Connecting Australian Agriculture to put the power in the hands of the farmer

December 30, 2021
written BY

Much has been said about Australia’s lofty ambitions for a $100bn agriculture industry by 2030 and it is widely accepted that technology will play an important role in the sector’s anticipated growth. A couple of weeks ago, however, the NBN Co and the National Farmers Federation (NFF) revealed just how vital digital technologies may become for life on the farm.

On 9th November, NBN Co and the NFF launched a collaborative research paper titled ‘Connecting Australian Agriculture’ with the goal of exploring opportunities for Australian farmers to harness the power of digital technologies to improve their processes. Accompanied by NBN Chief Development Officer, Regional and Remote, Gavin Williams, and NFF President, Fiona Simson, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, launched the paper at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga.

Labeled as the “next step in the journey” towards achieving full digital adoption across Australia’s farming sector, the Report brought together industry experts and modelling undertaken by analytics firm AlphaBeta to ascertain productivity growth potential for agriculture's adoption of digital technologies. The Report identified that internet-enabled technologies could add $15.6 billion to the agriculture sector’s gross value of production each year, primarily driven by advancements in:

  1. Decision support technologies, such as artificial intelligence, to assist with the collection and analysis of on-farm data that can inform decision-making (said to have an $8 billion productivity growth potential);
  2. monitoring technologies, such as remote sensors and water monitors, which give farmers real-time information on valuable resources and measurable quantities (said to be a $4.3 billion productivity growth potential); and
  3. automation technologies, such as automated irrigation systems or robotic tractors, to improve farming efficiencies and precision through automated machine processes (said to be a $3.3 billion productivity growth potential).

In addition to the modeling, the launch of the Report also identified various contextual opportunities and challenges the agriculture industry faces with the unfolding digital revolution. According to data from NBN Co, rural NBN users are twice as likely to enroll in education online and one and a half times more likely to access health services online.

President of the National Farmers Federation, Fiona Simson however recognized that developing and deploying internet-enabled technologies is only one part of the solution, with a need to ensure farmers are technologically savvy enough to utilize the technologies to their full potential.

...it’s now time to focus on increasing the digital literacy of our regional communities and to increase the awareness of the exciting future of digital agriculture”.

The release of the Report is a positive recognition from industry leaders and digital technology providers as to the opportunities that are presented by the thriving agriculture sector for technological adoption, but it also stands as a reminder of the gaps in the current digital infrastructure. Many farmers across Australia still do not have adequate access to internet services and digital resources, meaning much of the reported opportunities are not feasible for those users at this stage. The Report also highlighted that poor connectivity is estimated to cost farmers up to $5 per hectare.

Despite these concerns, the Report is an exciting proposition for agtech companies like Agtuary whose platform is an example of the decision support technologies which assist farmers with the capture and display of relevant and useful data. Agtuary believes that harnessing both publicly available and on-farm data can support more informed decision-making by farmers, for both internal and external uses. In a rapidly evolving industry, having access to accurate and real-time data from various data sets across farming inputs and outputs can better equip farmers to manage their farms more effectively.

Whilst the Report makes no guarantees, what is abundantly clear is that there is an exciting positivity about the future prospects of Australian agriculture for farmers and tech providers alike. Bring on 2030!

Agtuary provides ag-tech solutions such as analytics API's, website integrations, and property assessment tools. If your organization requires our existing or custom solutions, please reach out to us at contact@agtuary.com to arrange a demo.

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