Coronavirus crisis: Farmers’ opportunity to embrace ag-tech amid outbreak

Zach RelphCountryman
AgriWebb co-founder John Fargher.
Camera IconAgriWebb co-founder John Fargher. Credit: AgriWebb/AgriWebb

The co-founder of trailblazing farm management software says farmers could embrace new technologies to adapt to the ever-changing world amid the coronavirus outbreak to maximise farming output.

AgriWebb chief revenue officer John Fargher told Countryman there was scope for sheep and cattle producers to trial other avenues to sell livestock, if the pandemic forced Australian saleyards to shut.

Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud last week declared saleyards would stay open under strict measures because the facilities remained “an essential part of the broader agriculture supply chain”.

But Mr Fargher — who was raised at South Australian pastoral lease Wirrealpa Station — encouraged farmers to try new livestock selling options, including online sales.

“People need to eat and (saleyards) are an essential service in filling that part of the supply chain,” he said.

“From a saleyard perspective, it is now an opportunity for the farming community and livestock producers to assess the options to sell their livestock.

“In recent years, numbers at the saleyards have been decreasing ... farmers are now going direct to processors or feedlots.

“We are also seeing an increase in online sales, such as AuctionsPlus.

“I’ve always seen cracks and fragments in the physical saleyards with price uncertainty and there should be better ways to connect the community, with online doing that.”

AgriWebb is used by more than 3500 farmers in Australia, including about 750 in WA, to record stock movement or paddock sprays, with or without internet connection.

The platform also generates reports and auditing requirements to help farmers make performance-based on-farm decisions.

Mr Fargher said it was an ideal time for farmers to reassess their livestock selling approach and implement technologies on-farm.

“With every crisis comes opportunity and I think the agricultural industry is absolutely well-poised for this,” he said.

“Ultimately from this crisis, we will see a great shift in technology uptake — it is a great opportunity.”

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