Opportunities to lift productivity in the agricultural sector lie in new and emerging technologies such as robotics, new packaging material, biotechnology and digital and wireless technologies for data measurement, weather monitoring, animal monitoring, geospatial monitoring, and precision application of water and chemicals.
Building the capabilities to respond to these new and emerging technologies and investing in research and development will contribute to innovation and improve productivity. This will also require an effective system which leverages the contributions of government, industry and research institutions with a clear pathway to implementation on-farm and by businesses.
Accelerating smart agriculture requires the development of AgTech companies and capabilities across the state. Supporting entrepreneurs, through skills development and innovation pathways, and attracting domestic and foreign investment into start ups, will drive the development of technologies that Victoria can use and sell to the world.
The Internet of Things Trials
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the next frontier to enhancing agricultural productivity, sustainability and profitability. Internet-connected devices are used on farms to monitor variables like soil moisture to help farmers make more informed farming decisions.
Mobile and internet connectivity in the agricultural sectors can provide farmers with valuable information on weather conditions, disease control and new methods of maximising crop yield, and enable livestock tracking.
In the 2017-18 State Budget, the Victorian Government announced a $45 million, four year Connecting Regional Communities Program to increase digital connectivity and usability in Victoria's regions.
It included $12 million for an on-farm IoT trial aimed at assessing the contribution that IoT makes to farm performance within four key agricultural sectors - dairy, grains, sheep, and horticulture (fruits, nuts, berries). Maffra, Birchip, Serpentine and Tatura have been chosen to host the trial sites. The knowledge gained through these trials will drive the government's longer-term response to the opportunity of digital agriculture.
KPMG Australia has provided a summary report of the research, analysis and planning for the trials.