The National Farmers Federation says its digital innovation strategy will drive agriculture to double its value, to be worth $100 billion a year, by 2030.
The strategy, which was launched by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on the weekend, includes a Digital Agriculture Service, established in collaboration with consultancy firm Accenture.
Accenture’s Anthony Willmott said it would help crunch vast amounts of data gathered by robots and drones as well as weather and market information.
“Farmers will be able to say; ‘option one is to harvest today and the business impact is x, option two is harvest in seven days time and the impact on my business will be y‘.
“(They are) really practical decisions on the business value of doing things.
“Today that information is available but it’s nearly impossible to integrate in one place to make effective decisions.”
“The real focus is how to increase farm gate returns,” Mr Willmott said.
“The challenge for farmers today is they have vast amounts of data generated from multiple sources, and they’ve got no way to bring that together in one location where they can take advantage of that information and make real decisions.”
He gave the example of drones in the sky which collected information on the height of cotton, or satellite imagery of the amount of pasture left in a paddock and whether a farmer needed to move the livestock.
Accenture is also building the online platform for the National Farmers Federation which will have news and weather, markets and agribusiness stories, designed to counter stories from activists.
Vodafone has also joined the NFF as the telecommunications partner, setting itself up as a major competitor to Telstra.
“There are six million Australians living and working in regional areas, including over 100,000 farmers and for too long they have been disadvantaged by a lack of mobile competition and choice of provider,” said Vodafone Corporate affairs director Dan Lloyd.
Citing market analysis by the Centre for International Economics, he said the lack of competition was costing $3.1 billion a year.
“That’s $3.1 billion which could be driving growth but instead is holding back the country especially in regional areas.”
One of the devices Vodafone demonstrated was a safety gadget attached to quad bikes or other farm machinery, which can send alerts to next of kin if the quad bike rider has an accident.
A sim card attached to the collar of a cow could send back data about whether the cow was cycling and ready to mate, or take its temperature, to indicate it was unwell.