Broadband access and ICT implementation could help Australian farmers tackle a future full of hungry people, according to a new report.

The global food shortage is set to be a major hurdle on humanity’s horizon, but according to CSIRO’s report ‘Smart Farming: leveraging the impact of broadband and the digital economy’, producers can wield a number of high-tech tools to increase their yield.  

Colin Griffith, Director of The Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation, says “With food demand predicted to increase 50 per cent in the next 20 years, the main challenge facing the agricultural sector is not so much growing 70 per cent more food in 40 years, but making 70 per cent more food available on the plate. To tackle this challenge and help farmers make better decisions, we're trialling new broadband-enabled technologies such as cattle tags to track livestock as well as a range of sensor networks, which measure water salinity, soil moisture and even the heartbeat of oysters." 

Hollie Baillieu, Chair National Farmers' Federation 2050 Committee believes the digital economy presents a game changer for Australian agriculture; "not only will technology-driven productivity improvements help feed a growing population, but the innovations will also help improve farmers' bottom line and led to more profitable farm businesses. It doesn't matter whether we're talking about a cattle grazier from the Northern Territory or an oyster farmer in Tasmania, the benefits of emerging technologies provide opportunities for the entire farming sector," she said.

The’ Smart Farming: leveraging the impact of broadband and the digital economy’  report has been officially launched to industry and government stakeholders today, and is available at the CSIRO website.