Esperance and Margaret River would become a leading global agtech research centre under a 5G “flooding” trial put forward by WA Farmers and supported by a Federal parliamentary committee. The plan would see a 120km 5G strip installed across productive agricultural land around Esperance or blanket coverage of Margaret River’s wineries, which everyone from local farmers to big machinery manufacturers could then test with the likes of drones, augmented reality and autonomous vehicles. The House of Representatives’ Communications and Arts committee on Tuesday tabled a 117-page report into the deployment, adoption and application of 5G in Australia, noting the WA Farmers plan in its recommendation to trial the technology in regional areas. Esperance was pitched as an ideal location for such a trial because of its reputation for agricultural innovation, while Margaret River’s premium viticulture and tourism combination also puts it on the radar. WA Farmers chief executive Trevor Whittington said blanket 5G coverage would set Esperance and Margaret River apart as an agricultural research and development destination. “Opportunities will arise to attract some of the big multinational players like your John Deeres or Case IHs to a base like Esperance for trial work,” he said. The GRDCs and Wine Australias, the big central R&D organisations which have millions of dollars to outlay, we need a reason to attract them from the eastern states to Western Australia. “It is a logical place to do that work but without 5G you are just like every other regional centre trying to attract R&D. “WA is a major player in grain production and fine wine so I’d be disappointed to see it overlooked.” Federal Labor Member for Perth Patrick Gorman said bringing the trial to WA would enable some of the best farmers in the country to test the limits of the network. “What it allows you to do is, at a much lower cost, have more sensors and more programmable machines and other things at one time, and the amount of instructions you can provide to those machines again with basically zero lag is greatly increased,” he said. “One of the things I have been concerned about is there is no trial site in regional WA. We should learn from the lessons of the NBN where it took us 10 years to roll out tech that by the time it was rolled out was out of date.” Committee chair and Federal Nationals MP David Gillespie said 5G farming could help combat food fraud, improve soil quality and animal welfare and attract greater investment in ag tech. A Telstra spokesman said the telco welcomed the Government’s focus in keeping people informed and reassured about 5G’s safety.