“Precision farming” in Australian agriculture, is the new term for IoT-based approaches that make farming more controlled and accurate, enabling a price maker culture as opposed to a price taker culture.
Put simply, farmers who adopt IoT solutions as part of a ‘smart farming’ approach to Australian agriculture can obtain precise information to support critical management decisions. This can lead to more productive and profitable outcomes, through a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learnings (ML) which allow for a great degree of accuracy when modelling, forecasting and planning.
Two immediate sectors of Australian agriculture that IoT can revolutionize are cropping and livestock.
Precision Cropping Smart Farming
Precision farming allows on farm decisions to be visualised down to a square meter or even per plant level, rather than averages across an entire paddock or property. Agricultural IoT enables farmers to precisely measure variations within different areas of a paddock and make real-time, data-based decisions distinct to their land. This can relate to input application, whereby smart farming can enhance the accuracy of pesticide and fertilizer usage to maximise output.
The flow-on effect of precision agriculture is that farmers will have real-time information on the growth of their crop, yield forecasts, date of harvest and so on. This is a key enabler for the direct marketing of crops. Smart farming allows farmers to have a greater vision in terms of germination and growth which then provides the necessary intelligence to interact with the supply chain, achieve optimum pricing and timely delivery to processors in the market.
In reverse, suppliers of inputs can be directly conversing with producers who use smart farming technology and share the data they collect. This can ensure timely and effective management in the application of inputs to boost productivity.
Precision Livestock Smart Farming
Smart livestock farming techniques and IoT increase farmers ability to monitor needs of individual animals and adjust nutrition accordingly, thereby preventing disease, enhancing herd health and meeting growth targets.
Smart farm technology involves wireless IoT applications to monitor the location, well-being, and health of cattle. With this information, farmers can enhance the identification process for sick animals, so that they can be separated from the herd to prevent the spread of disease and ensure the animal is returned to a forward condition putting on kilos of meat or growing wool. Farmers can also identify and track weight gain and forecast kilograms of meat to be produced to enable robust supply chain marketing direct with processors, feedlots and supermarkets. Smart farming and IoT can also analyse carcass data and feedback. This data can be provided for forward price negotiations when marketing and selling livestock over the hook or at live weight.
Through the capture and sharing of information, smart farming enterprises can benefit from cost efficiencies and economies of scale, maintaining a profitable future, ensuring engagement in the supply chain and maximizing a farmers ability to be a price maker.