That’s according to a new report by AgriFutures Australia, commissioned to give producers awareness of the depth and breadth of available space technologies, the potential uses and insights into what is coming over the next decade.
The Australian National University (ANU) study, Space-based technologies – opportunities for the rural sector, found that improvements to geolocation alone could benefit Australian agriculture by $2.2 billion over a 30-year period¹, and satellite connectivity can add $15.6 billion to gross value of production across agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries each year².
While these are big numbers, space technologies are already making their mark. Producers are routinely using satellite imaging, low bandwidth sensors, GPS tracking, autosteer, paddock level imagery and weather forecasting to drive better decision making.
For most producers, many of these turn–key technologies rely on space and we don’t even realise it.
AgriFutures Australia Senior Manager, Rural Futures, Jennifer Medway said space has traditionally been the realm of sectors like mining and defence and we are only on the cusp of unlocking opportunities for the rural sector.
“It’s exciting. The farmer of the future will have space technology fully integrated into their everyday production systems and decision making. For instance, dashboards will enable farmers to remotely manage manual processes, and interoperable data systems will radically shift the way on-farm decisions are made.”
“All this is made possible through space technology, which has the potential to revolutionise the working day of tomorrow’s farmers,” Ms Medway said.
Initiatives such as AgriFutures’ evokeAG is connecting farmers, tech developers, researchers and even the Australian Space Agency, to accelerate the development of space technologies for agriculture, and in turn, introducing new ways of doing things.
The SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre is investing in a $245 million research program in advanced telecommunications, intelligent satellite systems, Earth observation and remote sensing analytics. The Australian Space Agency has a mandate to triple the size of the domestic space industry by 2030³.
“Agriculture’s time is now. To stay competitive and continue to up the ante on increasing productivity and sustainability, we need to look to fixes ‘outside the square’. Space technology is one of those fixes,” Ms Medway said.
Centre for Entrepreneurial Agri-Technology, Industry Engagement Senior Manager, Martin Amidy said a scenario whereby a farmer can manage multiple tasks in real time at the click of a button is now a reality. Though practical and cost effective solutions will be key to adoption.