While the multi-billion dollar agricultural sector is a cornerstone of the Australian economy, it is also one of the slowest major sectors to embrace new technology.

IoT promises to help the nation's primary producers cope with challenges like drought, as well as underpin their international reputation for quality - if it is adopted, said Frank Zeichner, chief executive of IoT Alliance Australia.

Australia is falling behind in terms of global competitiveness when it comes to technological innovation, sophistication and readiness, Zeichner said, citing the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index.

Compounding the problem, agriculture is Australia's least digital-savvy sector, according to a 2016 McKinsey report.

"If there is any Australian industry that has potential to leverage IoT, it's food and agriculture," Zeichner told KPMG's IoT Innovation Expo Series 'Smart Food & Fibre' in Melbourne.

Attracting more than 200 attendees, the expo included government and industry keynote speakers along with 21 exhibitors from across the AgTech sector.

While water management solutions featured heavily in light of Australia's current drought, technologies on display ranged from the SmartOysters platform for managing aquaculture industries to the Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre's video monitoring for counting herds and assessing health via skeletal detection.

IoT has the potential to extend beyond the farm gate and along the supply chain to reach consumers, not just in Australia but around the world, KPMG's Head of AgriFood Tech Ben van Delden said.

"Fundamentally it's about thinking beyond the farm. It's the opportunity to connect all the way back through the supply chain to the consumer, who is the one that's ultimately going to pay the highest price for anything we produce.

"For them it's about the confidence that comes from having a data-interconnected supply chain, so the consumer knows exactly what they're eating and where it has come from."

The hardest part in terms of digitising the agricultural supply chain lies behind the farm gate.

"That's why this expo is all about trying to help people, particularly farmers, understand what solutions are there which can give them connectivity and equip them with useful resources to help them lower costs and raise production," van Delden said.

"From there, we can take some of that collected information and carry it through the supply chain, helping establish a lot more trust and confidence in the provenance and quality of that produce as it travels from the farm to my plate."