Forestry sector poised to outperform with ‘digital agriculture’ – report

Forest and wood products have greater potential to add value to the Australian economy than other agricultural sectors by using ‘digital agriculture’ – the collection and analysis of data to improve decision making – leading to better business outcomes. 

Digital agriculture in forestry has the potential to benefit the Australian economy and increase its gross value of production (GVP) by $5.5 billion – or 37 per cent – if fully implemented, according to a new Australian Farm Institute research report.

The potential rise in dollar value for forestry is much higher than 16 other agricultural areas listed including meat, dairy, wine, sugar, cotton, grains, rice, fisheries and aquaculture. 

The potential gains for forestry include productivity improvements of 30 per cent associated with using information and communication technologies to achieve automation and labour saving.

Benefits to the forestry sector from digital agriculture could also include easier processing of logs for timber and better disease and pest control. 

The researchers used baseline data valuing the forest sector’s GVP at almost $14.9 billion in 2014-15.

If all agricultural industries fully implemented digital agriculture, the report estimates that the combined total benefit to Australia’s GDP would reach $24.6 billion. Digital agriculture in Australia, however, is in an immature state.

Recommendations from the report detail the key components of policy, strategy, leadership, digital literacy and other enablers that must be addressed to achieve data-driven practice change in Australia.

The research was funded by the Federal Government, in conjunction with a number of industry groups including FWPA.

To download the report Accelerating Precision Agriculture to Decision Agriculture visit Farm Institute