Using data to deliver benefit

Digital agriculture will underpin the future of farming

Machinery
DIGITAL BOOST: Australian Farm Institute executive director Richard Heath said if all barriers were removed and the full potential of digital agriculture was realised today the potential boost to Australian agriculture could exceed $22.3 billion.

DIGITAL BOOST: Australian Farm Institute executive director Richard Heath said if all barriers were removed and the full potential of digital agriculture was realised today the potential boost to Australian agriculture could exceed $22.3 billion.

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Digital agriculture will underpin the future of farming

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The National Farmers' Federation 2030 Industry Roadmap identified investment in the capacity of digital and human networks to share and promote new practices and tools as paramount to growing the farming sector.

Australian Farm Institute executive director Richard Heath said if all barriers were removed and the full potential of digital agriculture was realised today the potential boost to Australian agriculture could exceed $22.3 billion.

"The work we did with the Precision2Decision program was multifaceted and one of the areas we looked at was the potential for Australian agriculture if digital agriculture was unimpeded," he said.

"There are a whole heap of barriers to the adoption of digital technologies so we looked at what was the cost of those barriers in terms of the restriction of agriculture growth."

Mr Heath said while the institute's work had quantified direct benefits from digital technologies, such as the cost savings made through the automation of a process rather than relying on labour, the majority of the benefits were derived from having better data and information about agriculture.

"Information you gather through digital processes can be used to better inform and deliver insights into improvements that can be made," he said.

"For example in animal agriculture digital technologies that allow you to better understand how animals graze so you can manipulate grazing patterns or to better understand how animal genetics are connected to eating quality and consumer preference to better allow you to select genetics to maintain a higher price."

Mr Heath said digital agriculture underpins the future innovation of all parts of agriculture.

"It enables better insights and efficiencies into what we already do, often digital on its own does not deliver anything novel, its benefit is in helping us understand, refine and create new opportunities from what we already do.

"In some cases it is just an underpinning platform, in other cases it is delivering a direct benefit as well as an additional benefit where the data gathered is used for analysis and insights.

"Things like automation of engine loads to be more fuel efficient, the data that is collected through that process can potentially be correlated to things like soil type, so it indirectly gives you a soil type map.

"Sometimes its not immediately obvious what the secondary benefit is from the data but if it is collected and analysed there might be uses found."

Mr Heath said these benefits could only be realised if the data was correctly collected, curated and analysed, which was currently a big gap and thus opportunity for Australian agriculture.

"What the NFF have a program around at the moment is best practice policies and strategies to give more confidence to farmers to be able to contribute data to get a better return by combining it with other data," he said.

The story Using data to deliver benefit first appeared on Farm Online.

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