A moment of brilliance from Julia Jones at the recent Farmax conference was the epiphany that “the future has always been unknown”. Not only did she bring an abundance of energy, but she made me sit up and listen. The only constant is the unknown of the future.
A key change we are seeing now is the significant advancement in digital technologies. With better tools we can fine tune the farming system and make the adaptations needed to succeed in our ever-changing world. For instance, we know that we need to:
- reduce inputs for environmental sustainability,
- maintain farm profitability, and
- continue to challenge profitability.
There are many digital tools out there, developed by multiple companies to provide innovative solutions to the farming challenges. To meet the optimistic emissions targets, we now need to pool our resources and collaborate to expediate success; we need a strategy.
More effective use of data is a critical component of the way forward. The recent OECD Economic Survey looked at what New Zealand agriculture needed to do to address sustainability targets. Among its key recommendations was this: “Ensure interoperability across digital platforms by requiring AgriTech players to adopt common standards, while letting them choose the most suitable common standards to converge to” (OECD Economic Surveys: New Zealand 2022 © OECD 2022).
This recommendation makes a lot of sense to me. Data collected on-farm can help with immediate decision making – around crops and pastures, production, and animal health – but it can also be combined to help farmers make strategic decisions about emissions and how their farms interact with the environment.
Farmers already use a variety of tools to make on-farm decisions and to collect data. Mandating a single tool that must do everything won’t help most farmers. Neither will another official calculator that is disconnected from other tools. Data interoperability allows farmers and those they work with to choose the tools that work in their daily operations – while still being confident the data can also be used to answer other questions. We need to support and encourage the wide range of agritech and software companies to adopt common standards and facilitate interoperability. By sharing information through data platforms, such as Pure Farming, we can work to solve problems in innovative ways, strengthening the industry for the future.
What is your data strategy?