Agricultural Technologies and Tech Tips
Introduction: Agricultural Technologies, and the Agriculture Boom
It is exciting to see so much activity focused on new Agricultural technologies, in recent times, we have seen increased research being poured into Drones , 3D printing and various online interactive marketplaces.
There are Drones being developed for early detection of virus infections in vineyards, diseases in crops, farm surveillance and even weed removal. There are government programs such as the Digital Homestead that look to remotely monitor the location, condition and growth of stock and driverless tractors using GPS to precisely and accurately complete ploughing, spraying and other farm duties. There remains however, an uncertainty in how the bush will cope with this exciting new Agricultural technologies and whether it will reach wide scale adoption.
Essentially, there is a key ingredient but also an Achilles heel to the uptake of Agricultural technologies. The availability of skilled labour to implement, operate and repair such technology can often be inaccessible or delayed in rural areas. In reality, as much as this technology has a DIY element, when rolled out on a large scale operational level, there will always be required an element of subject matter expertise for ongoing maintenance.
The fact there are black spots, slow speeds and tech illiteracy issues across rural Australia, creates a natural limitation to the uptake of new technologies. Australia’s disperse rural population and immense geography culminates in a country population that is often too remote and isolated to access skilled labour in a timely fashion. The solution to this during the mining boom was to throw large salaries at labourers and particularly skilled labour in order to entice people to service remote locations. However, it is unlikely even if we are about to enter a boom in Agriculture as many economists are predicting, that the same solution can be used.
Economies of scale, financing and short term returns are generally not available to farming businesses, especially meat producers, which usually operate in long term cycles when looking at return on investment. Agriculture will have to be smarter in how it adopts and utilises technology and somehow, overcome the largest hurdle, how to access skilled labour?
However, online support and the rollout of the NBN may be the key to overcoming these road blocks, with improved coverage and speed more people will be willing to spend the time and money in adopting these advancements . Whilst that is somewhat out of our control, Contractor Cloud has put together some pointers on how we can utilise the potential of new technology without getting caught out.
Contractor Cloud Tech Tips:
- Select easy to use technology. Often you will be relying upon employees, contractors or casual labourers to operate newly acquired Agtech. So the easier and more intuitive it is the more economic of your time and the users.
- Careful not to be too early an adopter of technology. Usually design faults and technical issues are identified by early adopters and the second or third generation products are simply less buggy, cheaper, provide greater reliability and ultimately are more fit for purpose.
- Adopt technology that includes either extensive warranty and/or high levels of customer service and response times built into its purchase price. This will ensure should something go wrong, you are adequately covered should expensive repairs be required.
- Be sure to do your return on investment on all large scale software purchases. Similarly, as the purchase of physical assets such as tractors, dozers and graders, software has to be able to pay for itself over time. Now unlike physical assets that usually increase income, an investment in technology often results in cost savings which can be inherently harder to measure. However, estimates should be completed on the likely return for outlays in technology to ensure value for money.
Ultimately, despite the uncertainties of Agtech, the greater research and development into agriculture the better off rural Australia will be through the continual introduction of new technologies.