Global search for new digital farm tech
The world is only “scratching the surface” in terms of how digital agriculture will revolutionise food production, according to Nuffield scholar Lara Ladyman.
Ms Ladyman, who hails from a sheep and cropping farm in Katanning, has spent the past year traversing the globe in the search for answers to how technology will mould food in the future.
She will share some of her findings today at Australian Farm Institute’s Digital Farmers Conference in Sydney.
“Digital agriculture is about the collection and analysis of data to improve farm business decisionmaking,” she said.
From on-farm sensors, autonomous vehicles, online farm management tools and precision farming, Ms Ladyman said farmers and the wider industry were already taking advantage of technology, but the space had plenty of room to grow.
“A recently released report by the AFI that identifies strategies to drive digital transformation across the nation’s agricultural industry showed digital agriculture could increase the gross value of Australian agricultural production by $20.3 billion,” she said. “Therefore, it is critical that Australian farmers are able to capitalise on this promise of ‘farming 4.0’ or digital agriculture where a seamless interplay of sensors, autonomous vehicles, precision agriculture, machine learning and big data helps to drive on-farm decisions and productivity.”
However, Ms Ladyman said digital agriculture relied on farmers having good internet connectivity.
“The AFI report highlighted that connectivity was one of five major constraints to digital agriculture,” she said.
“But I think we are only scratching the surface of how digital agriculture will revolutionise food production, from the lab to the lips.”
With the rise of Blockchain and the addition of smart packaging with embedded sensors to those that monitor temperature while produce is in transport, Ms Ladyman said there were already numerous digital tools that could track food from the farm to consumers. “This technology can provide information to suppliers and, ultimately, consumers,” she said.
Ms Ladyman expected to finalise a report on the findings of her CBHsupported Nuffield scholarship in the coming weeks.
I think we are only scratching the surface of how digital agriculture will revolutionise food production. Lara Ladyman
Lara Ladyman, of Katanning, has been awarded a CBH-supported Nuffield Australian Scholarship to explore the future of food.