NBN, builder and operator of the national broadband network, says helping farmers unlock a potential $15.6 billion in extra output through wider adoption of digital technologies is now a major priority.
The NBN has released economic modelling by AlphaBeta Advisors which found wider uptake of digital management tools was needed to achieve the National Farmers Federation's vision of annual farmgate production hitting $100 billion by 2030.
The AlphaBeta report was available late last year but the NBN delayed its release while farmers dealt with devastating drought followed by widespread bushfires.
NBN chief development officer of regional development and engagement Gavin Williams said precision agriculture provided a clear opportunity to boost economic growth during the next 10 years.
The AlphaBeta report concluded internet-enabled digital tools could lift the value of farm production by $15.6 billion (20 per cent) with $8 billion from technologies that collect information to help producers make data-driven decisions to manage their farms through precision farming.
Technologies that provide farmers with real-time information about the state and performance of their farms, such as soil moisture sensors for water efficiencies, had the potential to add another $4.3 billion, he said.
Farm automation which replaced human labour including autonomous tractors had the potential to contribute another $3.3 billion.
Mr Willliams said NBN was now expanding numbers of expert staff who could show farmers how they could connect to decision-making and time-saving technologies.
"We want to make it easy for farmers to answer the question: 'what's in it for me'," he said.
Mr Williams said NBN had started working with farm organisations and technology providers to build pilot programs to look at the specific applications of digital tools.
"My team is scaling up numbers of community engagement professionals in regional Australia," he said.
"We are building up our capabilities in the ag sector to enable us to have deeper conversations, we are pivoting from building our network to how to utilise the national infrastructure."
Mr Williams said NBN's network now covered just about every home and business in Australia.
"The fixed wireless network is almost complete, we've got about 50 towers to complete that build, we've got about 2200 towers in place now."
Satellite provided broadband coverage via the Sky Master service for users without access to fixed wireless or fixed line connections, he said.
NBN now had around 100,000 Sky Master customers, about 25pc of the 400,000 homes and businesses that could potentially connect.
"That signals to me that we have an awareness gap we have to work on, NBN is actually available when some farmers might think it's not," Mr Williams said.
The AlphaBeta research showed every state would benefit from making full use of internet-enabled digital technologies with NSW leading the way ($3.7 billion a year) followed by Victoria ($3.5b), Queensland ($3.4b), Western Australia ($2.4b), South Australia ($1.9 billion), Tasmania ($50 million) and the Northern Territory ($10m).
Industry-wise the biggest winners would be dryland cropping ($5.7b), extensive livestock ($4.3b) and horticulture ($3.7b).
NFF chief executive Tony Mahar said the peak body was excited about what could be possible in agriculture with the support of technology.
"Whether adopting sensors and analytics to help increase crop yields or using robotics to automate dangerous tasks and reduce workforce risks, there is significant scope for connected farming to grow exponentially across Australia, particularly as technology and infrastructure improves."
The story Ag can earn extra $15.6 billion by harnessing technology says NBN first appeared on Farm Online.