Report confirms new technology will drive agriculture's fertile future

The Hon David Littleproud MP
Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management
  • The future of agricultural technologies report released today provides further support for the Australian Government's National Agricultural Innovation Agenda.
  • Australian agriculture is already world-renowned for its efficiency, productivity improvement and adaption to external challenges.
  • The uptake of new and emerging technologies is critical to the growth and resilience of the agriculture sector.
  • The Australian Government has welcomed an independent report commissioned by the Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel AO that supports an increased uptake of emerging technologies across our agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries.

    Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud said the Australian Council of Learned Academies' (ACOLA) The future of agricultural technologies report will help to inform the development of key deliverables under the National Agricultural Innovation Agenda announced on 1 September.

    "This comprehensive body of work makes it abundantly clear that strategic investment in the development of new tech is critical if agriculture is to stay ahead of the game," Minister Littleproud said.

    "Australian farmers already have some of the most advanced farming practices in the world, and the findings of this report confirm the importance of ensuring farmers and businesses on-farm have easy access to innovative technologies into the future along the supply chain.

    "This report aligns with our Digital Foundations for Agriculture Strategy that will set the foundations for the widespread uptake of digital technologies across agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

    "The Digital Strategy will build the sector's resilience to shocks, drive recovery from the pandemic, and ensure the foundations are in place for agricultural businesses to implement modern technologies.

    "The Digital Strategy also complements the efforts of NBN Co and other organisations who are providing practical solutions to improve uptake of digital technologies in the agriculture sector.

    "Our Innovation Agenda already acts on some of the findings of the ACOLA report such as the internationally focused growAG platform, led by AgriFutures Australia and in partnership with all rural research and development corporations, to showcase agricultural technologies to the world.

    "We are also investing $86 million through the Future Drought Fund to establish eight Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs around the country to bring together research providers and users with a regional focus and accelerate the uptake of new technologies by farmers.

    "The Government has a clear plan to support the industry to capitalise on the next wave of growth and reach its production value goal of $100 billion by 2030-and that involves investment in the uptake of advanced technologies.

    "As the ACOLA report notes, out of the challenges come opportunities, as advanced technologies can improve the productivity, profitability, and resilience of production systems.

    "The future for our sector is very exciting."

    The future of agricultural technologies report can be downloaded here.

    Fast Facts:

    • The future of agricultural technologies was commissioned by Australia's Chief Scientist, on behalf of the National Science and Technology Council.
    • It is part of the Horizon Scanning Series of reports which present independent and timely analyses to guide decision makers through the decade ahead.
    • The report outlined eight key findings:
      • Addressing the opportunities and challenges facing Australian agriculture requires transformative application of emerging technologies.
      • Australia's agricultural technology and innovation ecosystem needs revitalisation to provide more opportunity for stakeholder involvement and to break down sectoral and disciplinary silos.
      • The strength and resilience of Australia's agricultural sector will be enhanced by supporting adoption of agricultural technology by Indigenous landholders.
      • Technology development and adoption across Australian agriculture should include explicit consideration of buyer preferences and expectations.
      • Appropriate policy settings are needed to enable technological implementation to move beyond incrementalism and support transformational change.
      • Data are a powerful asset but will require appropriate national leadership and regulation to ensure their potential value to agriculture is realised.
      • Empowering Australia's regions through investment in local solutions and capacity will facilitate transformational change through agricultural technologies and will provide complementary social and economic benefits.
      • Farmers and other agricultural workers need support to familiarise themselves with emerging technologies and to obtain the specialist skills required to maximise their use.
    • The Australian Government's Digital Foundations for Agriculture Strategy will be delivered in early 2021, with consultation starting shortly.
    • It will address the major barriers to uptake of digital technologies to ensure the foundations-the infrastructure, knowledge, skills and drive-are there for agricultural businesses to use modern digital technologies across their entire business.
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