Many farmers could not see how they could make money out of much of the agricultural technology that was being released on to the market, Discovery Ag chief development officer John Pattinson said.
Speaking at the Westpac brunch at the 2018 Sungold Field Days, Mr Pattinson said much of the investment in agricultural technology seemed to be “a lot of smart dudes building wonderful hammers but they did not know what a nail looked like.”
Much of the investment in agricultural technology is a lot of smart dudes building wonderful hammers but not knowing what a nail looked like.John Pattinson
Mr Pattinson said technology was enabling the collection of a lot of data about agricultural practice but the challenge was to unlock the potential of that data.
“Unless you can monetise it, it (data collection) is not a good deal,” he said.
Mr Pattinson said Discovery Ag, a private sector firm, was collecting a lot of data for the cotton industry in NSW, using equipment that monitored inputs such as moisture and nutrition.
That data collection enabled cotton producers to more efficiently use water so they could produce more cotton, he said.
“We are getting results in a quantifiable evidence-based approach,” Mr Pattinson said.
He said his company had found opportunities to increase water efficiencies in the cotton industry and it was likely better data collection could find opportunities for more efficient water use in the dairy industry.
He said one of the factors that determined the success of dairy farmers was their ability to convert water into grass.
“That is what makes a profitable farm manager,” Mr Pattinson said.
The use of water probes could provide dairy farmers with information that would allow them to apply ‘the right amount of water at the right time,” he said.
“We need to articulate the value of it (data collection) back to the farmgate,” Mr Pattinson said.
He said the more efficient use of resources such as water also provided agricultural industries with opportunities to market themselves as responsible users of resources.
An apparel manufacturer had taken such an approach, using the water savings in the production of its textiles as a selling point, he said.