Farmers, tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, students and researchers have had an opportunity to collaborate, innovate and influence the future of the agricultural sector in Tamworth.
The occasion arose during the Farmers2Founders (F2F) launch of the AGtivate Regional Innovation Series on Thursday, November 23.
The local AGtivate day was held at the Tamworth Agricultural Institute and included a tour of the Tamworth Agricultural Institute, producer panel, "hackathon" workshop, and Pitch-in-a-Paddock event.
F2F manager of agritech projects and local beef producer, Matt Anderson, said the Tamworth region was a "vibrant hub of producers, entrepreneurs, industry experts and technologists" which made it the ideal place to start the AGtivate series.
"During our hackathon, attendees were presented with a specific problem statement highlighting a pressing issue within the agricultural sector.
"Participants then collaboratively dived into the challenge, blending their unique industry insights and experiences to conceive craft viable solutions."
Mr Anderson said the event was a "prime opportunity" to network, co-create, learn, and even influence the industry's future.
F2F managing director Dr Christine Pitt said the entrepreneurship program had been in business since 2018. It's aim was to support agrifood technology and innovation solutions to deliver commercial benefit and industry impact across the agriculture sector.
"We help producers to collaborate with agtech developers and innovators to fast-track the evolution, commercialisation and uptake of new tech solutions to deliver individual farm and industry outcomes," she said.
Dr Pitt said a lot of agtech development was happening in cities, away from from where it would be used. In these cases there was often little understanding of where it would be used, or a real grasp of the problems faced by producers.
"Our role is to make sure technology is grounded in what the producers, the farmers, the growers are really struggling with. That it's really going to help them," she said.
F2F collaborates directly with farmers and their advisers to help them to adopt technology. Dr Pitt said the organisation also looked at commercially ready technology to see what barriers there might be to adoption.
"Some barriers are outside our control, but many are within our collective control. So we really work hard with tech companies, farmers and advisers to facilitate and accelerate the adoption of new technology," she said.
F2F head of investment and venture growth Duncan Ferguson said tech success required a close working relationship between developer and end user.
"If a customer is not taking up your product it's not the customer's problem, its the product," he said.
Ideally, Mr Ferguson said there needed to be an adoption of broader practice change.
"Improving productivity and sustainability is really thinking about how you deliver the product."
That action must fit with the customers being targeted, he said, rather than expecting the customer to make the changes to enable the product to suit them.
Dr Pitt said there was a belief Australian farmers were slow to take up technology.
"We don't necessarily agree with that - we think one of the problems is that the technology is not always fit for purpose. That's why we want to bring solution providers and farmers together - to find real solutions for real problems," she said.
"There are ways to resolve that problem - and that's some of the things we want to highlight today."