In the news

Following agriculture’s bumper year in 2016, the Institute has been sought for comment on whether 2017 will be as successful. This was reported in Andrew Marshall’s FarmOnline article ‘Ag’s big money year unlikely to repeat in 2017’ (6/02/2017), and Isobel Roe’s ABC News report ‘Bumper year in agriculture won’t be repeated, Queensland missed the boom: report’ (24/01/2017).

Sue Neales’ article in The Australian (21/02/2017), ‘Gains ingrained as farmers ride on the sheep’s back again’, discussed the strengthening sheep market:

Australian Farm Institute director Mick Keogh welcomes the rebirth of buoyant sheep returns, hoping that will encourage greater diversification on cropping farms once again.

He is critical of the advice of many agricultural consultants in the early 2000s to farmers to get rid of all their livestock, based purely on figures showing profits per hectare were greater with wheat and that 10,000 ha could be cropped by one farmer with big machinery.
The Institute’s role in the Precision to Decision project is also garnering media interest. Mike Foley’s ‘Digital check-up takes pulse of ag tech take-up’ article in The Land (7/03/2017) and Toni Somes’ article on ‘How digital ag and big data can help growers’ in the GRDC Groundcover magazine (25/01/2017) discuss the project goals.
As part of the project the Australian Farm Institute (AFI) has been tasked with the role of investigating how agricultural businesses in the United States are collecting, transferring and analysing data to provide farmers with decision-support tools that will lift productivity and improve management.

Big data has the potential to impact all agriculture so the “Precision to Decision” project is a very positive collaborative effort to work through the implications for data ownership, transfer and analysis in Australia,’ Mr Heath said.

AFI staff update

Lucy Darragh has recently joined the Institute staff as a Research Officer. She previously worked as a Research Officer (Life Cycle Assessment) with the NSW Department of Industry; worked on the GRDC's ‘National Grains Project’; and was a foot soldier for climate mitigation inventory data collection and grower communications nationwide.

Lucy has extensive experience in broadacre field trial research and management due to her previous role as a Research Agronomist with Kalyx Australia. She has a Bachelor of Agriculture, from Charles Sturt University, and is currently completing a Master of Environmental Science and Management through the University of New England.

Harvesting the Benefits of Digital Agriculture Conference

The conference will be held at the Crown Promenade Melbourne, with two full conference days on Thursday 15 and Friday 16 June, and a dinner including a keynote speaker on the evening of Thursday 15 June.


Recently the Institute’s Executive Director, Mick Keogh, has spoken at:

  • Australia China Business Council Agribusiness Forum, Melbourne
  • Australian Agribusiness Leadership Program, Melbourne
  • Maia Technology Australian Ag-Tech 2017, Armidale, NSW
  • GrainGrowers’ National Policy Council, Sydney.

Richard Heath, the Institute’s General Manager Research, has spoken at:

  • ABARES Outlook 2017 Conference, Canberra
  • GRDC Farm Business Updates – Gulargambone, NSW; Dubbo, NSW; Temora, NSW; Clare, South Australia
  • GrainGrowers’ National Policy Council, Sydney.

Image:  NASA