The future of agricultural technologies
The adoption of emerging agricultural technology could help to respond to future trends and catalyse the transformational change needed in the agricultural sector, in terms of profitability, sustainability and productivity.
These are among the findings of a panel of experts in a new report from the Australian Council of Learned Academies (ACOLA) titled: The Future of agricultural technologies.
The panel argues that supporting transformational change in agriculture requires both the creative combination of multiple technologies and provision of institutional, regulatory and communications infrastructure to enable collaboration and innovation. Agriculture industries must work together as a cohesive sector to determine how best to capture and integrate provenance, production and environmental information to enhance product value and enable diversification, taking into account trends in consumer values and preferences.
The report examines the impacts of nine technologies on the agriculture sector. These technologies include sensors, internet of things, robotics, machine learning, large scale optimisation and data fusion, biotechnology, nanotechnology, and distributed ledger technology. These technologies present opportunities to improve the efficiency and profitability of agricultural production, to develop novel agricultural industries and markets, and to contribute to a range of social and environmental values.
ACOLA’s report is the fifth in the Horizon Scanning series, each report scopes the human implications of fast-evolving technologies in the decade ahead.
The project was supported by the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.
“Historically, Australian producers have been rapid adopters of innovation, and these emerging technologies will help our agriculture sector to transform and tackle current and future challenges ”
Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel
The project report The future of agricultural technologies was released on 29 September 2020.
The Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, The Hon David Littleproud MP, welcomed the report saying: “This comprehensive body of work makes it abundantly clear that strategic investment in the development of new tech is critical if agriculture is to stay ahead of the game.”
The Minister’s media release can be viewed here: Report confirms new technology will drive agriculture’s fertile future
Expert Working Group
ACOLA, for its established ability to deliver interdisciplinary evidence-based research that draws on specialist expertise from Australia’s Learned Academies, convenes the Agricultural technologies Expert Working Group (EWG) to guide the development of a targeted study that draws input from several disciplines to create a well-considered, balanced and peer-reviewed report. The role of the EWG is to provide strategic oversight and provide expert input, analysis and provocative thinking.
ACOLA’s expert working group for The future of agricultural technologies report is comprised of:
Supported by Michelle Steeper, Dr Emily Finch, Dr Lauren Palmer, Ryan Winn and the generous contributions of many experts throughout Australia and New Zealand. A full list of contributors can be found in the written submissions section of the report.
This report has been reviewed by an independent panel of experts. Members of this review panel were not asked to endorse the Report’s conclusions and findings. The Review Panel members acted in a personal, not organisational, capacity and were asked to declare any conflicts of interest.
ACOLA gratefully acknowledges their contribution.
|Dr Peter Dodds FAA||Dr Tony Fischer AM FTSE|
|Professor John Freebairn FASSA||Professor Libby Robin FAHA|
|Dr Lauren Palmer||Ryan Winn|
Project Funding and Support
This project has been kindly supported by the Australian Government through the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.
ACOLA also gratefully acknowledges the contribution of our project stakeholders; Office of the Chief Scientist; Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.
ACOLA and the Expert Working Group offer their sincere gratitude to the many experts from Australia and New Zealand who have contributed to the evidence gathering of this report by way of input papers. Further information of these contributions can be found in ‘evidence gathering’.
We also gratefully acknowledge the expertise and contributions from our project stakeholders. In particular, we would like to acknowledge Dr Alan Finkel, Lisa Kerr and Dr Penny Leggett from the Office of the Chief Scientist. We also thank our peer reviewers for the time and effort they have provided in reviewing the report.
We would like to thank Dr Kate Fairley-Grenot for her time and contributions as both an expert working group member and chair of the project from November 2018 to September 2019.
Our thanks to the EWG who put a great deal of time, effort, and insight into coordinating the report’s conceptualisation and production, and also to the ACOLA team, in particular Michelle Steeper, Dr Emily Finch, Dr Lauren Palmer and Ryan Winn who made significant contributions to supporting the EWG and managing the project.
Acknowledgement of Country
ACOLA acknowledges the Traditional Owners and custodians of the lands on which our company is located and where we conduct our business. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.