Regional Digital Connectivity Program

Scott Mckinnon
Manager Regional Digital Connectivity Pilots
Climate Branch, DPI Agriculture

The Regional Digital Connectivity Program is funded by the Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund and aims to address the digital divide experienced between regional and metro NSW. The focus areas include:

  • mobile coverage improvement
  • creating equity in internet speeds between regional and metro NSW
  • Farms of the Future to enhance on-farm water efficiency, drought resilience and productivity

There are significant barriers that prevent the natural adoption of new technologies such as:

  • poor connectivity
  • low levels of awareness
  • lack of a demonstrated value proposition
  • limited availability of expert advice
  • cost of implementing and testing technology
  • concerns in trusting new technology

A grape vine monitoring device is affixed to a row of vines.In 2019, KPMG was engaged to identify the role of the NSW Government in driving adoption of digital agriculture and develop a range of potential connectivity infrastructure support options for Farms of the Future. The options involve different levels of cost, intervention, complexity to deliver, and expected impact.

DPI Farms of the Future pilot program

DPI has designed the Farms of the Future Pilot program to practically test options presented by KPMG through Farms of the Future farms. These farms provide a location to test the recommended options in partnership with farms and communities while providing a place for farmers to see Agtech working on site in commercial farming environments.

Over the course of 2019/20, DPI has set up commercial demonstration farms to showcase available technology to groups of farmers and provide insight into the return on investment for various connectivity and sensor types.

This involves:

  • Three Farms of the Future farms located at Narromine, Coonamble and Panuara set up and deploying a wide range of commercially available connectivity solutions and field sensor technology across multiple agriculture productivity sectors.
  • A development and extension program in these regions targeting farmers and their advisors, by providing electronic extension content.
  • Virtual farm walks will showcase the various sensors technology, present insights from the farmer and subject matter experts, and give participants access to the commercial providers involved.

The Farms of the Future project provides an opportunity for farmers to experience a range of digital connectivity options and understand the types of sensors they can implement on-farm from commercial providers.

Digital resources

A range of digital resources, including a 3-part webinar series and virtual farm walks, have been produced to showcase the on-farm technology in use, to provide producers with unique insight and an opportunity to learn about the farmers' first-hand experiences and the benefits to their farming enterprises.

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