What are the risks I am exposing myself to? Which macro-economic factors can start playing a role in my operation in years to come?
These are questions that farmers around Australia ask themselves on a daily basis, as being successful on the land revolves around managing risks. Farmers have plenty of tools at their disposal, from software that enables better farm management decisions through to crop insurance and weather derivatives, but it’s not only production and price risk that poses a problem.
There’s also uncertainty around how shifting government policy can affect farming. In fact, the Australian Farm Institute recently published a report that found “institutional risk is emerging as a serious concern.”
It’s a concern Agworld general manager Simon Foley shares: “With almost daily discussion about disruptive regulatory change brought about by social pressure – think of the discussions around the Murray-Darling Basin Plan and market access threats through contamination for example – growers are rightfully starting to worry about what might get thrown at them next, affecting the right to farm.”
Public debates regarding agriculture are often driven by emotion rather than an understanding of what actually happens on the land. It means more uncertainty and increased institutional risks for farmers, who can be sidelined in the conversation. It’s for this reason that Australian Agtech companies like Agworld and AgriWebb are encouraging growers and their advisors to start using digital tools to record their daily operations.
According to John Fargher, AgriWebb co-founder and CRO: “If farmers are able to demonstrate to key decision makers their dedication to safe and conscious food production, then that is a great tool to have. By recording everything they do on an independent platform and being able to use this for all sorts of reporting, farmers can bring science and facts back into these discussions.”
Mr Foley believes farmers, who use data to inform their operations day in, day out, could influence public and government decisions in a similar data-driven fashion. “Whether it’s crops or livestock a farmer focuses on, they need to keep records anyway for a multitude of reasons such as accreditations, audits and government biosecurity regulations,” he says. “By improving the way their data is easily recorded and stored, it can be used to influence public opinion and decision-making processes as well and help mitigate institutional and even market access risks.”
Creating, collecting and storing data isn’t only important to growers. “Trusted advisors such as agronomists and reseller organisations can play a significant role here as well,” Mr Foley says. “They can advise their growers as to which options they have available to collect and store data, and even become a part of the process through creating observations and recommendations on digital tools in collaboration with their clients.”
Mr Fargher understands that some growers have questions about how their data is stored and who has access to it. “They are apprehensive of having a third party that provides products or services also having access to their farm data, in fear it could potentially influence future price and service levels,” he says.
“I just hope this doesn’t stop growers and their advisors from creating a technology plan to collect and use their data for their own and their industry’s advantage; they just have to make sure they choose a trusted and independent platform that keeps their data safe with clear data privacy policies.”
“Farming is all about managing risk, data is a risk management tool that will only become more important in the future; the sooner growers and their advisors start to leverage this, the more powerful it becomes.”
Agworld helps growers and agronomists around the world to collect data at all levels and share this with everyone that is important to their farming operation. Because of this, Agworld users are able to make more profitable decisions. To find out more about Agworld, contact our team.