“Smart farming” and Internet of Things (IoT) technology is providing the platform for  the “fourth agricultural revolution”. 

In the 2016-17 financial year, Australian agriculture was worth more than $63 billion, representing approximately 3pc of Australia’s GDP, with exports accounting for over 75pc of this value. In the same year, food exports constituted 11.6pc of all goods exported out of Australia.

The merit of smart farming technologies is becoming increasingly evident in Australian agriculture. If embraced, the gross value of Australian agricultural production, including forestry, fisheries, and aquaculture, could increase by $20.3 billion, supporting global efforts to meet food requirements for a growing world population, expected to exceed 9.6 billion in 2050.

Capitalising on this opportunity relies on development and adoption of digital agricultural technology solutions within the Australian agriculture.

Agricultural Revolutions

The fourth agricultural revolution is centred around modern, digital  technologies. It emerges from the previous “green” revolution of the 1950s and 60s which propelled biotechnology, genetics and breeding science in agriculture.

The revolutionary momentum driving changes in agriculture draws upon the combined application of:

  • data-driven analytics technologies (including precision farming equipment) 
  • IoT
  • “Big data” analytics
  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs or drones) 
  • Robotics
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) 
  • Machine learning (ML)

The future of Australian agriculture and the smart farming revolution paints a picture where pesticide and fertilizer use will drop while overall efficiency and productivity will rise.

Smart farmingSolutions will enable better food production and traceability, which in turn will lead to increased food safety. It will also be beneficial for the environment, through, for example, more efficient use of water, or optimization of treatments and inputs.

Supply Chain Enhancement and Industry Growth 

Based on a more precise and resource-efficient approach from smart farming and IoT solutions, farmers will have the potential to deliver a more productive and sustainable form of Australian agricultural production. It will also drive supply chain efficiencies by integrating food production, further processing and the end-user through a sharing of information.

Analysis from one of Australia’s big four banks, ANZ, has shown that an increase in access to technology in agriculture agriculture facilitated by a transition into larger-scale farming, has led to a 62pc increase in output from 1995 to 2018.

The National Farmers’ Federation has forecast that by 2030, the value of Australian agriculture has the potential to increase to $100 billion

Smart farming in Australian agriculture is well on course to support and realize one of the global economies burning questions on how to feed our growing population. With the use of precision agriculture technologies, Australian agriculture can position itself to meet these demands and growth targets.