Big results expected from data sharing

Sharing data gleaned from new technology could earn farmers an additional $70/ha in the latest revolution for farming.

A project funded by Food Source Victoria could help farmers cash in by setting up an “agricultural data co-operative” to share information from precision agriculture.

Birchip Cropping Group received a planning grant to investigate how sharing farmer data could improve the bottom line. The project also looked at how this could help with national traceablity of grains.

The planning grant also looked at the willingness of growers and industry stakeholders to collaborate and co-operate to remove barriers to the adoption of digital agriculture technologies.

Birchip Cropping Group chief executive officer Chris Sounness said the project confirmed that growers could potentially gain $70/ha in profitability though sharing information, and the industry could gain an additional $55/ha across the grains value chain.

“The project established that a pilot agricultural data co-operative could be formed and in operation within six months,” Mr Sounness said.

“An evaluation of the success of the pilot agricultural data co-operative, along with a template for replicating the co-operative across other localities could be completed inside 12 months.”

Mr Sounness said the analysis and application of grower sourced data could improve the speed, timeliness and accuracy of grower decision making, helping to reduce input costs and manage the risks associated with seasonal variability and climate change.

“Grower-sourced data can enable greater efficiencies, adding value and reducing risk through the development and implementation of traceability, market access and marketing programs,” he said.

But Mr Sounness said there were also barriers – connectivity to the internet, the capability of both farmer and their advisers to understand the information, and trust that this information would be safe. But he is confident these can be overcome.

Food Source Victoria program manager Susan Findlay said it was important to support emerging technologies and methods of improving the profitiability of farmers.

“Following the mechanical and green revolutions of the 20th century, the agricultural sector in Australia and globally is in the early stages of a digital revolution,” Ms Findlay said.

“A farmer data co-operative is leading edge in its thinking and it is the kind of thing that our planning grants can support.”

Source: Vic Government