The new model for The Archibull Prize, to be piloted in 2020, asks students to identify real-world agricultural problems and explore future focused possible solutions. The model also asks them to partner with tertiary education, industry and/or government to achieve this. Which is all fine in theory but how will this work at ground level?
One example of this collaborative process is the Bridge Hub 2020 Water Challenge. Described as “a regionally based, globally connected, whole of life cycle innovation hub for the Australian and global Agrifood Tech Industry” Bridge Hub takes head-on the challenges facing agriculture and invites the community to contribute.
The Water Challenge asks for water problems to be identified that impact the drought-proofing of Australian agriculture. Examples of such problems may be:
- Hard water causing blockages in irrigation lines
- Nutrient run-off affecting water quality
- Cost effectiveness of treating waste-water
- Water inefficiency in food production
In identifying these problems Bridge Hub asks for four questions to be considered:
- How can the Australian agrisystem use less water and increase productivity and profitability?
- How can we ensure the quality of water optimises the outcomes for the agrisystem and the environment?
- How can we turn arid agricultural areas into vibrant, sustainable and productive regions?
- How can different sectors outside the agrisystem align to optimise water usage?
Submission of problems to Bridge Hub forms the initial part of the challenge and gives entrants the chance to win one of four $1000 prizes.
The second part of the Water Challenge is about finding solutions and here’s where the big money can be made with up to $150,000 available for trials to test the solutions.
Submissions for the 2020 Water Challenge closed on 15th March, putting it out of reach of the 2020 Archies, but just imagine what can be achieved when students become involved with identifying problems and investigating solutions in similar real-world examples.