Just like all other years, 2020 has been pretty difficult when it comes to Australian agriculture. Nonetheless, the farming community has proven to be extremely determined against the hurdles. Faced with catastrophic bushfires at the beginning of the year, the myriad disruptions caused by Covid-19, collateral damage from international geopolitical events, and the ever present threat of drought – time and time again, Aussie farmers have kept our nation fed and maintained Australia’s position as a leading global exporter of premium produce. However, when it comes to 2021 — which is bound to contain its own unforeseen problems — is the agricultural industry set up for success?
Even though a great deal of investments have gone into the agricultural market, this sector remains the least digitalized sectors in the world. However, we’re in luck – for technology is the ideal, robust solution to a productivity challenge. Leveraging the millions of data points generated every day on-farm to increase productivity and efficiency, and engendering a culture of data-led decision making, will provide farmers with an increased arsenal of insights and knowledge in order to meet future challenges.
Fortunately, the investment world is waking up to this need and the contemporaneous development of the agtech ecosystem. 2020 is set to see more than $4.5 billion invested into agtech startups, surpassing the past four years by considerable margins and validating the agriculture theme at the forefront of venture portfolios.
Climate change isn’t a distant threat – it’s here and its effects on the farming community are real. Australia’s climate has warmed on average by 1.44 ± 0.24 degrees celsius since national records began in 1910, leading to an increase in the frequency of extreme heat events across an already dry country. But it’s not all bad news. Agriculture is the only industry that, through encouraged and incentivized proliferation of technology and operational practices, can become sustainably and demonstrably carbon negative.
Heading into 2021, with the aid of data-driven technology to forecast future seasons and soil nutrition, farmers should look to pursue regenerative practices which will reduce chemical use. They can also offset their carbon emissions through carbon credits.