Farmer-based organisations have a key role in driving uptake of precision farming techniques around the world.
That’s according to Neale Postlethwaite, an Australian arable farmer and previous chairman of the Society of Precision Agriculture Australia (SPAA). The society is a non-profit making membership organisation established 14 years ago by a group of farmers, researchers and advisers.
Postlethwaite recalls one driving force was the lack of compatibility between different manufacturers’ equipment and the aim was to be a forum to get them to talk to each other about incompatibility. In addition, there was a lack of basic on-farm skills for using the technology.
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SPAA: the voice of the farmer
Today, as the umbrella organisation for the adoption of precision farming, the society is seen by researchers and policymakers as the voice of the farmer. It has a close relationship with universities and companies developing precision farming technology in Australia.
The SPAA has its own dedicated magazine for members and Mr Postlethwaite says extension and outreach is a key feature. Examples include in-field demonstrations, workshops, training events and conferences.
Mr Postlethwaite believes a similar approach can be replicated in other countries, as has happened in neighbouring New Zealand. Mr Postlethwaite was speaking at the recent European Conference on Precision Agriculture, held in Edinburgh in July.