With precision farming, smart tractors, drones, and plants animals monitored by sensors, the agricultural industry of the 21st century looks very different from the past.

Just as industry 4.0 is driving innovation in manufacturing, agriculture 4.0 is making digital farming a reality.

With a growing population, and the impact of farming on climate change a growing issue, the agricultural industry is looking to ways to make farming more efficient and cost-effective.

Investors and researchers are looking to Australia to develop the agricultural and food technologies of the future.

With connections with the rapidly growing markets of Asia, Australia is capitalising on these advantages to become a centre for agtech and foodtech innovation.

The projects driving Australia’s agriculture 4.0 boom

Australia’s government has invested more than A$600m a year in agricultural research and development, and supports a National Farmers’ Federation initiative to grow Australian agriculture to a A$100bn industry by 2030. Last week, the Australian government launched a new drive to seek investment from the UK to help boost exports and fund innovation in agriculture 4.0 in Australia.

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Australian Trade and Investment Commission Austrade is launching Australia for Ag, an initiative to encourage innovation and foreign investment in the future of the country’s ag-tech industry.

According to Australia Financial Review, agriculture 4.0 in Australia in thriving, with over 300 start-ups producing innovative solutions to problems such as drought, plant disease and livestock management.

To build on the progress in agriculture 4.0 in Australia, Austrade has developed a new digital platform showcasing the capabilities and insights from the Australian agtech and foodtech sector, and connect investors, exporters and research partners to Australia’s government, private sector and academic leaders and stakeholders in the field.

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Simon Birmingham said:

“Our farmers are some of the most innovative in the world but we’re behind the pack when it comes to commercialising our food and farming technologies. This initiative is about connecting investors with Australian farmers and AgTech start-ups as well as creating more collaborative research and development opportunities.”

The initiative is designed to look at how new technologies can be adopted by the country’s agricultural industry, connect farmers with startups and research institutions, test solutions that can then be exported around the world, and respond to global challenges such as managing resources and consumer demand.

Companies are also investing in the country’s emerging industry, with Cisco establishing innovation centres in Perth and Sydney. Leveraging the country’s strong agriculture industry, Cisco Australia is currently trialling a new innovation in agtech.

The Farm Decision Platform is being trialled in New South Wales and Victoria to provide farmers with real-time data across their farms. The platform provides on-farm, secure connectivity over long distances and supports any third-party application/sensor.

Karen Caston, Senior Investment Specialist, Agribusiness and Food, at Austrade:

“Australian farmers and food producers are recognised globally for their innovation, using technology to drive consistent productivity growth, develop better quality products and build globally competitive businesses. Despite facing some of the harshest environmental and climate conditions on the planet, they have made the country a top five producer of barley, oats, chickpeas, almonds, beef, sheep and wool.

“Australian agricultural and food producers are also quick to harness cutting-edge technologies to deliver high-quality, traceable raw materials and products to export markets. Our agtech and foodtech solutions are turning heads around the world, and we are seeing increasing interest from UK investors and research partners who see Australia as a testing ground or regional base for further development and entrepreneurship.”