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Is geophysical technology for farmers or just fun for technologists?

John Watson

Chairman, Pivot Limited.
PO Box 400
Strathfieldsaye Vic 3551

Australian farmer’s terms of trade have been steadily declining for more than fifty years, and the number of farming business has declined at about the same rate. Amid speculation that soon there will be no farmers left in Australia to feed and clothe the population, agriculture is booming.

Farmers at the top end of productivity are enjoying excellent cash returns, growing their businesses at a rapid rate and seeing their wealth expand. Surely in an environment such as this, claims that farming is finished at an enterprise level, are exaggerated.

There are however many farming businesses that are not making sustainable economic returns and it is these ones that seem to grab most public, therefore political attention.

The significant difference between the two types of operation can almost always be identified by the management systems and management culture in place.

Members of Group One seize on every opportunity to improve the performance of their business. They know they operate in a very rapidly changing and competitive environment. They know that they cannot really change the operating environment for their business, so get on with what they can change.

Members of Group Two typically argue issues of “lifestyle” and bemoan the changes taking place in the world. They don’t believe they should have to compete and therefore spend their time on the argument rather than getting on with their lives. Unfortunately many industry leaders and politicians rush around looking for the attractive answer for Group Two. The answer they are looking for does not exist.

Australian Agriculture has a brilliant prospective future if collectively we understand the dynamics of world political, social and technological change and get on with progress.

Precision Farming, or whatever you choose to call the development and implementation of technologies to enhance the productive capacity of inputs used in farming, can provide part of the answer. The technologies need to be relevant, commercially attractive and well placed in the marketplace. They also need to provide environmental benefits to ensure the right to farm is not compromised.

Farmers need the collective wisdom and enterprise of those who seek to provide new answers to production challenges. Pivot Limited is owned by some 43,000 Australian farmers and is just one organisation attempting to provide high technology tools to assist farmers reach their productivity goals. For our business to thrive we need profitable and ecologically sustainable customers.

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