Conference Topic Overview

The Digital Revolution in Agriculture

7-8 August 2017, Canberra


Topic Overview

The digital revolution has dramatically impacted our daily life, with change occurring at an increasingly rapid pace. Our annual conference aims to shine a light on this transformational and evolving technology and its realised and potential impacts in agriculture and development for food security.

The collection, collation, analysis and application of data, digitally, has transformed global agriculture. It has done this by enabling:

  • better informed and spatially precise decisions on the application of irrigation, nutrients, herbicides and pesticides;
  • more accurate data about harvests and yields which feeds back into farmers’ decisions; and
  • sounder decision making along supply chains from demand driven plant breeding, food processing and delivery of products into markets.

Analysis of large data sets at global, regional, country and farm level has also seen big developments in fields like genomics, crop modelling and forecasting, drought prediction, soil property mapping and biosecurity related issues.

Whilst many developing countries have shared in this transformation – including through mobile telephony – access to data and information for small-holder farmers in developing countries is relatively patchy, and in some cases non-existent, due to poor data collection, lack of analysis and inadequate methods for dissemination of key information back to farmers and along the supply chain. But the potential is great.

The 2017 Parliamentary Conference asked, “could access to and better interpretation of data and information herald improvement in agricultural productivity and profitability in developing countries, and Australia, comparable in impact to the Green Revolution?” 

Once again, we drew on Australian and world’s best experts and practitioners to help us answer the question.

Keynote and overview presentations addressed:

  • how improved access and use of data and information can transform small-holder farmers’ lives and livelihoods;
  • the impediments to improved use, describing some success stories where such impediments have been overcome.
  • how ICT in the hands of the farmers is adding value and impact; and
  • the role of the Internet of Things in innovation platforms.

Each of these presentations were followed by specialist case studies showing impact and raising important questions about ownership of data, and implementation for impact and spread of success which can be considered in the extended question and answer sessions.

We ended the day with a final panel of our two keynote speakers with this year’s Sir John Crawford Memorial Address presenter to consider what is needed to overcome impediments to successful use of big data for transforming agricultural systems.

The full program and speaker information are available for further information.