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Soil health, water scarcity and energy costs biggest risks- NAB Farmer survey

  • By: Farm Tender "Prime"
  • Dec 14, 2017

  * 87% of farmers cite soil health as their biggest sustainability concern followed by water scarcity (83%) and energy costs (83%)
  * 739 farmers surveyed; on average using 2.5 of possible 8 AgTech solutions tested.
  * The most used agricultural technology across all sectors is management accounting software (51%) followed by automation (37%)

There is enormous potential for Australian farmers to increase the use of new technologies on-farm to increase yields, minimise waste and improve the bottom line, as well as to mitigate risks such as growing climate variability.

That’s the major finding from a report published by NAB Agribusiness, Backing Rural Australia – Future-proofing our farmers through sustainability and AgTech solutions.

Khan Horne, General Manager NAB Agribusiness said, “Our customers are consistently telling us that sustainability is at the forefront of issues affecting the industry, and they’re already seeing the benefits of AgTech in many areas,” Mr Horne said.

“However, it’s still early days in terms of on-farm application for many solutions – partly because of connectivity and similar issues, and partly because farmers want to be convinced some of the available AgTech can deliver on the promises that have been made.”

The report is based on the results of a survey, where NAB customers were asked about their use of eight emerging technologies currently transforming agriculture, and their attitudes to natural capital risks.

“On average, we found customers are only using 2.5 AgTech solutions, and 25 per cent of all respondents are not currently using any of the eight on the list,” Mr Horne said.

“When it comes to on-farm technology, cropping industries are well ahead of the average on many of the AgTech solutions in the survey, such as spot spray technology to reduce chemical use.

“The horticultural industry is leading the way with automation and climate soil sensors.”

The other technologies surveyed were farm management accounting software; digital markets and supply chains; imaging; livestock sensors and biometrics; and predictive decision support software.

“For the third year of the survey, soil health, water scarcity and energy costs were rated as the three most important businesses risks, by more than 80 per cent of respondents.

Mr Horne said there is a huge range of AgTech solutions available to help Australian agribusinesses and the bank can support this by providing world class financial services to enable our customers to take advantage of this new technology to be both more sustainable and profitable.”

The survey involved telephone interviews conducted with 739 NAB Agribusiness customers across different states, business activities and profiles.