Tech Farming Interest Growing this Year

July 26, 2016 7:34 am

tech farming australia
Although investments in digital technology for agriculture trails behind all other sectors, there is  now a boom in its adoption among Australian farmers. This year marks an extraordinary growth of interest in digital agriculture technology, according to
The latest conference of the Australian Farm Institute that was held in Sydney last month entitled “Digital Disruption in Agriculture” provided the opportunity for a very detailed look at the different opportunities being provided by digital technologies, as well as overcoming impediments limiting digital agriculture.
The conference highlighted how disruptive digital technology is beginning to transform Aussie agriculture from skills-based management to a more industrialised model, where farming decisions are made based on objective data.
However, only less than $5 million was invested in Australian agricultural technology (agritech) deals last year, while globally the figure was $4 billion. This is according to Atty Michael Dean, one of the co-founders of the US-based company AgFunder. The Australian lawyer, who is now based in San Francisco, says while there are plenty of good ideas in Australia, he is disappointed with the small number of agritech deals being done.

“Globally, US companies dominated agritech with 303 deals in 2015, followed by India with 64, and Canada with 25. Total venture dollars in US: $2.2 billion. But for Australia, we recorded a disappointing 6 agritech deals with a total of $4.8 million invested. We’ve got to do something about that,”

-Atty Dean remarked.


Australian Expertise in Robotics
One area where Australia is leading the agricultural sector is in the field robotics, particularly at the University of Sydney.
As reported in ABC, Professor Salah Sukkarieh and his team at the Australian Centre for Field Robotics have recently earned contracts with agriculture, mining, and commercial aviation. They have developed a new “shrimp robot”, so named for having 16 sensors, that is now being used in apple and almond orchards. The project has been extended to include tropical fruits and macadamia nuts.

“It is able to go up and down rows autonomously and to detect [and count very rapidly] individual features like flowers, fruits, or nuts. In the vegetable industry, our collaborations in the past have been with growers, and now it’s focusing on the value to individual growers, to get a return on investment,”

-Prof Sakkarieh

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