by George Nott

Aussie farmers keen to share data and invest in digital tech

Oct 31, 2016
Technology Industry

A national survey of Australian farmers found that an overwhelming majority see significant value in digital technology as well as sharing data with other farmers.

Some 70 per cent of farmers believed digital technology added significant value to their operations, although 78 per cent said they preferred to let others try new forms of technology before investing in it.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s Agri Insights report canvassed 1,600 Australian farmers about their intentions for their farm enterprise over the coming 12 months.

Nationally, 58 per cent of farmers currently share their own production data with others, although 76 per cent agreed that data sharing is valuable for themselves and the broader sector.

“It’s a real sign of the way Australian farmers view themselves less as competitors with their neighbours and more as part of an Australian agribusiness ecosystem that is working to stay competitive on a global scale,” said Tim Harvey, acting executive general manager, regional and agribusiness banking, at CBA.

“Farmers have a strong history of supporting each other and although technology may change, the principles of collaboration and co-operation endure in the digital age.”

The biggest benefits of sharing data, they saw as being able to learn from other farmers (49 per cent) and for benchmarking purposes (26 per cent). Of those that saw no value in sharing data, the most common reason given was due to privacy issues (26 per cent).

One in five farmers nationally said they planned to make investment in farm technology or innovation over the next 12 months.

Sowing a tech advantage

In September, a report from StartupAUS forecast that Australia could grow a $100 billion agricultural industry by 2030 if agricultural technology (AgTech/Agritech) was supported locally.

The Powering Growth report, co-authored by KPMG Australia, and backed by CBA and the Queensland Government, called for an independently administered fund to help farmers invest in AgTech and a digital marketplace for easier access to AgTech products.

The emergence of new digital technologies in recent years – including sky muster, weather support, remote sensors, RFI tags, GPS, remote gate release, remote pump switches, smart phones and wearables – represented a huge opportunity for AgTech in Australia, the report said.