The return of the Agribusiness Summit to Wangaratta after 15 years has brought news of innovation and resilience in the sector.
The three day-event, co-hosted by the Victorian Agribusiness Council and the Ovens Murray AgBiz Alliance, was headlined by a summit at the Wangaratta Regional Study Centre on Friday.
Patrick Duffy, the former chief executive of start-up E Agri, explained the benefits of indoor vertical farming technology that produces leafy green vegetables and herbs.
"There's various forms of indoor vertical farming, but what we were trying to achieve was a system that could be built anywhere in the world," he said.
"You're doing it in a warehouse, so if you had a facility here in Wangaratta, it would be exactly the same as what you might have in Beijing or Dubai."
Mr Duffy said investment had been an issue during his time with the start-up, and Australia was behind in that space.
"What's interesting is last year there was a $17 billion investment into food and Agritech, the U.S. being the leader, and China the second-most prevalent in investing heavily," he said.
"In Australia we've invested $28 million, even less than our neighbours across the Tasman (who invested $30 million.
"It's difficult for Australian start-ups in this space to get capital and go beyond concepts."
Another challenge for start-ups in protecting innovation was discussed by Cameron Leeson, who spoke against patenting technology for farm robotics.
IN OTHER NEWS:
"Trade secrets are better than patents - if you keep the information close to your chest, others don't find out," he said.
"The business model for us is about how we utilise data and how we help farmers do a better job farming."
Asked about changes in research streams, Rachelle Hergenhan of UNE SMART Farms said there was more collaboration happening between modelling of crops and livestock.
"We're using that sort of information to help with the predictions of growth rate and turn-off times for sheep particularly, so I think the integration between the two is already happening," she said.