Farm­ers fo­cus on boost­ing returns

Tasmanian Country - - NEWS -

THE Tas­ma­nian In­sti­tute of Agriculture has launched a ma­jor so­cial-re­search ini­tia­tive called the As­pi­ra­tions for Food and Agriculture project, or TasAgFu­ture.

It was launched last week in Ho­bart at a TIA event cel­e­brat­ing the in­au­gu­ral Na­tional Agriculture Day.

The re­search team is led by se­nior re­search fel­low Peat Leith, a spe­cial­ist in so­cial re­search on agri­cul­tural and sus­tain­abil­ity is­sues.

“How can TIA best work with Tas­ma­nian food pro­duc­ers and pro­ces­sors to as­sist the sec­tor to grow sus­tain­ably? The As­pi­ra­tions for Food and Agriculture project aims to an­swer this ques­tion,” Dr Leith said.

“Through the project TIA will learn how food pro­duc­ers and pro­ces­sors in the state are in­no­vat­ing now, how they see the fu­ture and what con­strains and en­ables them to achieve their goals.”

The re­cently re­leased White Pa­per on agri­cul­tural re­search, de­vel­op­ment and ex­ten­sion in Tas­ma­nia out­lines the State Gov­ern­ment’s fu­ture di­rec­tion un­til 20150 and men­tions the As­pi­ra­tions for Food and Agriculture project.

“TIA has an im­por­tant op­por­tu­nity to help de­fine the fu­ture di­rec­tion of RD&E for the Tas­ma­nian food and agriculture sec­tors,” di­rec­tor of TIA Pro­fes­sor Hol­ger Meinke said.

“We at TIA want to cre­ate value for Tas­ma­nian food pro­duc­ers and pro­ces­sors, as well as in­form pol­icy dis­cus­sions with in­dus­try and gov­ern­ment,” he said.

“Us­ing aca­demic rigour, the project will help us meet the needs of the agriculture sec­tor, sup­port sus­tain­able growth and en­sure the sec­tor is com­pet­i­tive into the fu­ture”.

Dr Leith and a team of re­searchers are in­ter­view­ing 100 pro­duc­ers and pro­ces­sors around the state and con­nect­ing with TIA’s part­ners in in­dus­try and gov­ern­ment.

“We want to ex­plore the ways the Tas­ma­nia’s food and agriculture sec­tors are in­no­vat­ing, their vi­sion for the fu­ture, and what is needed to achieve goals,” Dr Leith said.

“These dis­cus­sions will help clar­ify where Tas­ma­nian agriculture and food sec­tors are head­ing and how we will get there,” he said.

Dr Leith said next year the team would reach out more widely to food pro­duc­ers and pro­ces­sors and en­gage the broader com­mu­nity.

Pro­fes­sor Meinke said the TIA would ap­ply the re­sults through in­ter­nal pro­cesses and work­shops with key stake­hold­ers to de­ter­mine ways for­ward for agri­cul­tural re­search, de­vel­op­ment and ex­ten­sion.

The project launch in­cluded a panel dis­cus­sion on the fu­ture of Tas­ma­nian food and agriculture, pro­voked by ques­tions from the au­di­ence and real-time opin­ion polls.

A full record­ing of the event is avail­able on TIA’s YouTube chan­nel, TasIn­sti­tu­te­ofAg.

For more de­tails visit utas. edu.au/tia/tasagfu­ture. TECH­NOL­OGY is a ma­jor area of in­vest­ment for Tas­ma­nian farm­ers, a sur­vey shows.

The lat­est Com­mBank Agri In­sights re­search shows a chang­ing trend in how farm­ers plan to spend their money.

The sur­vey, con­ducted in Septem­ber, shows 38 per cent of farm­ers in Tas­ma­nia plan to in­crease tech­nol­ogy and in­no­va­tion in­vest­ment in the com­ing year. This is an in­crease of 11 per cent from last year.

Re­gional and agribusi­ness bank­ing general man­ager for Tas­ma­nia, Dar­ryl Mohr, says land avail­abil­ity has tight­ened and farm­ers now fo­cus on lift­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity and ef­fi­ciency rather than ex­pan­sion.

The sur­vey shows half of Tas­ma­nian farm­ers who plan to in­crease tech­nol­ogy in­vest­ment are pri­mar­ily mo­ti­vated by in­creased pro­duc­tiv­ity and ef­fi­ciency, well above the na­tional av­er­age of 37 per cent.

About 18 per cent ref­er­enced labour ef­fi­ciency as a rea­son to in­crease in­vest­ment.

“Tech­nol­ogy, as an en­abler of ef­fi­ciency and pro­duc­tiv­ity, is of great in­ter­est to Tas­ma­nian farm­ers, who are look­ing at op­tions like auto-steer equip­ment and busi­ness bench­mark­ing tools,” Mr Mohr said.

He said Tas­ma­nian farm­ers were also look­ing to in­vest in the spe­cial­ist skills of their teams and ex­ter­nal ad­vis­ers with 26 per cent to in­crease spend­ing in that area, up 18 per cent com­pared with this time last year.

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