Ray Taylor's sophisticated application of technology on his family-owned and operated farm has earned him the 2023 Award for Excellence in Technology, sponsored by New Holland.
Ray is the General Manager of Taylor Family Produce - a 90-year-old horticultural operation spread across two properties in Queensland. A fourth generation Taylor on the farm, and the eldest of three brothers, Ray oversees 191 hectares of growing lands on the Granite Belt of the State.
Taylor Family Produce grow and market five main products to wholesalers and major supermarkets on the east coast of Australia. These include iceberg lettuce, wombok (Chinese cabbage), celery, cauliflower and silverbeet. Given operations are spread across two locations, Amiens and Kalbar on the Scenic Rim, production is a year-round venture.
Ray believes that utilising technology on farm is helping them maintain the levels of high-quality production needed to meet market demand, particularly for major retailer Woolworths Supermarket.
"Integrating tech into our business has helped us be agile and react to changing market demands and environmental factors," Ray said.
"I use innovative software to develop reports on water, waste, pesticide, biosecurity, energy, biodiversity, soil, climate, workplace safety, soil, climate, runoff, air better business and nutrients. These reports enable me to identify concerns and respond quickly to avoid production issues."
Recently, Ray has investigated the introduction of drought proofing infrastructure such as dam covers to preserve water during droughts - with covers reducing evaporation likely to preserve 5.9 million litres of water when it is needed the most.
Ray has also explored additional crop protection infrastructure for the nursery such as bird and hail netting and the use of laser lights to reduce pests settling in buildings offers a cleaner solution to keeping work areas clean and safe than some other treatments.
Ben Mitchell, New Holland's Product Manager for Mixed Farming and Livestock and 2023 Award for Excellence in Technology sponsor, said Ray's attention to detail and use of reporting across the enterprise put his farm in an impressive position.
"Using tech to support decision making in a farm business is an essential management strategy and assists in building long term viability," Ben said.
"Ray is able to explore new initiatives and practices confidently because of the data analysis and reporting. This will help his horticultural enterprise stay ahead of the game now and into the future."
In addition to crop rotations and the use of fallow to nourish soil after harvest, Ray has maximised his use of solar on farm, reduced chemical use and used Trickle Tape for water conservation.
Ray's long-term plan for the business is to continue to supply a consistently high standard of produce to the Australian domestic market in a sustainable and ethical way, while paving the way for the next Taylor generation.
"I always knew I wanted to farm, and I love seeing what we are achieving every day," Ray said.
"If I am able to give the business a solid foundation to grow from, using the tools and equipment we have now and keep introducing new innovations over time to continue progressing, that will be a great reward not only for myself, but for future generations who will manage Taylor Family Produce."