Innovation a must for farms
WE often hear about the importance of innovation to the Australian economy and its effects on employment and lifestyle, but until recently stories of innovation in the agricultural sector were rarely conveyed to the broader community.
If we look back through history no other group has been as innovative or ready to adopt new technology as farmers. The proof is in the fact that we now have a world population of 7 billion, compared to approximately 900 million in 1800. This massive increase over a mere 200 years could not be sustained without the innovation of farmers who provided the food and fibre to allow this to happen.
Major innovations, such as the stump jump plough (South Australia, 1877), had a significant positive effect on the efficiencies and yields of farming. Often machinery innovations have been the direct result of a farmer’s own inventions and we continue to see that. This has been complemented by advancements in other areas and a rapid adoption of these new technologies by farmers.
In today’s environment, we see things like drones and sensor technology being used to ensure that farming not only remains economical but is also environmentally sustainable, for example, using drones and spectrum analysis to highlight a weed species in a paddock and thereby allowing for spot spraying as opposed to a broad- acre approach. The result is less impact on the environment and an economic and time boost to the farmer.
In a time where costs continue to rise and returns have remained static, any reduction in overheads is a positive.
Innovation is about meeting the challenge to provide food and fibre to a rapidly rising global population
Clearly this challenge is not new, farmers have been meeting it for the past 10,000 years. What is new is the dimensions of the challenge. While the world population is growing, the upside is technological advancements are also at unprecedented levels.
However, while there are more scientists alive today than there have been in collective history, and many rapidly obsolete inventions to match, the number of farmers globally is decreasing. Our challenge will be not only meeting the population’s needs, but doing so with potentially less natural resources and a declining number of farmers. Farmers by their nature are innovative and the custodians of the food production system as we know it.
I attended some great events in southern Tasmania since we last spoke. Congratulations to Terry White and Chris Cusick for the Mates For Mates barbecue at Bream Creek last weekend and also for organisers of the successful planned burning field day at Wattle Hill.