News

Help needed to keep up with technology

By Country News

Adoption of emerging agricultural technology is occurring at a rate faster than the opportunities can be understood, according to two new reports.

The two AgriFutures Australia-funded reports deliver insights for government, industry and rural research and development corporations in the areas of regulation and community perceptions.

They consider changes needed to safeguard industry use of new technologies and point out the opportunity cost of getting it wrong.

Robotics, for example, can reduce producer operating costs by up to 40 per cent for a farm investing $100000/year on insecticides, herbicides and fertilisers.

However, research by consultancy firm ACIL Allens revealed farmers needed guidance to help demystify common concerns accompanying the use of robotics, such as insurance, ethics, standards and data ownership and protection.

Meanwhile, research conducted by GHD and AgThentic revealed there was confusion and scepticism around blockchain among primary producers, as it was often associated with cryptocurrencies.

These perceptions could lead to barriers to adoption, which in turn affects consumers.

AgriFutures Australia managing director John Harvey said Australian agriculture needed to stay ahead of the curve when it came to understanding the potential regulatory impact of technologies, and possible negative perceptions that might prevent technology use.

‘‘With the sector likely to increase its reliance on new technologies over the short to medium term, it’s important not to become complacent by assuming we will always have free and easy access to new technologies,’’ Mr Harvey said.

‘‘If we don’t address these actions, the sector may be locked out of emerging technologies or be unable to capitalise on opportunities that our international competitors have access to.

‘‘The reports are instrumental in identifying what the challenges and impediments are and provide practical solutions in areas that will have the greatest impact.’’