FARM INSTITUTE INSIGHTS

Vol. 14 | No. 1 | February 2017


IoT in agriculture – how is it evolving and which policy areas need addressing to facilitate its uptake

Over the past few years technology and agriculture have come together in an unprecedented way, as advances in the ‘Internet of Things’ and big data analysis are increasingly applied to the production, processing and marketing of food and fibre. The purpose of this article is to de-mystify the IoT and how it will change agriculture in Australia. It explores the drivers, IoT in the broader context of farming technology and why IoT is important for the future of agriculture. (more)


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IN MY VIEW

David Lamb, SMART Farm Project Manager at UNE, and Tim O’Leary, Chief Sustainability Officer at Telstra, discuss digital agriculture and connectivity: How can Australian agriculture best ensure it is not left behind due to poor connectivity? Should the Universal Service Obligation be reframed to ensure the equitable access of all Australians to digital and data services? How can farmers be sure that any investment they make to provide on-farm connectivity is not compromised by the quality of the service linking the farm to the internet? (more)


IN THE PIPELINE

There has been much recent hype about Australian agriculture entering a golden era of prosperity. There is certainly reason to be bullish. Record harvests, strong prices for many commodities, and favourable spring conditions in 2016 lifted farm confidence and saw the industry’s gross value of production surge past $60 billion for the first time. Looking forward, one of the keys to the industry’s long-term competitiveness, productivity, and profitability will be its ability to seize the opportunities associated with digital agriculture. (more)


DISCOVERIES

There continues to be a need for alternatives to traditional farm business structures which enhance the prospects of obtaining external capital so that reliance on bank debt finance is reduced. A 2016 review of farm funding models and business structures highlighted the growth in bank debt finance from A$10 billion in 1990 to today’s figure of A$60 billion. While the increase seems alarming the review also found that the rate of increase is on par with the rest of the economy and that debt serviceability and equity levels have been relatively stable. (more)


FARM POLICY NEWS

Australian and international farm policy news. In this issue:
the 2016 Iowa State University Land Values survey shows that US farmland values have declined for the third year running; nearly 40 countries have reported new outbreaks of highly pathogenic avian influenza of various strains in poultry or wild birds since November; China is to invest A$580 million modernising agriculture; Trump dumps the TPP; and British farmers grappling with the post-Brexit era, with 75% of British agricultural exports going to the EU. (more)


CROSSING THE DIVIDE

One of the frustrations associated with becoming a politician must undoubtedly be the divide between public discussion about policy matters – usually confined to criticism – and the available evidence about the positive results some policies achieve. Two current examples are the Australian Government’s climate change and drought policies, both issues on which the government has received strong criticism. Yet, available hard evidence indicates that current policies have achieved considerable success, and are working as intended. (more)


INSTITUTE ACTIVITIES

The Institute's upcoming Harvesting the Benefits of Digital Agriculture conference will examine the actual and potential impacts of digital agriculture, with particular reference to how the entire value chain will be impacted by the changes that are occurring. Also, media attention following the release of new research: A review of farm funding models and business structures in Australia, and the Institute's thirteenth Agriculture Roundtable Conference. (more)