Sensor technology can provide huge value and efficiency gains in a range of agricultural industries, but they are not without their limitations.
The 2018 Agrifutures Australia report “ Emerging technologies in agriculture: regulatory &
other challenges” highlights key ways in which sensor technology is relevant to agriculture.
Here are the four main issues and risks facing agriculture sensor technology as outlined in the report.
1. Data ownership
Sensors produce large amounts of highly useful, granular data for farmers. This data can also be sensitive and related to individual farm performance.
While sensors collect data for individual farms, there are differing opinions in the industry regarding its ownership and how it can be commercialised.
Many farmers argue that they have the right to own their own data for commercial reasons (ACIL Allen Consulting, 2018). In contrast, some suggest that farm data should be consolidated into regional datasets (ACIL Allen Consulting, 2018).
The third parties involved in sensor hardware and software further complicate ownership discussions, especially when it comes to accessing raw data.
Other third parties gaining access to raw data- for example, banks and insurers- is also a concern for producers (ACIL Allen Consulting, 2018).
Lack of uniform standards for sensor technology makes it difficult to assess the value of available products (ACIL Allen Consulting, 2018).
New technology is a business risk to farms. Lack of standards and concerns over risk exposure can slow adoption rates (ACIL Allen Consulting, 2018).
This makes it difficult for farmers to invest in new technology. It also makes it difficult to find products best suited to their needs (ACIL Allen Consulting, 2018).
3. System security
Given the sensitivity and commercial value of farm data, lack of adequate security systems pose huge enterprise risks (ACIL Allen Consulting, 2018).
Malicious software and cyber-attacks make this issue an increased concern for the agricultural industry, especially when global policy and regulation is lacking (ACIL Allen Consulting, 2018).
4. Managing large volumes of data
Sensors produce large amounts of farm data that accumulate over time, and farms normally have multiple sensors adding to this accumulation (ACIL Allen Consulting, 2018).
While sensors generate an enormous amount of data, a lot of it is not analysed and used in useful ways on farm (ACIL Allen Consulting, 2018).
Furthermore, connectivity issues can hinder gathering, storing and leveraging of rich farm data insights (ACIL Allen Consulting, 2018).
5. Technical support
Increasing sensor applications requires increasing support for farmers, agronomists and other stakeholders (ACIL Allen Consulting, 2018).
There are concerns regarding lack of support in the agricultural industry for sensor technology (ACIL Allen Consulting, 2018).
Lack of support means producers are not equipped to leverage data insights in order to reap the rewards of their investment in such technology (ACIL Allen Consulting, 2018).
Are farmers concerned with agricultural sensor technology?
Curious about Australian farmers’ thoughts on sensors?
At KG2, we specialise in providing qualitative and quantitative market research services within Australian Agriculture.
We leverage the extensive KG2 farmer database to survey farmers from a range of industries.
Read the full Agrifutures Australia report here.
ACIL Allen Consulting. (2018). Emerging technologies in agriculture: Regulatory & other challenges. Agrifutures Australia. Retrieved from www.agrifutures.com.au