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AgTech to Get Digital Healthcheck for Future Improvements

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The future of Australian agriculture is looking promising, with technology and telecommunications assisting its growth. In order to sustain this and craft an even brighter future, a digital health check is underway.

In an initiative undertaken by the government and research bodies, a nationwide survey will be conducted in order to assess the current state of technologies employed in Australian agriculture, connectivity challenges and possible red tape.

The survey is the first of its kind for agriculture and is dubbed P2D – accelerating precision agriculture to decision agriculture. The project involves the collaboration of 15 Rural Development Corporations (RDCs), the federal Department of Agriculture and Water, and Australian Farm Institute.

The Australian Farm Institute’s executive director Mick Keogh stated that the survey will enable the cooperation to determine the state of agricultural technology and to determine opportunities.

“This project will help quantify potential opportunity and set us up for best practice in effective data use and commercial decision support across all agricultural industries in Australia. The first step will be to understand the constraints to speeding up adoption of big data and new technologies. Then there will be further questions on how to solve those problems, how to improve connectivity across farms,”

Australian Farm Institute’s executive director Mick Keogh via Queensland Country Life

The P2D will hold a number of consultation workshops across the country in parallel to the nationwide survey. In the study, the P2D also aims to regulate data privacy and ownership of agricultural data.

“Importantly, we will look at what legal codes need to be in place around data and ownership – which is very uncertain at the moment.”

-Mr Keogh

Rohan Rainbow, P2D’s chief is on board the project after his consulting role with the Cotton RDC. Mr Rainbow is encouraging farmers, organisations and communities to attend workshops to pitch in their ideas in regards to data access.

“We want to understand the issues for third parties accessing producers’ data – and not just ownership but the legal implications of how access is assigned,”

P2D Chief Rohan Rainbow via Queensland Country Life

One of the major aims of the P2D forum is to identify ownership and its applied legalities when sourced from farming applications such as cattle or livestock information.

Mr Rainbow also stated that P2D aims to accelerate the adoption of technology in the agriculture scene where there’s an impending “technological divide” between non-tech aided farming practice compared to early adopters to technology. Through a funded research and development, P2D aims to sustain tech aided farming to Aussie agriculture.

“You only have to look at our competition in the US, Europe or Brazile – who have quickly developed and adopted technologies for productivity gains,”

Mr Rainbow 

Overall, the P2D project aims to present a report to the Australian government in order to aid in future policies, legislations and regulations. The findings of the P2D study are expected  by the end of this year.

For farmers and agriculture organisations, this is an opportunity to be proactive in the creation of governing laws surrounding data from agriculture ranging from applications, internet repositories, satellite internet dependent systems and data derived from on the field use.

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