Improving farmers’ lives and making farming practices more tech efficient has been the underlying mission of every agtech provider in the market, even those who were unsuccessful. Farmers know this and have been trying to improve their operations and systems by testing new tech and inventions for centuries.
While some agtech providers have been highly effective, what’s been missing for many of them has been the level of participation needed between farmers, land managers, scientists, and other stakeholders to share knowledge, ideas, and practices in a way that’s valuable and sustainable for all the players in the mix.
What does participation mean for farming communities? Participation is vital for any community to thrive, and this is especially true for farming communities. The more people participate positively in the community, the more vibrant and valuable it becomes. The relational bonds between farmers in their communities are formed by:
- Inclusion and participation.
- A common language and understanding of the challenges they face.
- Successfully overcoming challenges together by sharing vital information.
And this is where we find the contextual difference between farmers and new tech providers. The problem of participation in farming communities by agtech providers is not trivial. It’s got nothing to do with whether tech providers care enough to provide proper support—they care a great deal, or they wouldn’t be trying to make their offering.
In the start-up world of technology, anyone with a good idea is taught to start small. The underlying new technology principle is “what’s the least amount of work I need to do and money I need to spend to prove my hypothesis and create a business plan?” This principle is a sound practice in new business experimentation because it means less money wasted if the technology created doesn’t solve farmers’ problems.
The first problem we need to solve: Farming communities who have access to high-quality information are more likely to implement practices that are beneficial for the long-term conservation of their resources than those who do not have access. Finding a way to allow farmers to try new tech, while offering the support they need in their busy days is one way to bridge the divide between tech start-ups and their understandably cynical customers.
Both farmers and tech providers need data: Farmers can make better decisions more often for their businesses if they have reliable data. Tech companies need data about how their products are performing to know if or how they can be improved.I’m going to speak more about industry participation and how connecting farming communities is the key to a sustainable and profitable future for Australian agriculture.
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