Agribusiness and food techConstruction and infrastructureHealthcare and pharmaceuticalTechnology and sustainability

The future of Aussie agriculture

Posted by: Danielle Moore at March 09, 2022

Australia is headed for a bumper agricultural season, supported by strong global commodity prices. While this will be a tremendous windfall for farmers and associated industries, it’s not going to be plain sailing.

Some of the dangers lurking for Australian agriculture are labour restrictions, supply chain disruptions, AdBlue shortages, and ever-present natural disasters. While there are ways we can minimise their impact, we need to ramp up innovation to make sure we can maintain this momentum and stay internationally competitive.

We need to start looking ahead now to how we can sustain output and quality in this $45bn sector of our economy.

Benefits of innovation are worth the cost

According to the National Farmers Federation (NFF) 2030 Roadmap, the vision is that by 2030 Australia is a world leader in cutting edge science and technology that improves the quality of products and reduces their cost of production. This is a bold aspiration; currently, we rank 76th globally for innovation efficiency, and last in the OECD for research collaboration.

The NFF Roadmap spells out several actions designed to deliver us world-class research tools and a competitive edge in agriculture. These include scaling up our R&D efforts, commercialising our research outputs, investing in tech and people, and ensuring regulation doesn’t hinder access to technology.

The benefits of innovation are clear though. The Australian Farm Institute (AFI) estimates that the adoption of digital agriculture, for example, could boost our agricultural industry by $20.3bn. Areas needing attention to get us there include adequate internet connectivity for every Australian farm, the seamless exchange of data, and applying connectivity and digital farming practices.

Energy in agriculture also needs attention; it currently accounts for more than 70% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions. To remove this obstacle, we will need policy reform in electricity and transport, a transition to renewable energy sources, research in new energy crop varieties, and EV-friendly regional towns and cities.

While these are big picture future goals that offer promise, what are some of the practical innovations that are starting to transform our agricultural industry?


The demand for traceability has been heightened by the pandemic and by increasingly aware consumers who want to know where their food comes from. The agriculture industry can use blockchain and digital record-keeping to create a single source of truth for on-farm production data. This will enable traceability and biosecurity and give our products a stamp of assurance and quality that will be welcomed worldwide.


This area has expanded way beyond initial efforts, which focused awareness on how to minimise environmental impact and combat climate change. Using data-driven technology, farmers can now forecast soil nutrition needs and future seasons, which will let them use more regenerative practices that reduce chemical use.

Our Emissions Reduction Fund incentivises farmers to cut greenhouse gases emissions and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation dedicates investment into carbon-conscious innovation.

CSIRO, our national scientific R&D agency, has commercialised some of the world’s leading innovations around greenhouse gas emissions. One example is the development of animal feed supplements with ‘red seaweed’, which can reduce bovine methane emissions by 80%. Another is the Chameleon: a sensor tool that reads soil moisture and relays the health of the land back to the farmer.

However, this type of R&D and innovation doesn’t come cheap – it needs both private and government funding. Government is starting to come to the party, with federal investment in a $600m a year programme in agricultural R&D one example. Another is the South Australian government’s introduction of the Livestock AgTech Adoption Rebate, which encourages livestock producers to invest in new technologies.

Leading innovation

Here’s a list of other agricultural innovations that are being used increasingly to lift the productivity and efficiency of Australian farming:

Geographic Information Systems (GIS). These provide vital information in weather and climate and can model erosion, predict crop yields and irrigation needs, and model the impact of climate change.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. AI and ML technologies are being used to crunch data to improve agricultural yields and quality. Used in conjunction with drones equipped with intelligent sensors and visual data, AI can detect, for example, areas most infected with pests.

Automation. Companies are increasingly using robotic innovation to build drones, autonomous tractors, robotic harvesters, automatic watering, and seeding robots. These are being used by farmers to introduce automation into their processes.

Farm management software. This field of innovation includes mobile apps, websites, and computer programs built specifically for the agricultural sector. These help farmers make better production and operational decisions using better organisation, record-keeping, regulatory compliance, and environmental impact assessments.

Gene editing. The Australian government has decided to strike a middle ground in allowing the use of gene-editing tools like CRISPR, which promise things like non-browning mushrooms, drought-resistant crops and even lab-grown meat.

A better way

Australian agriculture of the future will harness these technologies and allow farms to be more profitable, efficient, safe, and environmentally friendly. Despite sometimes high entry costs, early adopters that embraced the shift to farming of the future are starting to reap the rewards.

One example is SwarmFarm Robotics, who are at the forefront of autonomous agriculture. Back in 2012, the pioneering founders partnered with two universities to develop their prototype – an autonomous RTV. Two years later, they built their first SwarmBot – a three-wheeled machine weighing only 300kg. Now, their machines are empowering farmers to use new methods and field practices to revolutionise food production.

How Rebus can help

You might have an ambitious and innovative dream like SwarmFarm, or simply want to improve your productivity and efficiency using the latest technology. If so, are you capital-ready? Are you set up and able to accelerate your growth through these ever-changing times?

We’re hearing from the market there’s likely to be a backlog for funding as the economy continues to open back up and particularly in the Agri sector. If you want to innovate your business to capitalise on the agricultural boom, it’s wise to plan for funding now.

Here at Rebus, we like to start conversations with funders well ahead of time, so our clients’ future is secured. Get in touch and let’s talk about your plans.

Danielle Moore

The Trustee for the Rebus Capital Partners Unit Trust ABN 88 452 904 420. Authorised Credit Representative 523233 under Australian Credit Licence 536100.