Agriculture & the Internet of Things (IoT)
Agriculture & the Internet of Things (IoT)

I met Ros Harvey, the managing director of a great Australian company called The Yield early last year, just when the HiveXchange was beginning to get off the ground. Ros is an inspirational Australian figure in agtech and has just raised another $6.5 million dollars from global corporations Bosch, KPMG and Agfunder. Ros was quoted as saying,

“Australia is the perfect breeding ground for Agtech innovation, because our conditions are so tough. Growers are innovative because they need to be. Helping them to solve real problems, while creating reliable and accurate technology they can use day in, day out, is essential.”

Precision agriculture, using internet connected devices to drive better farming outcomes (internet of things or ‘IoT’) will make Australian agriculture more productive without question. Ros is an example of just how much progress is being made by Australian grown innovation.

But it won’t stop at the farm gate. A recent article in Australian Farmers by Andrea Koch highlighted the opportunities upstream. She writes in her article ‘The road ahead for the sector is one in which data-driven decisions on-farm will be coupled with information and feedback across the supply chain and through to consumption in a ‘whole-system considerate’ approach that takes the use of sensing technology beyond the farm gate.”

The supply chain that Andrea refers to is also undergoing some fundamental changes. A recent report by  Fruit Logistica suggests that ‘the fresh produce value chain is becoming atomised, by which it means that the distribution channels involved are evolving fast and in different directions. Consumers’ interaction with established and emerging marketers and retailers is becoming increasingly digital. What’s more, the drive for authenticity is seen by some as an opportunity to develop growers’ emerging role as the new marketing heroes.’

And for me that says it all. It is the producers who are now turning to these digital technologies to achieve three things:

  1. To become more productive in the practice of growing and farming produce through precision agriculture
  2. To use their data to tell a story about their production practices and
  3. To leverage 1 and 2 in digital environments to market and generate optimal value for everything they grow.

These are early days for sure, but consumer behaviours and economics will drive our food supply chains towards this outcome as surely as we have all been driven to smart phones and free email. Data presented in the right way allows us to experience and understand the world in ways that help us optimise the benefits of every investment we make.

— Antonio Palanca

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