Grain Producers Australia (GPA) has begun talks with the WA Government to seek formal endorsement and adoption of a new Code of Practice that will help drive the future use of autonomous farm vehicles and machinery on farms throughout Australia.
The Code of Practice for Agricultural Mobile Field Machinery with Autonomous Functions in Australia has been developed in a joint project by GPA, working with the Tractor and Machinery Association of Australia (TMAA) and Society of Precision Agriculture Australia (SPAA).
Input was sought from Australian grain producers as well as manufacturers and technical experts from Australia, the United States and the European Union.
The process of drafting and writing the Code has been led by farm technology expert and SPAA committee member, Dr Rohan Rainbow, working on contract to GPA.
Rohan said improved safety standards, hazard controls and risk management procedures were at the forefront of the Code’s operations, along with ensuring autonomous machinery use has practical application on-farm.
SPAA President Frank D’Emden said he was excited to support GPA and TMAA in the development and ultimate government endorsement of the Australian Code.
“It is very important to have an accepted COP to guide and inform legislation to support the successful and responsible adoption of autonomous technology within the Australian farming community,” he said.
The Code is designed to provide guidance on:
- Mobile machinery with semi-autonomous and autonomous functions used in agriculture field operations
- Developing and evaluating safe work procedures for the use of this machinery.
Examples of machinery used in grain farming operations include: planting, spraying, fertilising and harvest operations.
The Code has been written for in–field, on–farm operation only and doesn’t cover the use of autonomous or semi–autonomous equipment on roads or public land, or the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, known as UAVs or drones.