WIMMERA farmers will have more exposure to new agriculture technology after the state government launched its Digital Agriculture Strategy on Friday.
The $27-million strategy will aim to help farmers adopt digital technologies and includes a $12-million On-farm Internet of Things trial.
The trial will focus on the major sectors of dairy, broadacre cropping, sheep and horticulture in the regions surrounding Birchip, Serpentine, Tatura and Maffra.
Birchip region farmer Linc Lehmann will chair the broadacre cropping group to work with farmers to address their needs. Mr Lehmann said he was looking forward to working with growers to develop their skills.
“We’ll be throwing ideas around and to Agriculture Victoria to see what trials we need have on farms in relation to digital agriculture technology; it’s in the early stages at the moment,” he said.
“It’s very exciting to be able to represent the growers. It will be interesting to see what comes out of it. We’re using a lot of this digital ag technology at the moment, but probably not using it to its full advantage.
“It will be really good to see the more practical side to these things and get some of it on farms to see what can really be done with it.”
Mr Lehmann said he had dabbled in using technology at his Birchip cropping farm.
“I’m still learning about it, so this will also benefit me greatly, as well as the wider cropping family; being able to see what does and doesn’t work, and what’s practical and what’s not,” he said.
“We’re using a lot of basic forms at the moment – a lot of GPS systems and satellite technology for crops – but this will help us take that one step further.”
Mr Lehmann said it had been a tough season for many farmers.
“I can’t complain too much – I’ve got some reasonable crops and some ordinary crops,” he said.
“It’s a bit hit and miss, and I’m pretty happy with the wheat. There has been a lot of frost damage as well this year and it’s been very dry. We’ll probably start harvest in about three weeks.”
Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford said the strategy would encourage farmers to embrace technology.
“As Australia’s premier agriculture state and home of innovation, Victoria is well placed to lead agriculture’s digital revolution,” she said.
“We’re supporting and leading research in agricultural technologies, helping reduce barriers to widespread technology adoption on-farm, and building the digital capability in our sector.
“Our farmers are highly skilled and innovative – we look forward to working with them to harness the power of digital adoption.”