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Agriculture has its fair share of challenges, from climate change, fluctuating commodity prices, and rising interest rates. On the flip side, with the industry’s overall value expected to reach $50 billion by 2022, there’s also going to be plenty of opportunity for growth. With an increasing need for more heavy machinery, equipment and staff, as well as keeping an eye on productivity, customers and the weather, there’s a lot to manage day to day for the average agricultural business.

While GPS fleet tracking and telematics have become a staple for the transport and logistics industry, these solutions also provide benefits for agriculture. By tracking and collating the data your assets generate, you can run operations more efficiently, improve the safety of your staff and potentially increase your fuel tax credits (FTC) return.

With so much to do and so little time, here’s how technology is helping achieve long term success and stability.

Better Management of Your Assets

Farming vehicles and equipment are probably the most important parts of your business, but they can be costly to maintain. Monitoring them is essential to minimise the risk of unforeseen downtime during a crucial part of the season, however, maintaining visibility across your assets can be difficult as they are often far away from your base.

Vehicle and asset tracking allows you to monitor your assets remotely and make more effective business decisions. Important data such as engine diagnostics, fuel levels, service schedules are recorded, and alerts scheduled to notify you when it’s time for a service. It also allows you to remotely check where your machinery is working. In the event of an emergency the system sends its location directly to your mechanic, thus reducing further downtime.

This real time data also confirms if your drivers are on schedule for deliveries. The data can be converted into easy-to-read reports at the end of the month, giving you an overview of your assets. These reports help you understand if your assets are being utilised to their optimum.

Improve Safety and Ensure Compliance

Chain of Responsibility now including producers and suppliers of goods , following safety procedures is more important than ever. This is especially important considering how dangerous the industry can be, with 75 per cent of reported workplace deaths due to vehicles such as tractors and quad bikes.

Telematics help reduce your employee’s exposure to risks by giving you the visibility to identify and correct behaviour. A digital pre-trip checklist not only helps keep assets in check but also allows drivers and operators to flag potential problems before they arise. The data is sent back to the office immediately via the vehicles in-cab device and appropriate action can be taken. Electronic work diaries help drivers on long haul deliveries to manage their rest breaks and fatigue. Alerts for speeding, harsh braking and acceleration can also be set up so that drivers are alerted and can correct themselves. This gives management a way to identify driving behaviour that needs to be addressed. Setting up geofences allows you to track and manage the vehicles coming and going on sites. This helps keep smaller vehicles out of restricted areas where heavy equipment is operating.

Get a Better Tax Refund

The agricultural industry is projected to use around 3.6 million litres of fuel this year, and this number is set to increase in the coming years. With so much equipment and land to cover, the industry spends a lot of money on fuel, and in turn spends a lot of time calculating FTC.

It’s essential that you claim as much as you can on the fuel you use but relying on estimates or complicated spreadsheets makes this difficult, and many businesses aren’t even aware they can claim off-road use.

Using a telematics solution to track and manage how much fuel is used and where means you claim the correct amount efficiently, ensuring you get your full entitlement. Detailed mapping data can differentiate between on- and off-road use and generate reports to submit to the Australian Taxation Office. By automating FTC, you can get the correct refund every time backed by the hard evidence of data from your vehicles and equipment.

Agriculture generates a lot of data but many in the industry are yet to tap into it. Using telematics can take advantage of something that your vehicles and equipment have been generating since you bought them. This allows you to know exactly what’s going on, enabling your team to work as efficiently as possible and reap the benefits of a job well done.

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James French is a Australasian Solutions Specialist, CE at Teletrac Navman.

James French is Australasian Solution Specialist for the construction industry at Teletrac Navman. James has worked for more than 20 years in the construction industry and shares his expert knowledge and passion for GPS asset tracking with construction businesses to fulfill their needs.