EACH year, agricultural technology gets a little more sophisticated, more fit-for-purpose and more integrated into farm enterprises, and 2022 is shaping up to be a year of exponential growth for the sector as it looks to support the broader agriculture industry.
Once upon a time ‘agtech’ was almost a dirty word within agriculture – tainted by attempts by big technology companies to deliver products to the Australian farming sector that were not fit-for-purpose or did not solve a real farm problem.
The agtech industry has done a lot to shake off this perception in recent years and is set to completely break free of these shackles in 2022, largely due to the ramping up of collaboration among different agtech providers.
The most exciting thing about the Australian agtech industry is that it primarily consists of businesses that truly have the farmer’s best interest at heart and there are more and more examples of these innovators working closely together to develop integrated solutions that boost on farm-profitability, productivity and sustainability.
Application Programming Interfaces
In 2022, we will see greater use of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). This is software which allows two apps to talk to each other. For the farmer, this means that the water infrastructure data captured by a solution like Farmbot could be shared with a herd management software provider like MaiaGrazing and farmers could benefit from the synergies of these two data sets.
The possibilities that integrated data sets provides is limitless.
Smoothing-out carbon accounting
Late last year, the world turned its attention to Glasgow and the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26). Although much of the discussion focused on reducing global emissions, much of the debate here in Australia was on the importance of soil carbon as a means of removing carbon from the atmosphere.
Specifically, the Australian Government’s Long Term Emissions Reduction Fund highlighted the importance of simplifying and reducing the costs associated with the measurement of carbon, making it easier for Australian farmers to embark on carbon farming projects.
Platforms that smooth out the carbon project accounting system will see huge growth and become mainstream in 2022/23.
The common theme with these expected growth areas within agtech is data.
The power of data needs little introduction with seven out of ten companies in the world now monetising it. A data-driven farmer is able to make business decisions based on facts rather than gut-feel and instinct. Farmers that are guided by data can make more accurate calls about what the future holds and will be more profitable and productive.
But having access to robust data sets on everything from rainfall, water consumption, soil carbon and livestock movement has a multiplier effect that transcends the immediate on farm benefits.
Data-driven lending risk mitigation
In 2022, we will see banks and other non-bank lenders developing and distributing alternative funding options for agribusiness based on data-driven risk mitigation.
Farmers that have invested in technology that collects farm data will be able to provide quantifiable insights and are set to reap the benefits in the form of favourable or flexible interest rates and payment terms underpinned by data.
Technology is the silver bullet for many of the agriculture’s largest challenges for example water security and climate change. I’m confident that the policy makers, both in Government and the Opposition understand this, so we expect to see the 2022 election campaign yield strong support and funding for innovation which will only benefit farmers.
The challenges of 2021 aren’t going away in 2022.
We will still be dealing with uncertain borders, climate change and water security challenges. We will also see new challenges like an eventual rate rise, and expect challenges to supply chains to continue well into 2022.
However, I expect tailwinds from increased government support and collaboration between innovators, will more than offset the challenges. 2022 is already shaping up to be a strong year for the Australian agtech industry as its dynamic evolution and broader scale adoption continue to thrive.
* Andrew Coppin is a founding director of The Australian Agritech Association (ausagritech.org) and Managing Director of ag technology company Farmbot.