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Social Innovation

Smart Farming

In a society where food is abundant and plentiful, it’s hard to imagine that a time might come when we will need more. But the world’s population is growing at a rapid rate. The United Nations predicts that by 2050, there will be 9.6 billion people, and with that comes an increasing global demand for food.

Agriculture is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the Australian economy. In fact, the industry is expected to be worth over $60 billion by 2017, according to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences. However, difficult climatic conditions and increasing global competition make life on the land tough for the majority of farmers. Every decision they make can have enormous consequences on their annual production and their ability to continue operating for another day.

Owen Keates, Associate Vice President, Supply Chain and Digital Transformation, Hitachi Consulting Australia, explains how Hitachi Process Intelligence was designed to enable digital transformation, how Hitachi facilitates this process, and the advantages of the solution. Learn more about Hitachi Process Intelligence.

It’s an industry ripe for digital disruption. Owen Keates, Director of Supply Chain and Digital Transformation at Hitachi Consulting, can already see how technology, the Internet of Things and big data are transforming the industry. “Digital technology and data analytics is absolutely key in the future of agriculture in Australia. For Australian agriculture to be competitive globally, we need to lower our production costs. This will be achieved by increased automation and innovative processes like precision farming.”

Derrick Thompson touched on Smart Agriculture
Derrick Thompson, Senior Manager - Key Accounts and Business Development, Hitachi Australia at the Hitachi Social Innovation Forum Brisbane

As a leading technology company, Hitachi is ideally positioned to develop smart agriculture solutions. Driverless tractors, crop imaging satellite technologies and smartphone-operated greenhouses are just some of Hitachi’s innovative solutions improving farming processes around the world. While many of these technologies save on labour, it’s their ability to autonomously gather and use data that is of most benefit.

While many in the agriculture industry are embracing smart farming technologies, the level of data and its various applications can often be confusing and overwhelming for most farmers. As a result, Hitachi, in collaboration with farmers and research institutes, have developed a software solution called the Digital Agriculture Transformation Accelerator (DATa) that aids in the decision-making process.

Owen Keates touched on Digital Transformation in Agriculture
Owen Keates, Associate Vice President, Supply Chain and Digital Transformation, Hitachi Consulting Australia at the Hitachi Social Innovation Forum Brisbane

“After speaking to farmers about how we could help them, it became clear that while they are interested in technology, there’s always an important business decision to be made. Do we put up a new fence or spend the money on a new harvester? These decisions are often crucial for a farmer,” he continued. “The Digital Agriculture Transformation Accelerator can help farmers build a business case and provide a process whereby farmers can identify the digital agriculture technologies that are appropriate for their circumstances.”

The software solution makes use of digital mobile, IOT, big data, sensor inputs and technology convergence to assess every stage of the farming process and provide insights and opportunities unique to that particular farm. DATa also enables farmers to measure their performance against industry best practice.

“The solution is unique in that it uses advanced business process management software with embedded global best practices at its core framework,” said Keates.

“It enables an agriculture business to be assessed against appropriate performance measures. From this assessment, the value proposition of various digital technologies can be determined and a digital agriculture transformation roadmap can be developed.”

Having established the business case for digital transformation, Hitachi is also able to assist farmers in the implementation of appropriate technologies, from sensors and open source platforms which integrate data and provide data analytics, through to satellite and drone technologies, including precision agriculture and advanced imaging. This process can generate significant costs savings for farmers and those in the agriculture industry who need it the most. Through unique co-creation platforms, Hitachi are bringing together thinkers and doers to work smarter, faster and more creatively towards a better future in agriculture.

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