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Scholar profile. Linda Eldredge

Scholar profile. Linda Eldredge

Getting a good days work in on the farm is now very different from years gone by, thanks to massive changes in technology. But Nuffield Scholar Linda Eldredge believes farmers can still gain even greater benefits from better analysis of their businesses.

Linda, from the Clare Valley in South Australia, used her scholarship to look at how to bring production and management together in real-time technology in the field.

“I basically work as a consultant and a farmer, and what I have actually seen is that the production side is excellent, but our effort in terms of management analysis is pretty poor,” she explained.

Linda, who travelled in 2012, says she focussed on how farmers could best use latest technology such as iPad’s and other low-cost portable devices for better management.

“I wanted to see if there were cloud-based tools or apps out there that we could use to access information that was going to make a difference to our production system profitability,” she says.

Linda wanted to use her scholarship to travel to areas around the world that were ahead of Australia in this area, but was surprised by her research.

“What I found was that Australia is already so savvy in this area, however during my travels I did find other things around the world that I think are game changers which will make a difference to us in our production system. For instance, I found a very good tool that provides a social community platform, kind of like the  Facebook of the agricultural world. I also found another tool that actually is like having a common data set so we don’t have to keep repeating the data all the time,” Linda explains.

Linda says the big game changer she found is a tool she’s been trialling for two years already, which provides excellent weather forecasts.

“It gives rainfall outlook out to nine months and it is uncannily close in the winter months, it’s amazing,” she observed.

Linda believes the next step for agriculture in Australia is to better embrace new technology and use it to its maximum potential.

“Part of my Nuffield research was actually looking at where do we go next, because my frustration is that we’ve got these analytical tools that are fantastic yet we still have people that won’t adopt and input the data – so how do we get the data in so we can get the analysis out?

Unless we get people to adopt it and actually start analysing, it’s not going to change farming, but all of my research shows that if we actually take up analytics, we can expect an increase of up to 20 per cent in production and profitability,” Linda explains.

Linda’s scholarship was supported by Grain Growers Limited.

Nuffield Australia is an organisation which provides opportunities to Australian farmers between the ages of 28 and 40 to travel the globe investigating a research topic important to them and Australian agriculture.

Recipients of the 2014 Nuffield Scholarship program have been announced – to learn more about their travels and research, and to keep up to date with the very latest from our organisation, please connect with us at www.nuffield.com.au, on twitter @nuffieldaust or on Nuffield Australia’s Facebook page.

You can watch Linda presenting her findings at the Nuffield Australia conference in Perth here

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