Tales from Tasmania

During November I’ve been spending time in the magnificent North West of the Tasmania visiting bankers, accountants, consultants, farmers and attending field days.

The diversity of enterprises is astounding, with innovative producers challenging the “norm” and pushing the boundaries. It is this mindset of embracing and implementing change that will set the scene for agriculture to meet the ever-increasing global need for food and fibre.

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Technology and “big data” are providing a plethora of opportunity but at the same time a mine field of challenges. At the Forthside Vegetable Research Farm there were some incredible insights into the tools available to measure, monitor, predict and implement change. There was also discussion on the limitation to utilise all the data that can now be collected, internet speed is a real limitation in most of regional Australia forcing producers to look at options to “build” their own “super computers” to allow them to use and analyse on farm data being collected in real time.

It was also interesting to hear some highly regarded soil scientists making the point that whilst there is a large amount of high tech equipment available that can be utilised to gather and analyse data, ground truthing the data is critical to gain a cost-effective benefit. The smell, feel, appearance of soil and vegetation, observation of the behaviour of water in the landscape can tell a story as powerful as the information produced in a laboratory or by a drone or satellite.

It’s clear that agribusiness is attracting attention from an increasing number of service providers all vying for a share of the growing agribusiness “wallet” and it is now more important than ever for producers to gather a team of specialist advisors to assist with navigating the increasing “noise” in the market place.

Development projects without strategic planning inherently increase the financial risk profiles for producers; whilst there may be a projected benefit clearly articulating the benefit to stakeholders and bringing them on board for the duration of the project is the challenge.

Presentation to financiers of the financial cost vs benefit over the development phase of a project and the ultimate benefit vs movement in equity and cashflows on completion of requires significant expertise and understanding of the financial sector and the regulatory environment they have to work in.

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