Top operators use many tools

Top operators use many tools

Opinion
MODERN TECHNOLOGY: Top agribusiness operators are very aware of the fine line between technology that aids in running their business, and the shiny new toys that look good, but don't add as much value.

MODERN TECHNOLOGY: Top agribusiness operators are very aware of the fine line between technology that aids in running their business, and the shiny new toys that look good, but don't add as much value.

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The uptake of best practice information and technology has been very rapid in agriculture.

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The uptake of best practice information and technology has been very rapid in agriculture.

In my view, the top producers are the ones that use all the tools in their arsenal to drive results in their business.

That last 5 per cent of attention to detail is what differentiates the top percentile of agribusinesses from the rest, and is an identifiable trait of the truly innovative agribusiness.

There are lots of areas where technology has changed. One of these is horticulture.

This is a sector I have very limited knowledge of, but from what I can understand, the horticultural producers in SA use cutting-edge irrigation technology.

In this way they maximise that very precious resource: water. Generally, the profitability of the enterprise is highly dependent on the efficient use of water, coupled with its prevailing price.

Similarly, weather forecasting has changed markedly in the past 10 to 15 years.

The accuracy of forecasts is much better than it used to be. I know many farmers that use the three-monthly Bureau of Meteorology updates as part of a risk management strategy.

Likewise, GPS technology has definitely transformed agriculture. This technology has changed most areas of agricultural endeavour.

My background is in cropping, so this is the area that I immediately think of. Precision farming, variable rate, controlled traffic - among other things - would not be possible without GPS.

Furthermore, I know in other sectors of agriculture that technology is a vital tool for monitoring and managing all manner of operations, whether that be for vignerons, or any other enterprise.

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Recently, the GRDC updates took place in various places in SA. There were sessions held on all manner of topics, so there was something there for everyone.

No doubt the agribusiness owners who attended these sessions will be using that information to drive their respective businesses forward into the future.

Indeed, kudos must also go to the plant breeders in different sectors of agriculture. The new varieties in lots of areas of agriculture have certainly increased the profitability and resilience of the present cohort of agribusiness owners.

Comparatively, new technology and information is also available to livestock breeders. Genetic testing and selection is much more of a science than it used to be. Of course, there is still a place for the breeder who has an "eye" for quality, but there are now tools to aid in this quest.

Namely, information assists the commercial breeder when they are buying sires. They are able to use a combination of performance data and visual pointers to find the right animal for them.

Technology is also used in the dissemination and sharing of information. This is not only production-type information, but also other types, such as financial data.

Innovative agribusiness producers will always avail themselves of new technology. They are also very aware of the fine line between technology that aids in running their business, and the shiny new toys that look good, but don't add as much value.

As a final point, the successful agribusiness of the future will have a laser-type focus on the combination of new technology to enhance their business, and also the inevitable hard work that is always a major driver of success.

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