According to The Australian Financial Review, parts of Australia's farming industry are rushing to recruit a new generation of tech-savvy graduates as the sector swaps its bucolic past for a future of drones, robots and automated sensors.
The push comes as cutting-edge machinery is used to plug a labour shortage on the nation's remote farms that threatens to derail its ambitions to become Asia's food bowl.
"For the first time in many years, we're finding it easier to attract graduates because agriculture, particularly technology in agriculture, is back on the radar," said Felicity Hennessy, general manager of innovation at agribusiness Ruralco.
For years, potential recruits to Australian agriculture have been turned off by the harsh image of traditional farming, but a marked acceleration towards automation has piqued the interest of young generations, with jobs available to do everything from developing crop-protecting drones to crunching data on cattle nutrition.
"The proliferation of drones and sensors are the key drivers," said Hennessy, adding that Ruralco's graduate programme had seen a rise in the number and quality of applicants.
While Australia is among the world's leaders in robotics for outdoor use, having given birth to the first robot to round up cattle, the A$4 billion agriculture technology industry is still in its infancy. It is mainly just a few companies that are big enough to recruit.
The nation's largest cattle firm Australian Agricultural Company (AACo) is one of the local firms in the sector that has regularly been hiring tech-savvy youngsters.
"Interest in agriculture is rising, from engineers to science-type graduates," said Gerard Davis, who heads a team of seven in an innovation department at AACo that started under three years ago.
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