2018: The year of agricultural innovation

AS 2017 draws to a close, Queensland agriculture has a positive story to tell according to Commonwealth Bank regional and agribusiness banking general manager for Queensland, Kerry McGowan.

Discussing the latest CommBank Agri Insights, Mr McGowan said strong prices in the beef industry had buoyed producers' positivity.

In the year ahead, 24 per cent of beef producers nationally planned to expand their enterprises (with 14 per cent to decrease).

"The cattle outlook is very strong and producers are seeking to capitalise on this, though there is still some focus on balance sheet repair where graziers are recovering from drought, so we could see even stronger investment plans if we get another solid season,” he said.

The most interesting finding for Mr McGowan was a stronger percentage of farmers investing in innovation.

Agri Insights found one third of Queensland producers were looking to increase investment in technology and innovation in the coming year, compared with only 24 per cent this time last year.

Just four per cent of Queensland farmers planned to decrease their investment in tech and innovation. The main driver for this increased investment is a desire for the latest tech (39 per cent) closely followed by potential improvements in productivity and efficiency (34 per cent).

"Queensland producers are looking to the future of their businesses and the industry,” he said.

"We've spoken to livestock breeders who tell us that they're looking at tech and innovation to improve breeding production rates, and producers who are installing hydraulic crushes, solar panels and remote monitoring. There's a lot happening in the agri innovation space.

"Right now we're talking to a lot of producers who are investing in energy efficient machinery and equipment as they work to contain costs and drive efficiency.

"In fact, CommBank has seen more farmers in Queensland than anywhere else take up energy efficient financing, which is unsurprising as producers in the state have always been early adopters.”

While beef and livestock more generally looks promising, challenging seasonal conditions at the time of the survey impacted grains intentions, with 20 per cent of Australian growers saying they planned to reduce their operations, while 13 per cent looked to expand.

"This year's winter crop was patchy and overall well down on last year, although rain has brought with it a revised outlook for summer crop,” Mr McGowan said.

"Broadly, though, with livestock demanding high prices and offering more production flexibility, we are seeing some easing in grain intentions.”

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