Article by Rebecca Craine
Earlier this month, CEAT Research Translation Initiative (RTI) team members, Vivienne Wells and Rebecca Craine, attended the Digital Agri-food Summit in Wagga Wagga to connect with colleagues and explore opportunities and innovations in the digital agriculture space.
This summit explored a range of topics in the digital agri-food space including: automation and hands-free farming, how digital agriculture can help meet challenges in sustainability and food security, circular economies, and the emerging carbon economy, as well as giving us a demonstration on how extended reality can be utilised in agriculture. We heard about the current advancements in each of these fields, as well as the challenges and roadblocks facing development. There are many opportunities being driven by people working in agri-tech, which provide potential for improved growth and sustainability in the agriculture sector.
We listened to a range of speakers with expertise in areas that would be enabled by digital agriculture, followed by panel discussions on each topic. Between these discussions, we were able to explore display stalls from companies involved in digital agri-tech, and listen to short presentations by researchers and entrepreneurs about their work in agri-tech. After the daytime activities, we attended a gala dinner where we heard about First Nations perspectives on agriculture. We also got the chance to visit the Charles Sturt University Global Digital Farm, where the university is employing some of these digital agri-tech innovations as they work towards creating an entirely automated “hands free” farm.
Throughout the conference, we heard about the importance of the technological, social, economic and policy-related changes that will be needed to achieve growth and stability of the digital agri-foods sector. These changes will need input from beyond just the sector, requiring interdisciplinary engagement to consult and bring together the work of experts across a range of fields.
CEAT’s Innovation Training Initiative (ITI) is engaging students from non-agriculture backgrounds such as STEM to expose them to the growing opportunities in the agriculture industry and demonstrate the rewarding career opportunities in the industry. Within RTI, CEAT is already working to address some of the challenges covered at the summit, for example by connecting researchers and industry to investigate remote soil carbon monitoring, or farm data security and management. CEAT’s work in building relationships and bringing together stakeholders across disciplines to address some of the challenges of sustainable agriculture can support digital technologies to bring great value to the agriculture industry.