Reshaping the future of farming at UQ – UQ News
The newly appointed Professor of Sheltered Crops at the University of Queensland has big plans to transform Queensland’s agriculture.
Professor Paul Gauthier has joined the Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation (QAAFI) and is leading a project that will establish UQ as a leader in sheltered cultivation for the tropics and subtropics.
‘Building a sustainable and reliable food production system is one of the biggest challenges we face,’ said Professor Gauthier.
“My priority is to empower the next generation of farmers with a focus on tropical and subtropical crops, an emerging, high-growth industry.”
The project will address high value pharmaceutical and nutraceutical crops that can be grown indoors.
“Climate change, natural disasters, digital disruptions, population growth and the pandemic are all driving innovation needs in the agri-food sector in a rapidly changing landscape,” he said.
Professor Gauthier is one of the world’s leading advocates for vertical farming, which has been booming around the world since the emergence of COVID-19 but is still in its infancy in Australia.
“The yield of some crops can be increased up to 100 times with vertical farming,” he said.
“Vertical farms also generally don’t use pesticides and save a lot of water, allowing for higher quality produce.”
Professor Neena Mitter, Director of the QAAFI Center for Horticultural Science and the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformational Research HUB for Sustainable Crop Protection at UQ said the appointment of Professor Gauthier was a coup.
“Paul Gauthier is a leader in his field and brings valuable knowledge and experience to his new role,” said Professor Mitter.
“His research will help maintain UQ’s reputation as a global leader in agriculture and food science.”
Professor Gauthier previously held positions at Bowery Farming in the US, Princeton University and ANU.
He said he plans to ensure Queensland is at the forefront of the future of farming.
“I’ve always worked with the best and UQ is one of the biggest universities with amazing facilities and academic leaders, so QAAFI is the right place for me,” he said.
“I look forward to developing the collaboration needed to advance protected cultivation in Australia and beyond, and developing the technologies needed to feed the world.”
Photos by Professor Paul Gauthier and UQ research in greenhouses available at Drop box.