A study into digital inclusion and human factors of agtech adoption on Queensland farms

As global agricultural production methods and supply chains have become more digitised, farmers are adopting digital agtech (agricultural technology) such as drones, Internet of Things, remote sensors, blockchain, and satellite imagery to inform their on-farm decision-making.

While early adopters and technology advocates globally are spruiking and realising the benefits of digital agtech, many Australian farmers are reluctant or unable to participate fully in the digital economy. This is an important issue, as the Australian Government has said that digital farming is essential to meeting its target of agriculture being a $100billion industry by 2030.

Most studies of agtech adoption focus on individual-level barriers, yielding well-documented issues such as access to digital connectivity, availability of agtech suppliers, non-use of ICTs, and cost-benefit for farmers. In contrast, our project took an ‘ecosystems’ approach to understand how community-level orientations to digital agriculture enabled and constrained on-farm adoption.

We identified human factors of digital agtech adoption at the macro, regional and farm levels. Specifically, a ‘data divide’ emerged between farm and community level stakeholders, characterised by a capability gap between the provision of the devices and software that generate data by, and the ability of farmers to manage, implement, use, and maintain technologies effectively and independently.

  • Key findings are:
    • To address the ‘data divide’ mentioned in the project description, we make the following recommendations to leaders and practitioners within digital farming ecosystems:
      1. Support farmers to be discerning digital agtech consumers, but remove the onus for them to become ‘data scientists’
      2. Foster collaboration between technology providers
      3. Enable sector/regional leadership and capacity building for digital agtech adoption
      4. Support development of digital agronomy as standard practice amongst the new generation of farmer

Chief Investigators

Other Team Members

Dr Krystle Turner (QUT) Professor Michael Dezuanni (QUT) Mr Tim Neale

Partners

Other Partners

Data Farming