While Australia is known as the lucky country it’s also known as an arid country. It’s no secret water shortages are compounding the pressure from a growing population and evolving consumer demands. The industry is looking for innovative solutions to help control this challenge. So how can we use technology to help evolve one of the nation’s least-digitised industries into a more advanced one?
Our connection with regional Australia is longstanding and manifests in our long company history. We work with all layers of the agricultural sector from farmer, peak bodies and government to make sure we understand this complex business and get it right.
Farming is a generational industry. And because of this, it’s not necessarily a sector that needs to focus on technology to survive. Farmers need feed, water, climate stability, luck, and a smarter way forward to reduce risk and hit ambitious industry targets.
We’re a country in dire need of more efficient water management. That’s why our team has prioritised and started building out our water management capabilities in our Data Hub and IoT platforms.
Think of Data Hub as a secured central location where data from numerous systems, devices and providers is all “plumbed” together, able to be exchanged in real-time, passing crucial data in a private, secure and highly efficient manner between all the applications that are needed to run the operation.
Importantly, our role is to protect the farmer’s data, it’s their data not ours. For example, at this week’s evokeAG conference, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) announced its Farm Data Code to help build trust between technology providers and farmers concerned about where their data is being used. We were part of the working group that helped develop the code and at our stand, we talked to attendees about why it’s important for us to do so.
This new approach enables unique systems integration, data analytics and ability to make informed decisions, while protecting the farmers’ interests.
For example, water and agronomy systems can use the Data Hub to “work” together” to know when, where and how much water to use, and allow farmers to check the status of the system from anywhere in the world. As the two systems can interact in real-time and gather on-farm data from IoT equipment, there’s almost no need to manually input data into the system.
Now extrapolate this across 10 or more systems that a farm will typically have. You can start seeing the synergies and increased economies of scale and severe reduction of cost of time and money.
We’re working with several Australian state governments and producers to turn our project into a reality. We believe this will be a solution set that will greatly aid the agriculture industry in the next 12-18 months. The project’s effectiveness will be further scaled by Australia’s largest and best mobile and IoT network.
Two years ago, we turned on Australia’s largest narrowband IoT network, a network specifically designed for long reach and the transmission of data from a myriad of IoT devices on farms, mines and rural communities.
We are continuing to improve the network as often as possible. As part of world-first innovation, we will improve the coverage of narrowband IoT network towers from 100km per site to 120km per site. This means our coverage will expand to almost 4 million square kilometres by the end of this month.
We’re also heavily involved in the Federal Government’s Mobile Black Spot Program, investing millions of dollars in extending coverage to areas that need it most.
These networks allow projects that weren’t possible before, and it truly shows the benefits that connectivity and secure data exchange can bring to our agricultural regions. It means farmers and growers can use digital water, stock and crop management solutions to help run their operations more efficiently, increase profits and enhance their lifestyle. It means that Australia remains a leader in the global agriculture market.
By adding technology to the process of agriculture production, we can work to augment the generational knowledge that already exists. This helps enhance current procedures and productivity but just as importantly it can reduce the risk on-farm diversification and attract more people and skills to the industry.
We’re also partnering with the farming sector’s peak bodies to ensure that our efforts ladder up common industry goals. We’ve partnered with the NFF and other state-level peak bodies and agricultural groups to explore the potential for technology to help transform agriculture into an industry worth $100 billion by 2030.
We want to put the power in the hands of farmers to make smarter decisions with what they already have, to ensure maximum efficiency. And while our role isn’t to replace the tractor, or to be agricultural scientists, it is to help provide farmers with the ability to see in real-time what’s going on across their entire operation.
We want to help enable the best industry practices for our agricultural customers so that they can compete in a global market.
Ultimately, we’re working to make automated solutions that remove the need for farmers to manually manage their workload. This will help modernise and optimise the efficiency of agriculture operations, use of natural assets and supply chains. Importantly, it will also help reduce wastage and help drive quality up. We’re here to build a connected future where everyone can thrive, especially Australia’s most important industry.