Show Notes

This week on the podcast, we’re discussing technology adoption and genetics with Dr Penny Schulz.

Penny farms in the Limestone Coast region of South Australia (SA) with her husband Jason. She is a livestock technical specialist at the SA Drought Hub, as well as holding several other advisory positions. 

“My role here with The (SA Drought) Hub is very much focused on farmer adoption,” Penny explains. “I do a lot of farmer-facing workshop work or developing new projects. So a lot of it might be about filling seasonal feed gaps or it could be around business. We've got things to do with service providers as well. But also outside of that, I do a bit of mentoring and coaching with young people and rural women's networks as well.”

Mark and Penny discuss the adoption of electronic identification (EID) technology by farmers. She explains that it's not necessarily farmer reluctance slowing down the uptake of new technologies. Rather, the existing technology infrastructure doesn't fully support farmers in leveraging the data that they collect. “We always cop it as farmers. They think that we're just not digitally savvy enough and that farmers need to get digital literacy training. And I say, ‘No, they don't’,” explains Penny. “I think their digital technology needs to catch up with everything else.”

“Farmers are fine using iPhones and laptops to get by with other parts of their life. And then when it comes to technology, whether it's physical tech or software to do with their sheep enterprise, it's clunky and it's not intuitive. And it doesn't talk to things sometimes and it does others. And we've just come to accept that that's what happens - even though it costs us $30,000 to set it up.”

Yet Mark and Penny both remain optimistic. With the recent advances in artificial intelligence, innovation in the ag sector continues to evolve. Penny points out that identifying the problem - and finding the right technology to solve it - is the key to successful technology adoption in agriculture, not the other way around. 

Mark and Penny also discuss the genetics used on her family farm. Penny gained a passion for genetics when showing dairy cattle, so it is no wonder she now uses breeding values for her livestock. “In farming, there's so much you can't control. So you try and look for the information where you can get it,” she explains. “And when it comes to breeding animals, the breeding values that we have in the system, that's the information we do know. And we use it quite heavily.”

This episode is a great discussion about how data-driven strategies and technology (and genetics, of course!) are charting the course toward a more robust and productive future in agriculture. 

Find out more about the SA Drought Hub by following the link below.

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