Putting agri-tech to the test – Amy Cosby
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Putting agri-tech to the test – Amy Cosby

Category Leadership

Amy Cosby

Australian agriculture is enjoying a digital renaissance thanks to women such as Dr Amy Cosby, a progressive young dynamo using brains over brawn to lead the industry into a golden new age.

An agri-tech specialist with a PhD in Precision Agriculture, Amy is a Research Fellow in Agri-tech Education and Extension at CQUniversity Australia (CQU), tasked with leading some of the industry’s most innovative, and promising projects.

“It’s an exciting time to be in ag. Thanks to advancing agri-tech tools and systems which support the collection and analysis of data, we’re going to see more and more development in this space, which will have a genuine, commercial impact on agriculture.”

And for women in ag, she said the digitisation of the industry represented an opportunity for an even greater contribution to farm life.

“I think the advance of agri-tech will enable women to have a more educated say on farming decisions, well beyond just ‘doing the books’ – and without the often required brute strength for the paddock work,” she smiled.

With a focus on using education to empower and inspire, one of Amy’s proudest projects has been the Women in Agri-Tech program – aimed at creating and fostering a strong network of female teachers to become leaders in digital literacy, STEM and entrepreneurship in regional, rural and remote areas.

“We mentored 15 female teachers, guided by researchers, professionals and entrepreneurs to develop engaging learning resources - in turn this will inspire girls in the classroom to realise the opportunities available to them in the agricultural sector.”

Through building capacity amongst young women and educators – using female teachers as role models, Amy said the project hoped to rectify the lack of women in high level management positions in ag, and broaden the industry’s appeal beyond the regions.

“We really want to promote the fact that there is such a viable future in agriculture, particularly for women, and that you don’t need to be off a farm to be included in the sector – science and technology are opening up a world of options for young people from both the city and country.”

Together with husband Rowdy, Amy also runs a dairy operation in Victoria’s South Gippsland region – and has worked remotely for CQU two states away well before it became a pandemic-induced societal norm.

A Victorian local – Amy grew up in the Mornington Peninsula area – the couple shared a long-held goal to purchase their own property.

“It took us 13 years to save for our farm, but we got there in the end, and it’s wonderful to have our own herd and be doing what we love.”

It’s also the perfect opportunity for Amy to ‘put her money where her mouth is’.

“We try to use the most up-to-date technology and developments on our farm including satellite pasture imagery– and the latest is the use of  real-time animal monitoring collars – which provide rich data allowing us to keep track of herd health and heat activity to pinpoint the most optimal time for joining,” she said.

Future goals include installing auto draft capability and milk monitoring to provide real time information to ease decision making and contribute to a more efficient operation.

“It also helps me identify what barriers producers face when adopting and using technology and as a researcher I can work on putting together programs which build farmer capacity and confidence in agri-tech.”

A participant of the National Farmers’ Federation Diversity in Ag Leadership Program, Amy is a vocal champion for rural women.

“I think many women in ag suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’, however now that we have more and more women sharing their stories and recognised as leaders within the industry it sets a strong precedent for other women to come forward – there are so many fabulous women doing amazing things in the industry, for which they should be rightly proud.”

The RaboClientCouncil led Teacher Farm Experience Program – aimed at educating teachers on agriculture through first-hand farm tours and farm-stay experience has partnered with CQUniversity, and is led by Amy. It is another measure she believes will have benefits for educators, students and the industry.

“By using education and technology at all levels the idea is to bring everyone on this journey and make agriculture accessible for a meaningful impact on the sector.”

“I genuinely believe that through research, development and educational programs we can help bridge the rural urban divide, and build capacity in our workforce through the use of technology.”

And while the extensive travel across the country required for projects has been restricted through 2020 due to COVID-19, she has an even better excuse to stay grounded this year, thanks to the safe arrival of the couple’s first child, Oscar, seven months ago.


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