Grey MP Rowan Ramsey, chairman of a standing committee on agriculture and industry, tabled the committee’s report on farm innovation and predicted a “boom” in the industry. He told parliament that “Australia has always been a world leader in agricultural innovation”. The key to huge development of agriculture was the application of new technology to individual farms, backed by government.
Mr Ramsey said the committee members had been excited the potential of agriculture and the “almost endless” opportunities for efficiencies, improvements and increased production as a result of new technology.
“Agricultural innovation is drawing on a wide range of disciplines, such as agricultural science, chemistry, engineering and information technology,” he said.
“The committee was particularly focussed on identifying the barriers to technological advances, adoption of new technology and suggesting solutions.
“Apart from a large range of contributors who came to Canberra, the committee made some enlightening visits to the University of New England Smart Farm, Sydney University’s Agricultural Robotics Centre and the Alpine Valleys Pathway Project near Wodonga.
“Some of the work going on in the field and its possibilities is extremely exciting.
“Recommendations were made in the report including urging the government to continue its commitment to the mobile phone black spot program and driving research into on-farm communications systems.
“We called for some changes to research and development structures to boost research and improved chemical registration procedures and made a number of recommendations around providing national conformity for plant genetic research and registration.
“The inquiry took a considerable amount of evidence which highlighted a lack of recruitment of students to agricultural careers and particularly those with high proficiencies in science, technology, engineering and maths.”
Mr Ramsey said there was a “potential boom in agriculture on our doorstep”.
“The agriculture sector must be able to make the most of this boom in order to support productivity growth and to maintain its competitiveness,” he said.
“At the core of the innovation boom are individual farm businesses that make decisions to adopt new technologies. If the government wishes to support innovation and growth, it must support these businesses in technology adoption.”