As the world of work changes, the degree of digital literacy required for everyone has undergone a dramatic shift.
While Australia’s agriculture sector is a world-leader when it comes to implementing advanced tech and utilising it as new technology is developed, new skills are required to use it. Central to this is digital literacy.
The Queensland Farmers Federation (QFF), a member of the Rural Jobs Skills Alliance, (RJSA) in partnership with TAFE Queensland last month finished delivering a series of two-day digital literacy workshops.
The workshops were designed to provide Queensland farmers, advisors and workers in the agriculture sector with the knowledge and confidence to implement agtech solutions to increase efficiency and productivity.
“The adoption of digital agriculture has huge potential to increase the competitiveness of the industry,” said workshop facilitator Viv McCollum.
“The workshops were developed by TAFE Queensland in collaboration with industry for farmers.”
“The workshops are a really good introductory course to the fundamentals of digital agriculture – we discussed what agtech is available and how farmers can utilise it to solve issues within their businesses now and into the future.”
“There’s a particular focus on working with participants to understand what technology is available and how to implement it.”
“It’s not about just grabbing any available ‘shiny new’ technology, it’s about finding out what is going to work for your business, and whether you’re going to make a return on the investment by understanding its value proposition before implementing.”
The Cotton and Research Development Corporation (CRDC), in their report Accelerating precision agriculture to decision agriculture: Enabling digital agriculture in Australia, found that by realising the full potential of digital agriculture, Australian agricultural sectors could benefit from an estimated increase in production value of 25 per cent or $20.3 billion, while staying globally competitive.
QFF is looking to grow digital capability in the agricultural sector, with young farmers indicating that skills around new technology were at the top of their list to acquire. Due to demand, additional workshops were added to the program.
Over 80 people attended the workshops which were held in Bundaberg, Dalby, Emerald, Mackay, Townsville, St George and Kilcoy.
The feedback on the workshops was overwhelmingly positive with almost 90 per cent satisfaction with course content and delivery.
“Very forward thinking and thinking outside the box. (I’ve) been waiting for an ag course like this for a long time,” one of the participants said.
What participant learned
Embracing technology can help landowners increase competitiveness and sustainability in their productions – small or large.
The workshops are packed with useful content; they cover five broad topics – industry trends, using data in agriculture, data management, how technology is transforming supply chains, and what technology looks like in the future (internet of things, artificial intelligence, and virtual reality).
Viv says that using data for insights and innovations isn’t a new trend, especially for farmers who have been doing it for years, but she acknowledges, it can be confusing.
“We incorporated sessions for big data in really practical way. By taking the time to dig into the reasons behind how and why technology can assist with farm managment decisions, concepts such as spatial agronomy, e-business and block chain marketing can be examined in a logical process to understand their impact on a farmers bottom-line,” she said.
“A robust decision making process will not only unpack the confusion surrounding the technology but also assist in making investment choices that adds value to the business.”
The need for more
The program has been successful and in some cases over-subscribed.
Viv said it was important for farmers and ag sector workers to develop their digital literacy, adding it will be vital for them to stay competitive in a highly innovative world of the future.
“The two-day workshop format allows time for these skills to be developed with participants more likely to go away with a better understanding of how to use digital technology within their business,” Viv said.
TAFE Queensland offers customised training solutions, working with industry, employers and community to develop training for jobs now and into the future.
This training is proudly funded by the Queensland Government through its Training in Emerging and Innovative Industries Fund.