Broadband Transforms the Future of Farming

Across the continent of Australia, a next generation broadband network is being rolled out. As more and more of rural Australia gains broadband access, farmers are using the smart digital services to increase productivity and tackle sustainability challenges. One farm has integrated broadband connectivity into everything from soil management to animal monitoring.

The Australian government aims to increase the value of its agriculture and food related exports by 45 percent by 2025 and it sees broadband connectivity and technology as one way to increase its level of innovation and productivity in the agri-business sector. A 2012 report from Meat & Livestock Australia estimates productivity benefits from smart farming technologies as 13 to 26 percent for soil fertility improvements, nine to 11 percent for feed allocation, four to nine percent for animal production monitoring and four to 13 percent for animal health monitoring.

The University of New England and the Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation established the Kirby Smart Farm in Armidale, New South Wales to explore and demonstrate the impact of broadband and related digital services on Australia’s rural sector. The farm features one hundred local sensors that create a live map of local soil moisture and environmental conditions and has a local wireless network that connects to the National Broadband Network to track cattle behavior. Farmers use this information to manage the ever-changing conditions on a farm, such as tracking animal well-being or noticing when conditions are optimal for sowing or moving livestock.

In addition to the farming aspect, the high-definition broadband services allow for remote video conferencing to support business growth, on-the-job training, remote health and education services and ‘virtual’ field days.

As areas, both rural and urban, look to add broadband services, fiber optics offer more reliability and speed over traditional copper wire communications and electrical transmissions. Fiber optic technology takes the Internet into a faster and more complete connection.

At GeoTel Communications, our fiber network maps integrate telecom infrastructure data with geospatial technologies so that farmers and local city officials can make informed decisions for planning new fiber optic networks in a spatial, map-like environment. If you are interested in obtaining telecommunications GIS data to analyze telecom networks and make business decisions, contact GeoTel Communications at (800) 277-2172.