PROFIT-boosting potential lies untapped in paddocks across the country as farmers under-utilise or ignore sensor technology.
Rabobank’s report Does Sensor Adoption Make Cents? Found 23 per cent of farmers used what is now widely available technology such as soil moisture probes, pump monitoring,drones, yield mapping and livestock identification technology.
Of those using sensors less than 70pc of those using sensors harnessed the data to improve on-farm decisions, and less than 40pc noted an improvement in profitability from the use of sensor technology.
Report author and Rabobank agricultural analyst Wesley Lefroy said there are commercial barriers to adoption holding back the benefits of agtech.
“For many farmers, the value proposition for many sensor technologies simply isn’t articulated clearly enough for farmers to determine they can generate a profit from it,” Mr Lefroy said.
“Tech companies have a big role to play in this, to ensure farmers can easily use the data to assist with decision-making, so ‘after-sales service’ is critical.”
“At the farmgate, there needs to be an increased emphasis on having adequate technological resources, and this goes beyond software and hardware management, as farmers also need to have the skills to analyse the data.”.
Rabobank surveyed 1000 producers taking a cross-section of across all regions, industries enterprise sizes.
The survey also found farms with incomes above $1 million have the highest uptake of sensors, at 57pc while farms with incomes below $300,000 reported a 10pc uptake.
Industry-by-industry, cotton recorded the highest uptake, with 78pc reporting sensor use.
The next highest rate of uptake by secotr was in grains sector, with 48 per cent. Interestingly, the large grain enterprises in the dry Northern Western Australia wheat belt recorded a 70pc sensor uptake, 30pc higher than anywhere else in the country.
Adoption rates in livestock were limited. Beef reported 10pc, sheep 12pc and dairy 20pc. Rabobank said the higher proportion of smaller enterprises in livestock was a contributing factor to low uptake.
“We also anticipate the significant cost, time and knowledge which is needed to extract value from some livestock orientated technology is limiting uptake,” Mr Lefroy said.