Making sense of our next revolutionAlex McBratney, Professor of Digital Agriculture and Soil Science, University of Sydney.16 Apr 2017, 4:45 a.m.Opinion Agriculture has always been innovative and farmers quick to embrace innovation. And the plough enabled our development, both in food production and population.AaIn movies that involve the country, there’s always disappointment. When you look at the detail of farming operations, they usually don’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense to see people tilling land in contemporary films. We don’t do that anymore.The obvious conclusion is the film media – and perhaps society at large – doesn’t really understand agriculture.
Today’s agriculture is risky, think climate change, but also amazingly high tech – it’s widely acknowledged the mining boom will be overtaken by the dining boom.Mining is now the economy’s most important sector, but we believe agriculture will become the number the one export sector within seven to 15 years.
Today’s agriculture attracts city dwellers and demands digital skills – information technology prowess and engineers – with robotics and precision agriculture merging, informed by and in answer to what shoppers actually say they want.
Australian agriculture is not only clean and green but increasingly clever; this is where we have a niche that is less susceptible to price elasticity, where we can be global price makers not takers. If we want to exit the race to the bottom (think $1 milk) and instead satisfy the huge and burgeoning demand for quality food and fibre, we will exploit our competitive advantage.