Agriculture is on the brink of a technological revolution, as farmers look to the latest innovations to boost productivity, reduce costs and save time.

Known as AgTech, agricultural technology could help the industry achieve $100 billion in annual revenues by 2030, according to a report from StartupAUS and KPMG. That’s nearly twice its current size, but what kind of AgTech will help drive this change?

Let’s take a closer look at some of technologies that are already bringing new levels of efficiency to farmers across Australia.

1. Cloud computing

Agriculture has been slower to adopt cloud computing than many other industries. Figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed just 9 per cent of agriculture, forestry and fishing businesses used paid cloud services in 2013-14 – the lowest of all sectors.

However, this has begun to change and cloud computing is now used for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Cloud-based supply chains: Goods can be tracked and paid for at every step of the process, with a recent National Australia Bank (NAB) report stating this can reduce insurance premiums by lowering counterparty risk.
  • Accounting software: Farmers can now maintain accounting records in a centralised electronic location using software that is specifically tailored to the industry’s regulations, subsidies and other factors.
  • Herd management apps: Agricultural workers can utilise a range of cloud-driven apps that store inventory information online and offer features to optimise livestock management.
AgTech is helping reduce the manual labour workloads on Australian farms.

2. Sensors and data analytics

Smart technology utilises wireless sensors to transmit and receive a range of data for agricultural purposes. Soil and air sensors can pick up changes in humidity, moisture and other conditions in real-time, with the information sent to fertilisation and irrigation systems for precision-based farming.

Similarly, sensors can be used for yield mapping, livestock management and crop supply tracking. Any collected data can then be analysed using complex algorithms to derive actionable insights.

3. Robotics and automation

Automation is affecting multiple industries worldwide, and Australian farmers are beginning to leverage the benefits. Whether it’s harvesting, picking, planting or ploughing, many traditionally labour-intensive tasks can now be done by machines.

For example, the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) recently unveiled AgBot II – a site-specific crop and weed-management tool. The robot has sensors, cameras and software that helps it navigate fields, apply fertiliser and target and kill weeds – all without human intervention. QUT researchers estimate the technology could save farmers $3.5 million a year.

Thanks to AgTech, agriculture is undergoing a period of dramatic change, and farmers must always be prepared for potential disruptions and unforeseen circumstances that could impact their operations.

Contact MGA Insurance Brokers today to discuss your farm insurance options.