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From reengineered soil to mustering drones: What’s on the innovation wish list for Western Australia’s complex agrifood challenges

With so much capacity, creativity, and conviction in Australia’s agritech ecosystem, our primary industries are turning to forums like AgriFutures evokeAG. to connect problems with problem solvers. Here, Western Australia’s (WA) Primary Industries Development Chief Scientist, Dr Ben Biddulph, asks WA’s broadacre, pastoral, and horticulture sectors to outline the big challenges impacting their industry – and their wish list for the next generation of agritech innovations.

Great power, great responsibility; channelling artificial intelligence for agriculture

The artificial intelligence (AI) revolution has taken the world by storm, and the Australian agrifood sector is no exception. As we witness the emergence of innovative products like ChatGPT, Claude, Midjourney, and Stable Diffusion, it's clear that the past 50 years of computer science investment have culminated in a plethora of AI-driven solutions. Andrew Skinner, Director of digital and data systems consultancy firm, More Than Machines, reflects on all things AI and why Australian agriculture is punching above its weight.

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14 May 2024

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Hard won, and can be lost in an instant; Is trust the Aussie agrifood sector’s most precious commodity?

Water. Soil. Nutrients. Climate. All critical components of a successful farming enterprise. But is there any component more fundamental than trust; that fragile commodity which we take for granted when we’ve got it – but find impossible to ignore when it’s lost.
But what exactly is trust, and how can agrifood producers not only build trust – but protect it?

Five steps the global agrifood industry must take to harness the opportunities of artificial intelligence

From accelerating the process of plant breeding and predicting shelf life of fresh produce to leveraging satellite imagery and data to develop a drought insurance policy - artificial intelligence (AI) is already at work in our agrifood supply chains.
But as use of this technology gains pace how do we ensure shared benefits and ethical use? The innovators and entrepreneurs at the forefront using this technology share their views.

‘Courage is an interesting thing’: What makes agrifood tech founders stand out in a tough funding market?

In a challenging market for venture capital, agrifood tech investors are not only looking for innovations that could change the world, they’re looking for the founders who can make change happen. That means resilience, creativity, and something that looks a bit like courage.
AgFunder Founding Partner Michael Dean and Olympia Yarger, Founder and CEO of maggot-powered food waste management startup, Goterra explore the funding challenges in this market. For both, the key to success comes from a passion to solve the problem – and a sheer inability to give up.

Implementing innovation with impact

If global food waste were a country, it would be third largest emitter of greenhouse gases behind the United States of America and China. The scale of the problem is well quantified, and solutions exist, but for food systems entrepreneur and founder Abi Ramanan, barriers to implementation remain, and caution is needed as we embrace technologies like artificial intelligence.

Leading agtech founders set to the spill the tea

She is a renegade founder transforming food waste management one maggot at time. He is a Harvard and Oxford Scholar, and ex-international rower. But are their views on what it will take to accelerate the Australian agrifood tech and innovation landscape as different as their CVs?

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Contributors

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Neil Varcoe

Neil Varcoe

Writer, journalist and accidental farmer

Sydney, New South Wales

Oli Madgett

Oli Madgett

Managing Director, Perennial Australia

McLaren Vale, South Australia

Judy Kennedy

Judy Kennedy

Journalist | Judy Kennedy Media

Menzies Creek, VIC

Andy Lowe

Andy Lowe

The University of Adelaide

Adelaide, South Australia

Image of Anna Maskus

Anna Maskus

Communications Coordinator

AgriFutures Australia

Headshot of Emily Malone

Emily Malone

Regional and rural journalist and communications professional

Wagga Wagga, New South Wales

Image of Jenny Gilber

Jenny Gilbert

Rural communications specialist

Brisbane, Queensland