Science & Technology

World Space Week: New research on the horizon to showcase ‘out of this world’ novel space technologies for the agriculture sector

Key points

  • World Space Week will take place from 4–10 October 2020. The theme is ‘satellites improve life’ and AgriFutures Australia is using the week to help focus farmers’ attention on space technologies.
  • AgriFutures Australia and the Australian National University (ANU) are partnering on a new study in space technology, with findings due to be published in November 2020. The study will offer practical insights on innovative use cases for Australia’s agricultural, fisheries and forestry industries.
  • In-paddock adoption of space technologies is key to lifting producers’ productivity and sustainability, but first we need to understand what it means for farm enterprises and what technology is available to solve industry pain points.

Farmers normally look to the skies in search of rain, but a new AgriFutures Australia collaboration with the Australian National University (ANU), due out in November this year,  is exploring why farmers should be looking to space to solve industry challenges and help the sector take full advantage of opportunities on the horizon.

Space technologies – notably, satellite imaging, low bandwidth sensors, GPS tracking, paddock level imagery and weather forecasting – are proving to be game changers in the quest for improved food and fibre production. Critically, these technologies also have a role to play in early warning systems to better manage and respond to natural disasters.

World Space Week 2020 takes place on 4-10 October and provides an opportunity to shine a light on this ground-breaking AgriFutures Australia research into space technologies and start engaging producers in conversations around what it means for them. Specifically, the research will deliver key insights into what is happening on a global scale, as well as practical use cases for producers to navigate the use of space-based technologies on-farm.  

AgriFutures Australia Manager, National Rural Issues, Jane Lovell is excited about the prospect of promoting this upcoming work and noted that while the space frontier will help improve productivity and create efficiencies, it is also a new language for many producers.

“This work will help drive the understanding and literacy of space technology among producers and open their eyes to how they can practically use it to generate productivity and efficiency gains for their business,” said Ms Lovell.

The study, out later this year, couldn’t be more timely, given the World Space Week 2020 theme ‘satellites improve life’. Significant advances in space-based technologies, coupled with reduced launch costs, have created exciting opportunities to develop innovative new products. Ms Lovell is urging farmers to rethink what space can offer.

“Typically this type of technology has been the domain of sectors like mining and defence, but the light has been switched on in our understanding of how agricultural industries can also benefit from new space applications and technologies.

“While the AgriFutures Australia and ANU work will largely focus on producers, it has already stimulated discussions among tech developers, looking at how the application of space technology could also help solve agricultural problems,” said Ms Lovell.     

World Space Week will be held 4-10 October 2020 and is an annual, international celebration of all things space, and this year will help bring public awareness to important space programs and educate people about the benefits of space.


AgriFutures Australia’s National Rural Issues Program invests in research as part of its mandate to lead cross-sectoral research into rural issues of national and global significance.