Emerging Trends

To take advantage of the many changes and opportunities on the horizon, Australia’s rural industries need to be able to predict and prepare for what’s coming. AgriFutures Australia is leading the way by spotting issues and opportunities early and helping the sector get ready for what lies ahead.

Australia’s rural industries operate in a complex and dynamic environment and often face a common set of evolving challenges and opportunities due to global, national and local change.

AgriFutures Australia plays a vital role in helping Australia’s farmers both see and prepare for these changes.


  • Horizon scanning to spot emerging issues early
  • Proactively manage national rural issues such as regulation, consumer perceptions, social licence to farm, and technology adoption
  • Assist farmers to embrace new technologies to remain competitive.

Research findings

In its 2015 report, AgriFutures Australia identified five ‘megatrends’ that will drive change within the agricultural sector over a 20 year horizon:

  • A hungrier world: population growth will drive global demand for food and fibre
  • A wealthier world: a new middle-income class will increase food consumption, diversify diets and eat more protein
  • Choosy customers: information-empowered consumers of the future will have expectations for health, provenance, sustainability and ethics
  • Transformative technologies: advances in digital technology, genetic science and synthetics will change the way food and fibre products are made and transported
  • A bumpier ride: globalisation, climate change and environmental change will reshape the risk profile of agriculture.

Other trends Australian rural industries must contend with, identified through AgriFutures Australia research, include:

  • Increasing export earnings from agriculture
  • Diversification in exports
  • The rise of emerging economies
  • Decline in land used for farming
  • An ageing workforce
  • A shrinking workforce
  • Increasing labour productivity

Despite the uncertainty, this is an exciting time for agriculture.


The 2019 report, the final report of a three-year project, aimed to unearth new ways to move Australian agriculture forward identified 39 emerging technologies and 24 new industries.

The latest watchlist of 24 potential emerging agricultural industries that provide opportunities for development included medicinal marijuana, hemp milk, and hydroponic berries, Asian vegetables, hydroponic hops, Australian edible natives, insect farming, wild camel and goat harvesting. While emerging technologies were identified in robotics and artificial intelligence, data, biotechnology, genomics, business models, renewable energy, and advanced materials.

AgriFutures Australia is uniquely positioned to seek collaborations that tackle these emerging trends and build capacity for cross-sectoral research efforts.

Working together and sharing knowledge and experience is key. This is demonstrated through our secretariat role for the Climate Change Research Strategy for Primary Industries (CCRSPI) which addresses opportunities and challenges posed by climate change.

AgriFutures Australia is also playing a leading role in informing people about technologies that will transform the sector. By understanding new and emerging technologies including sensors, drones and robots, autonomous vehicles, smart irrigation systems, 3D printing and what they offer, we can take our place as the go-to resource for relevant information and quality research that will deliver maximum value for rural industries.


Michael Beer
General Manager, Business Development

Related publications


Horizon Scanning Opportunities for New Technologies and Industries


Fact Sheet: Horizon Scan 6


Horizon Scan 6


Fact Sheet: Horizon Scan 5