About Us

At the UNE SMART Farms we aim to:

  • Connect current and future farmers, students and community with cutting edge agricultural research and applications
  • Be a core resource for research, teaching and outreach while maintaining commercial agricultural enterprises
  • Support the research priorities of the University and establish collaborations with industry for research

UNE SMART Farms are valuable resources that enable UNE researchers and their industry and community partners to conduct world-class activities that encompass Sustainable, Manageable, Accessible, Rural Technologies (SMART).  Supporting a range of disciplines including natural and agricultural ecosystems, poultry, livestock and canine sciences, precision agriculture and zoology, the SMART Farms offer researchers and postgraduates the space, environment and facilities to work and partner with industry to solve real-world problems. The SMART Farms also provide the context for problem-based experiential learning for undergraduates and for community activities.  To have these wonderful resources located just minutes from the UNE campus is a major strength for those working and studying at UNE.

Made up of eight properties covering 3,820 hectares, the UNE SMART Farms are diverse and valuable teaching and research resources.  With the exception of Tullimba, the farms are located adjacent to or within a 5 minute drive of the main UNE campus, allowing easy access for research and teaching activities. Tullimba is located 40km west of Armidale.

Our People

Managing Director – Professor Lewis Kahn

Joining the Farms as Managing Director in 2016, Lewis is responsible for the strategic direction of the Farms and oversees the management of operations and budgets.  With a background in parasitology and agricultural consulting Lewis’ expertise is well suited to this role and the challenges it involves.  His recent appointment as Associate Dean Research for the Faculty of the Sciences, Agriculture, Business and Law also complements the research function of the UNE SMART Farms.

Armidale Farm Manager – Paul Arnott

Paul has been with UNE as Farm Manager for 9 years and has responsibility for the overall management of the staff, the farming and research facilities and operations of the Armidale SMART Farms.  With the assistance of a number of farm staff Paul is responsible for the day to day management and operations of the SMART Farms located in Armidale including Kirby, Newholme, Laureldale, Trevenna, Toombs, Clarks and Maxwellton.  Paul also works closely with researchers and other users of the Farms to ensure their purposes are met.  With a background in sheep and cattle management. Paul brings extensive experience to this position which can be particularly challenging in balancing the needs of a commercial grazing enterprise with research objectives.

Tullimba Farm Manager – Colin Crampton

Colin has been at Tullimba since 1995 and took on the Farm Manager position 9 years ago.  With responsibility for the overall management of the Farm and research feedlot facility Colin has a full-time staff member and a number of casual staff to ensure the smooth operation of day to day management activities.  With extensive local knowledge and a background in farming Colin brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to this position.

Industry Engagement Officer – Dr Rachelle Hergenhan

Rachelle joined the Farms in 2017 to provide support to the SMART Farms Managing Director in establishing and equipping UNE SMART Farms as a development and innovation site that provides the background and the opportunity for growing collaborative connections between UNE researchers and industries.  Providing a conduit between researchers and industry with the Farms Rachelle aims to involve more researchers to make the most of the opportunities these Farms represent for industry research.  With a research background in early lamb behaviour and impacts on lamb survival and undergraduate teaching experience in sheep and wool production, agricultural consulting and extension, Rachelle brings a range of knowledge and skills to this position.

Management Structure

Our Researchers

Many researchers across a number of disciplines but particularly in the Faculty of Science, Agriculture, Business and Law utilise the SMART Farms for a range of projects.  Find out more about some of our key researchers and their areas of interest here.

Professor David Lamb

Leader of the Precision Agriculture Research Group (PARG), David has been instrumental in the development of the SMART Farms as highly connected and networked farms.  As a physicist with research interests in applied optics and precision agriculture his technical knowledge has been vital to the application of technologies to agriculture.  Learn more about David’s work here

Professor Julius van der Werf

Professor in Animal Breeding and Genetics, Julius leads the MLA Resource Flock project at the Kirby SMART Farm.  With research interests in genomic analysis and optimisation of breeding programs, Julius and his team work closely with industry programs to implement theoretical principles in tools that can be used for day to day decision making by breeders, farmers and practitioners.  Find out more about Julius’s work here

Professor Karl Vernes

Leading the Mammal Ecology Group at UNE, Karl has spent a lot of time on the UNE SMART Farm Newholme studying Australian native mammals, particularly macropods.  Monitoring the 25 camera traps set up across Mt Duval and riparian exclusion zones, Karl has a wealth of knowledge on the ecology of mammals in our Farm ecosystem. Find out more about Karl’s work here.

Professor Roger Hegarty

An animal nutritionist, Roger makes extensive use of the SMART Farms for research and teaching purposes. A current project at Tullimba is validating remote monitoring of cattle weights using walk over weighing and testing the association between time spent at lick supplements and supplement consumed. Other work has studied feed offered and production of methane using Greenfeeder systems under feedlot conditions. Find out more about Roger and his work with Animal Nutrition.

Associate Professor Nigel Andrew

Leader of the Insect Ecology Lab, Nigel and his students make use of various locations across the Farms for insect studies particularly in various species of dung beetles and ants.  The extensive soil moisture network is also used by Nigel as part of his studies into the occurrence, behaviour and physiology of these species.  To find out more about Nigel’s work visit his research profile

Dr Wendy Brown

Leading the canine research program at UNE, Wendy manages the Laureldale Dog Research and Handling Facility.  With research work across a number of aspects including nutrition, dental hygiene, behaviour and training Wendy also leads a growing canine teaching program.  For more on Wendy’s work visit her research profile

Dr Isabelle Ruhnke

A lecturer in Animal Science, Isabelle’s work focuses on poultry nutrition, in particular the nutritional management of free range laying hens.  Making use of the SMART Farms poultry facilities for some of this work Isabelle is also using some digital technologies such as RFID for monitoring hen locations within a shed and range.  For more information on her work click here

Dr Fran Cowley

Fran is a ruminant nutritionist and Lecturer in Livestock Production.  Utilising the Farms for both research and teaching Fran’s interests range from the systems level of livestock production down to the metabolic level and interactions between nutrients and rumen physiology.  For more information about Fran and her work visit here


Contact us

If you'd like to learn more about the UNE SMART Farms, or if you are interested in deploying technologies on the farms or in supporting this initiative some other way, please contact Dr Rachelle Hergenhan