Digital Disruption in Agriculture Conference

This event has now concluded

Digital technologies have the potential to revolutionise Australian agriculture and make possible the next big leap in productivity. Across all agricultural commodities, digital technologies and applications are emerging that are disrupting production systems and supply chains, creating radically different business models, and enabling farmers and agribusiness to manage with levels of precision and insight that were previously unimaginable. The Digital Disruption in Agriculture conference convened by the Australian Farm Institute provided the opportunity for a very detailed look at the possibilities being provided by digital technologies and posed questions about how to ensure that those possibilities can be realised.

The conference was held in Sydney on Thursday 2 June and Friday 3 June, 2016 - bringing together a range of international and Australian speakers. It provided valuable insights into the developments that are occurring, and what they will mean for Australian farmers, agribusiness and policy-makers.

This year's conference venue was held at the Stamford Plaza Sydney Airport, Corner O’Riordan and Robey Streets, Mascot NSW 2020. 

There were two full-day conference sessions as well as a dinner on the evening of Thursday 2 June.

A list of confirmed speakers is available here.

Gold Sponsor                

Bronze Sponsors                          


SESSION 1: Understanding digital disruption and its implications

This session will involve international and Australian speakers providing a broad overview of the disruptions that are occurring in the broader economy and in agriculture as a result of the rapid development of digital technologies. These changes are being driven by the ever-reducing cost of digital processing and data storage, the miniaturisation of monitoring technologies, and the development of wireless data transmission and cloud storage systems.

SESSION 2: Digital disruption on-farm

What are the digital developments currently occurring on-farm that are transforming production systems and delivering efficiency and productivity gains? Speakers from a range of different commodity areas will provide their perspective on the development of digital systems within their enterprises, what they have learnt and the benefits and pitfalls associated with these.

SESSION 3: Exploring digital development in the farm input sector

Internationally, the farm input sector (especially crop input suppliers) have been at the forefront in adopting digital information management systems. Australia’s crop input suppliers are rapidly adopting these systems, although there has been less development occurring in the livestock sector. Speakers will provide their views on current systems, and their benefits for both suppliers and farmers.

SESSION 4: Digital technology through the supply chain

The adoption of digital information management systems is well advanced in the food processing and retail sector, and as these systems mature, the opportunities are emerging for better integration of on-farm and post-farm management of digital information. This creates opportunities to more closely tailor farm production to supply chain needs, and also to meet any compliance requirements associated with production systems or agrichemical use. This session will involve speakers from a number of different supply chains, providing insights arising from experience with digital information systems.

Conference Dinner


SESSION 5: Telecommunications and other infrastructure needs

A critical issue limiting the development of digital agriculture in Australia is reliable access to mobile telephone services and the internet, especially given the large volumes of data involved. Mobile phone and internet access in rural Australia is improving slowly, but still presents major challenges. Alternative options ranging from local signal boosters to temporary data storage are available, but are less than ideal. This session will involve farmers and others talking about their experiences, and an interactive panel session of telecommunications company representatives responding to the issues raised.

SESSION 6: The role of digital technologies in governance and compliance systems

Digital systems provide new ways of meeting information and compliance requirements more efficiently. This session will first involve a discussion of information privacy issues, before presentations from speakers who have been involved in the development and implementation of digital systems that provide farmers and supply chain participants with opportunities to streamline compliance requirements.

SESSION 7: A perspective from agri-software developers

Developments in digital agriculture rely on software products and mobile phone applications produced by software developers. This session will involve presentations from a number of agri-software developers talking about how software and app development has changed and what those changes mean for the sorts of products that will be available for agriculture. The relatively small size of some market segments, telecommunications access, Australia’s unique farm production systems, and the availability of start-up funding will also be explained.

SESSION 8: Making digital agriculture happen in Australia

The final session of the conference will involve a panel session involving digital agriculture experts, who will provide their views on how the potential opportunities arising from digital agriculture can be realised.

Conference Video

What's the story on Digital Agriculture?

Hear about the Institute conference.