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Technology: the next big ag productivity enabler

For decades, Australian farmers have been at the forefront of innovation and efficiency, somewhat by necessity in the face of increasing costs and generally flat commodity prices. But questions are now being asked of how the next big incremental gains in agricultural productivity and efficiency will be made. We think the answer lies with farmers’ ability to harness and embrace precision agriculture, made possible through rapid advances in technology.

Technology, agricultural automation and connectivity is exponentially changing the course of farm management as well as improving animal genetics, carcase composition, soil health and crop yields.

Globally, billions of sensor devices are expected to be installed in agribusiness settings over the next decade, automating and connecting things that were never connected before, from gates to troughs, tractors and harvesters.

For example, sensors in a crop that can identify a diseased plant will be able to automatically connect with a robotic sprayer to spray that plant. Another example is the on-farm 3D camera imaging to measure indicative body composition characteristics of cattle and predict lean meat yield and eating quality, which will help producers achieve market specifications and receive increased payment based on expected carcase traits.

A critical development came earlier this year with the formation of the Agricultural Data Application Programming Toolkit (ADAPT) by AgGateway, a not-for- profit consortium of more than 30 global agribusinesses with a mission to promote, enable and expand eBusiness in agriculture. Put simply, ADAPT will enable different software or hardware on different equipment on the same farm to talk to each other and remove the main source of frustration for many farmers utilising precision agriculture.

But precision agriculture is no “silver bullet”, rather it is the “icing on the cake”. Firstly the ingredients of the cake need to be put together; there is no point in a farmer investing in relatively expensive precision agriculture equipment if they are not already doing an excellent job of everything else on the farm, such as controlled traffic farming, good crop rotations, weed control, moisture conservation and timing of operations.

The clients we advise who are performing best are already on board with these technological advances. The early adopters, who may bear the brunt of the development costs, will see the largest gains.

(Source – http://www.theland.com.au/story/4105167/technology-the-next-big-ag-productivity-enabler/)

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