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Australian agrisector adopting emerging technologies at a faster rate, latest reports

The Australian agriculture sector is adopting emerging technologies at a faster rate compared to the capacity of consumers to understand the prospects, i.e. the creation of an urgent demand to explore regulatory challenges and community perception around the utilization of latest technologies.

This is the focus of two latest AgriFutures Australia-funded reports – AgThentic and Emerging technologies in agriculture: Regulatory and other challenges by ACIL Allen Consulting and Consumer perceptions around emerging agtech undertaken by GHD.

The reports provide crucial information into government, industry, rural research and development corporations in the domains of community perceptions and regulation. The reports also consider alterations required to protect the agriculture sector’s utilization of latest technologies and indicate the opportunity cost of getting it wrong.

For instance, robotics can cut the operating costs of producers through precision farming. It is claimed that bots can cut the costs by up to 40% for a farm investing USD100,000 per year on fertilisers, herbicides, and insecticides, mainly because of their abilities to spread chemicals in exact locations in right quantities.

The value addition is apparent but ACIL Allen’s research finds out that farmers require guidance to clarify common concerns associated with the use of robotics, such as ethics, standards, insurance, data protection and ownership.

Also, research conducted by AgThentic and GHD found out that there is scepticism and confusion around blockchain among farmers, since the technology is often linked with crypto currencies. The perceptions can result in barriers in adoption of emerging technologies that in turn can affect consumers.

Understanding, identifying and mitigating perception issues is essential to make sure that farmers continue to adopt emerging technologies, while consumers have trust and confidence in the way their food is produced.

John Harvey, managing director at AgriFutures Australia, states that the Australian agri sector has to remain ahead of the curve when it comes to determining the potential regulatory impact of technologies, as well as potential negative perceptions that is likely to prevent technology use.

He also added that as the sector is all set to raise its dependence on emerging technologies over the short to medium term, it is imperative not to be complacent by taking the access and availability of emerging technologies for granted.

He also stated that if the actions are not addressed soon, the agri sector may be locked out of new technologies or will be unable to capitalize on prospects that the global competitors have access to.