August 2017: Discoveries


One of the hottest topics of discussion at the recent Australian Farm Institute Harvesting the Benefits of Digital Agriculture Conference was the interaction between people and technology and the effect on the rural workforce. This is probably not surprising given the potential that digital technology has to disrupt many of the jobs and tasks traditionally associated with farming and agribusiness.

There were many aspects of this interaction that were presented by various speakers and discussed vigorously by the conference delegates. Several scenarios were presented that had almost contradictory implications on the requirements for the future workforce and required skill sets.

For example, it is assumed that automation and robotics in agriculture is going to replace some farm labour. While this may be the case for very specific applications it was also recognised that one of the defining requirements of good farm labour is the necessity to be multi-skilled and be able to perform lots of different tasks around a farm. Automation and robotics works well for defined repetitive tasks but is not suited for the sort of multi-skilled applications that most farm labour is required to do

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