUniversity Precision Livestock Management checking Australian Wool Innovation smart ear tags

Queensland has strengths in advanced plant and animal breeding, plant and livestock pathology and diagnostics, robotics and automation, food value adding, modelling and remote sensing and the ability to pull it all together into a systems approach and is supported by a 10-year roadmap and action plan for agriculture and food research development and extension.

Queensland has world-class bioeconomy researchers and facilities, such as the synthetic biology CSIRO Biofoundry and the Mackay Renewable Biocommodities Pilot Plant in both agricultural and bioindustrial product development. We have long-term competitive advantage in the production of key alternative feedstocks such as sugarcane and grains – particularly sorghum for bioenergy and the Queensland Biofutures 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan.

Queensland is a significant global beef processor, servicing domestic markets and producing high-quality beef products that are exported to more than 50 countries is supported by the Queensland Beef Processing Strategy.

The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries manages a broad program of research development and extension across agriculture and food, fisheries and aquaculture, forestry and forest product development and invasive plants and animals.

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Progress of a fluorescent-stained virus through a leaf in Geminivirus research for protection against the Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl at Centre for Agriculture and the Bioeconomy.

Photo credit: The power of fluorescent proteins by Steven Charlesworth

Advance Queensland is the key Queensland Government initiative (A$755 million as at July 2022) to foster innovation and build a more diversified economy and is comprised of a diverse suite of programs including Universities and researchers that is delivered by nine government agencies, and is designed to develop entrepreneurial and research talent, and to support start-ups and businesses.

Strategic, targeted and regionally relevant research and development is delivered by a unique Australian industry-government investment partnership, the Rural Research and Development Corporations (RDCs). There are 15 Rural RDCs across agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries in Australia, each focused on specific commodities and sectors. The Australian Government matches funds raised by industry levies.

Talent pipeline for food and agriculture

All of Queensland’s universities offer under and post graduate courses and units in food and  agriculture and many partner with industry groups, producers and processor, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and the Rural Research and Development Corporations. Most of the universities host major research institutes and specialised research centres supporting post-graduate and dedicated researcher.

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Research by Fraser Border at the Centre for Agricultural Engineering using advanced sensing, imagery and robotics to reduce waste in the red meat processing industry

From their earliest years students in Queensland engage with STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) under the strategy for STEM in Queensland state schools and teachers access resources via the STEM Hub and the Queensland STEM Education Network provided by Queensland universities.

High school students can be industry-ready under the Agribusiness Gateway to Industry Schools Project. This long-term program, operating in 75 schools around Queensland, supports the development of a highly skilled workforce and is managed by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries with the support of over 200 industry partners.

  • Find out why top researchers and industry leaders are saying Queensland is one of the best places in the world for food and agriculture research.

    Find out why top researchers and industry leaders are saying Queensland is one of the best places in the world for food and agriculture research.

View Food and Agriculture video with Chinese subtitles
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