Collaboration the key to overcoming agtech adoption barrier on-farm
Developing innovative solutions and technology to make agriculture easier, more profitable, or sustainable is one thing, but getting farmers to use it is often a challenge. A new initiative by Farmers2Founders (F2F), is focused on breaking down the critical barriers to agtech adoption by putting the farmer first, building connections and removing some of the risk.
F2F Manager of Agtech Projects, Matt Anderson said adoption is a big hurdle for the evolving agtech industry and F2F TEKFARM™ is tackling the challenge in a unique way.
He said the accelerated on-farm adoption program establishes connections between three target groups: producers; intermediaries like consultants, advisors, and industry groups; and agtech providers.
“Across those groups there are a range of challenges to adoption and F2F TEKFARM™ has a unique approach to resolve those issues in a collaborative manner,” Matt said.
“Our goal is to support Australian farmers to become more sustainable, profitable and productive through the adoption of technology.”
Farmers2Founders has built a new digital platform which collates, analyses and evaluates problem areas and challenges raised by farmers to facilitate match-ups with solution providers, and this is integral to the F2F TEKFARM™ initiative.
“This platform facilitates the connections between problem holders, problem solvers, tech companies and industry intermediaries,” he said.
Collaboration and capacity building
Matt sees tremendous value in getting the right people in the room at the beginning of the adoption process.
“We get the farmers to describe what their problems are and what they want from technology,” Matt said.
“We then connect them with the best tech companies, both in Australia and globally, for a collaborative, de-risked agtech trial or implementation process. This means that fit-for-purpose technology is put in the hands of the farmer, who is supported to integrate the technology within their business and gain the maximum benefit possible.”
A key part of F2F TEKFARM™ is building capacity and Farmers2Founders will be delivering projects across a variety of regions and industries.
Matt said when it comes to producers, there’s value for both early tech adopters and those who want to learn more.
“The value for a producer is very much about building their technology skills and gaining an understanding of how agtech can integrate with their farming practices to improve their productivity, profitability and sustainability,” Matt said.
“The F2F digital platform showcases what the problem is first and makes tech selection and matches based on the solutions that genuinely solve that problem.”
He said this will help take out some of the concern about whether a technology solution offers a suitable return on investment.
“The platform allows us to make that assessment and say, ‘these are the best three solutions that might respond to your needs, they’re worth checking out, and they’ve ticked the boxes you’ve set for yourself as an individual producer’ taking out the snake oil and reducing fear or concern.”
F2F TEKFARM™ is already upskilling industry, trusted advisors, consultants and agronomists; giving them the tools and expertise to guide their clients to transform their farming business with technology. It also provides an important feedback loop enabling agtech providers to tailor products and respond to the needs of consumers.
“Tech companies are not always great at communicating the value of technology in practical terms, and they might not understand how technology fits within existing farming systems,” Matt said.
“We provide incubation for agtech start-ups that have products in the market but are looking for assistance to refine their solution so they can better resolve their customer challenges.”
Pilot program success
South Australian Angus cattle breeder Julian Maul took part in the F2F TEKFARM SA pilot project.
He was drawn by the opportunity to learn what was happening in the agtech industry and found the producer-centred approach a refreshing change.
“It felt like they were tipping the traditional model on its head,” he said. “A lot of people come up with ideas and then go looking for markets but what Farmers2Founders did was seek out a producer’s perspective of what the problems are and ideas to solve those problems.”
In his cattle breeding operation Julian must collect, collate and store data to meet government regulations, manage animal health and farm production, and provide information for genetic evaluation programs.
He was looking for a tech solution to bring it all together.
“There’s an opportunity to make life easier for seedstock producers and breed societies but also commercial producers who are increasingly collecting and making use of data,” he said.
While it hasn’t delivered a silver bullet yet, Julian said the F2F TEKFARM™ project has led to some exciting possibilities.
“Farmers are full of ideas, we come up with them on the tractor or when pushing a mob of cattle along, but are often reluctant to share them. This program brought people together to discover they’re not alone and it’s given people the confidence to push ideas further.”
Not just ‘more’ technology but the ‘right’ technology
Matt said F2F TEKFARM™ will have global reach.
“Farmers2Founders are passionate supporters of Australian agtech, but it is a small community, and we don’t have all the solutions here,” he said.
“Our main goal is to support farmers to be more profitable and sustainable so if the solutions farmers are looking for are overseas then we want to bring them here and ensure that our farmers can benefit from them. So, we support international agtech start-ups to scale-up and launch here.”
There are also opportunities for partnerships with industry groups to run F2F TEKFARM™ projects to meet producer needs.
“We want to hear from potential funding partners, industry, producer groups and farmers themselves,” Matt said. “F2F TEKFARM™ provides a way to work together to unlock greater value from agtech by overcoming the critical barriers to adoption.”
Farmers2Founders was an evokeAG. 2023 Partner. To learn more about the F2F TEKFARM™ initiative visit www.farmers2founders.com.