- Charles Sturt University researchers have published a study on the benefits and challenges in establishing a data exchange to inform the Australian Agricultural Data Exchange (AADX) initiative
- The AADX initiative was launched with the vision to support the agricultural sector to resolve potential data sharing gaps across the agricultural supply chain
- The research team found that while there is a general incentive for data sharing within the sector, it is important to overcome concerns pertaining to trust around data management and storage
Charles Sturt University researchers have revealed the benefits and implications of a concerted data sharing approach for the agricultural technology industry.
Senior lecturer in computing in the Charles Sturt School of Computing, Mathematics and Engineering Dr Michael Bewong (pictured, inset) led the project, and said the Australian Agricultural Data Exchange (AADX) initiative was launched in August 2020 in an effort to strengthen the sector overall.
“The purpose of the AADX initiative is to support and enhance already existing data sharing practices across our diverse agricultural landscape – technological, sectorial and scale,” Dr Bewong said.
“It has several downstream benefits in areas like biosecurity, traceability, governance and access to new markets, both nationally and globally.
“My team conducted research looking specifically at the potential implications and benefits of the AADX initiative in relation to the agricultural technology sector.”
The research, ‘Potential implications and benefits for the agricultural technology sector from the introduction of the Australian Agricultural Data Exchange,’ took place from September 2022 to June 2023.
Dr Bewong said one of the challenges of such a system is ensuring it is secure, trustworthy and efficient.
“Environmental, ethical, regulatory and consumer-driven demands for ethically sourced and sustainably grown produce are driving the digitalisation of agriculture globally,” he said.
“The future of Australian digital agriculture depends on the generation of a safe data sharing culture, underpinned by the right protections and good governance.”
In exploring how to achieve this, Dr Bewong and his team of researchers interviewed individuals from 15 Australian AgTech companies and seven national and global public data exchanges. They also surveyed a further 32 individuals from Australian AgTech companies.
“We found that stakeholders were concerned with transparency, governance and handling of data, but there was also a definite interest in how industry-wide data could be leveraged to enhance efficiency and support smart agricultural practices,” he said.
“Such a system would also rely on a broad range of agricultural industries and complex supply chains participating, ensuring the data is inclusive, accessible and representative of the whole sector, not just those with a monopoly on certain markets.”
Dr Bewong added that the technology itself also posed risks around data quality, system reliability, system security, inter-operability and user experience.
“This can be managed through the adoption of state-of-the-art data standards and the strict enforcement of comprehensive data policies in line with relevant regulations,” he said.
The project was funded through Food Agility CRC Limited, with financial and in-kind contributions from Meat and Livestock Australia Limited (on behalf of the AADX consortium) and Charles Sturt University.
The research team included Project Lead Dr Michael Bewong, Co-Lead Dr Ryan Ho Leung Ip, Associate Professor Clifford Lewis, Professor Branka Krivokapic-Skoko, Professor Md Zahidul Islam, Professor Yeslam Al-Saggaf, Mr Jonathan Medway, Research Fellow Dr Basharat Ali, and Research Officer Dr Ella Dixon.