Tech-guru’s homecoming for TECHSPO

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RaboResearch Food & Agribusiness agricultural analyst Wesley Lefroy.
Camera IconRaboResearch Food & Agribusiness agricultural analyst Wesley Lefroy. Credit: Rabobank

It will be a homecoming of sorts for former WA resident Wes Lefroy when he addresses hundreds of farmers at Southern Dirt’s premier ag-tech event, TECHSPO, at Wagin and Katanning on August 7-8.

The Moora farmers’ son, who works as a RaboResearch Food and Agribusiness agricultural analyst, has been cherry-picked as one of dozens of speakers at the two-day TECHSPO conference.

Mr Lefroy said Australian ag–tech investment was booming, with a new generation of start-ups trying to solve agriculture’s most pressing problems.

He said farmers, including those in WA, were almost solely focused on translating data collection and agriculture technology into profit.

“WA is so exposed to global markets and is especially important from an opportunity perspective, but you also need to mitigate that risk,” Mr Lefroy said.

“WA grain growers have been at the forefront of the uptake of technology, but there are some improvements to be made in terms of turning uptake into money.”

Mr Lefroy, who moved from Perth to Sydney to work for Rabobank in April 2017, said his TECHSPO presentation would focus on how farmers could “extract more value from technology”.

“I’ll be talking about some of the key drivers we can see globally, and ultimately, what that means for farmers starting to form their own digital strategy,” he said.

“There are three things I want to explore — the first is the speed of change, and what is driving the speed of change on the farm.

“The second is that things will be transformative, with global trends shaping ag–tech, because ultimately a lot of the technology employed by farmers in Australia will have been developed globally.

“Thirdly, I will be bringing it all together and discussing what that actually means for a farmer that is developing their digital structure.”

With a focus on ag-tech and innovation, the two-day event will focus on livestock technology for sheep and cattle, broadacre cropping, big data and apps, machinery and Greentech.

Co-ordinated by Southern Dirt grower group, and now in its second year after the inaugural event in 2017, TECHSPO is promoted as WA’s premier technology and innovation event for agriculture and associated industries.

It aims to bring technology developers, farmers, advisers, expert researchers and officials together for two days of advanced agriculture technology, information sharing and collaboration.

Shire of Wagin president Phil Blight, who farms at Wagin, said events like Southern Dirt TECHSPO were becoming increasingly important for farmers in WA.

“It’s important for our Shire, and for WA that we continue to promote agricultural innovation, efficiency and leadership,” he said.

“TECHSPO is a great way to support agriculture in the region and bring national attention to WA’s drive to shape the future of farming.”

While a full program is still being developed, topics pegged to be unpacked include virtual saleyards, augmented reality in farming, robotics in agriculture and provenance and traceability trends.

The first day of the event will focus on ag-tech themed presentations at Wagin Showgrounds before delegates hit the road.

On Day two is a visit to Katanning Research Facility to see and feel ag-tech solutions first-hand.

Southern Dirt TECHSPO will be held on August 7 and 8.

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