USQ. Kevin Farmer

USQ reveals plans for mega $15m campus expansion

USQ is preparing to splash $15 million on a huge expansion to its Toowoomba campus.

Brisbane-based construction firm Wiley, who are taking on the job, confirmed that demolition had begun as the university begins works on a multi-million dollar project to grow its Agricultural Science and Engineering Precinct.

The ambitious project will see the construction of new microbiology laboratories, quarantine laboratories, biosecurity laboratories, and controlled growing environments where any climate in the world can be replicated.

Glasshouses, dehumidified storage rooms and a number of offices are also set to go up as part of the construction on the Baker St side of the campus.

"The Agricultural Science and Engineering Precinct (ASEP) upgrades will help supplement current USQ research into crop production, harvesting, and yield outputs and will provide farmers with more accurate information for improved crop returns on their farming methods," USQ deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Mark Harvey said.

USQ's crop health research
USQ's crop health research

"The glasshouses and new facilities will be used for pre-breeding programs for wheat and chickpeas, specifically developing varieties that are drought, heat, and soil pathogen resistant.

"ASEP will also facilitate agricultural and material engineering research, providing the ability to undertake machine vision sensing trials and robotics trials."

\AGFORCE Grains president Wayne Newton said that after what had been a disappointing year for growers, any research could safeguard the future of the agriculture industry on the Darling Downs.

"Darling Downs farmers have seen about 50 per cent of what they would normally see this year," he said.

Proximity to USQ's mega facility, he said, could only be a positive for the region's farmers.

Agforce grain president Wayne Newton. Supplied. August 2011.
Agforce grain president Wayne Newton. Supplied. August 2011.

"The last 12 months we have seen below minimal rainfall, therefore making better use of the available water is very important to maximise yields," he said.

"I think (this research) is very important because if we can see a 10% or 15% improvement it will make a massive difference (here) in the dry years."

Construction company Wiley also confirmed that the development will seek to re-use as much recyclable product involved in the build as possible - aiming to limit the environmental impact as the project takes shape.

The upgrades at USQ are co-funded by the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

There has been no confirmation as to when construction will be completed.

Digi subs The Chronicle
Digi subs The Chronicle Contributed

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