Evaluation of commercially available farm management software programs for the vegetable industry (VG13106)
This is a final research report from Hort Innovation’s historical archives. Please note that as these reports may date back as far as the 1990s, the content and recommendations within them may be superseded by more recent research.
What was it all about?
Australian vegetable growers were adopting new farm management practices and technologies and adjusting the scale, mix and scope of their operations in response to seasonal and market conditions. To be viable for the future, increasing numbers of vegetable growing businesses needed to be multifaceted, growing more than one crop to spread risk in an ever changing environment. Profitability was vital for sustainability, demanding a higher need for real time information. The impact of recent advances in computer technology on farm management was expanding with the adoption of new technology practices a continuous process which occured through a number of pathways such as software programs, mobile apps, telematics, agricultural drones, crop sensors, cloud based platforms and even social media. As new technology options emerged, vegetable growers needed to be progressively agile to leverage its potential.
As a result of this project, a list of farm management software programs was compiled which vegetable growers could use to identify the most appropriate tool, from crop management through to social media, to purchase for their business that would meet their farm management needs.
Whilst there were a range of benefits in employing farm management software programs, such as integrated data collection in real time, increased farm performance, a systematic approach to management and improved forecasting ability, a number of barriers were evident.
Limited access to high speed broadband and/or equivalent technologies in regional and remote areas was a significant business constraint. The Australian government needed to maintain a priority focus to invest and deliver services in key growing areas to enable the sector to be competitive.
Further industry training and case studies for mainstream vegetable growers and agribusinesses was required so that they understood the capabilities of new technology and the best methods of adoption. In particular, vegetable growers needed to be more aware of how to use social media, including the benefits of using and harnessing it as an innovative method for connecting with consumers and marketing of produce. Due to the lack of scale in regional and remote areas, the Australian government needed to provide new funding for vegetable growers to access customized and contextualized training to improve technology adoption and facilitate practice change.
Peak industry bodies were a key mechanism to promote awareness and adoption of emerging horticultural technologies that were shaping new production methods and business approaches. As well as industry conferences (such as the annual AusVeg conference) the vegetable industry would have been benefited by increasing awareness and/or attendance of peak industry representatives and/or growers at emerging technology events such as Mobile Tech.
Government and industry invested in a number of studies (including this one) to provide vegetable growers with a comprehensive list of programs available for use. Given the speed of technology innovation and new products entering the market, this list needed an industry custodian to review and update information so that it remained current and relevant – maintaining its value to industry.
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This project was funded by Hort Innovation (then Horticulture Australia Limited) and funds from the Australian Government.
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