Vol. 12 | No. 4 | November 2015

Big data and the future of farming

Of late, the term ‘big data’ has generated a lot of buzz and a lot of questions in the agriculture sector. By some accounts, the implementation of big data applications will effectively enable farmers to be replaced by autonomous machines in the not too distant future. Alternatively, others are claiming that big data is simply a grab for more information by big corporations, and that it will not result in any productivity gains or benefits for farmers. (more)



A combination of low-cost sensors, cheap and increasingly powerful computing capacity and expanding mobile phone and internet access is resulting in the generation of rapidly growing volumes of digital data associated with farming operations. While holding the promise of productivity improvements by enabling management at the square metre rather than the paddock scale, there are concerns about data privacy and the potential use of digital information for government compliance purposes. (more)


AFI maintains a comprehensive agricultural trade database which is accessible by members through the Institute’s website. The database is updated annually as comprehensive international data becomes available and contains information about international trade in the complete range of agricultural commodities, and importantly details the performance of competitor agricultural exporters, to provide a picture of how well Australian exports are competing in key markets. (more)


The Australian Farm Institute recently undertook a research project, funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC), which had the aim of developing a statistical index of the competitiveness of Australian agriculture, relative to the competitiveness of competitor national agricultural sectors.



Australian and international farm policy news. In this edition: €500 million comprehensive package of measures to support European farmers; ABARE reports Australia’s farm production forecast to hit $57.1 billion; Mandatory market reporting to stay in the US; and US corn prices and farm returns. (more)


On Tuesday 10 September, the WA Court of Appeals handed down its decision in the Marsh vs Baxter case, in which an organic farmer sued his genetically modified (GM) crop growing neighbour for allegedly contaminating the organic farm, which resulted in a loss of organic certification and therefore a substantial amount of income. By a two to one majority, the Appeals Court judges supported the decision of the original judge, and dismissed all the claims made by the organic farmer. (more)


The release of the Spring 2015 Farm Policy Journal, ‘Will consumers stop agricultural technology?’, was the subject of an article in The Land, ‘Science not enough to sway consumers’ (19/09/2015): 'People don’t respond to science – people respond to people... The conclusion, that science alone is an inadequate tool for persuasion, is useful knowledge for any farm sector wanting to use a technology that might attract a consumer backlash.' (more)