Some of the nation’s brightest scientific minds will descend on Charles Sturt University’s Wagga campus to explore the future of food and farming at a groundbreaking event.
For Professor David Lamb, Chief Scientist for FoodAgility and one of the keynote speakers, the event presents a rare opportunity to network with researchers, policymakers, economists, journalists, and farmers all at the same time.
The Digital Agrifood Summit 2022 kicks off Wednesday morning with industry experts overseeing two days of panels, presentations, demonstrations and field visits.
David’s keynote panel, entitled The Road to Hands-Free Farming, explores the intertwining roles of technology, regulation, farming and social license in Australia’s agricultural future.
“There’ll be some some really cool stories, but also real pitfalls and obstacles we’ve got to think about in advance.”
“The main point to take with you – look to the future with a good solid dash of reality check,” he laughs.
David’s current role as Chief Scientist involves utilising the latest research in data and digital technology to make the Australian agri-food industry more profitable, sustainable and globally competitive.
“FoodAgility host their own tech summits every year, but this is the first time that we’ve had this huge collective effort with a regional to global focus, talking about things that matter on-farm but have the potential to affect the nation as a whole,” David explained.
Four topics will focus these discussions at the Summit – Hands-free Farming, Robotics & Artificial Intelligence, Carbon & Natural Capital and Circular Economies.
“I’m pretty excited about the whole package to be honest,” David said.
Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Andrew Metcalfe AO, will also speak about various challenges and opportunities the Department will face in the next decade.
Over the next ten years, the Government aims to inject $40 billion into the agriculture sector.
David stated that the role of data and digital technologies in meeting this target is substantial and significant.
“Having the opportunity to look at the new government’s roadmap for how to get to a 100 billion dollar industry is really good. We’re at a critical moment [after the election], so it’s a perfect storm really,” he explained.
David looks forward to returning to Wagga, where he spent 8 years lecturing undergraduate students.
“In the 1990s, CSU was ground zero for precision ag. It was one of very few agricultural universities that was really doing serious research into using state-of-the-art technology,” David explained.
In a full-circle moment that took a century to reach, CSU’s campus – once the site of the first experimental farm in the state, established in 1892 – is now home to Australia’s first fully-automated commercial farm, the Global Digital Farm (GDF).
David, who has 40 R&D projects under his belt, understands the importance of the full-circle concept: his LinkedIn profile shows him reading a quantum mechanics textbook to a Hereford cow.
“Although I’ve got a bit of a nerdy formal education, I couldn’t have picked a better degree, because the whole agricultural industry is dripping with physics and gadgets and data now,” said the physicist.
David believes that at the end of the day, “farming is always going to be about riding horses and driving tractors, but to meet future targets we need to learn about the technology to improve how efficiently we do those things.”
The Summit will be the perfect place to start.
For summit package options and to purchase tickets visit Digital Agrifood Summit. For those unable to make it to Wagga, keynote speakers and panels will be live-streamed (registration essential).