Agbyte Director and agronomist Leighton Wilksch has a long history of being involved in innovative agricultural practices, but he sees IoT connectivity as being a potential game-changer for Australian farmers and regional producers moving into the 21st century.
Based on the Yorke Peninsula, two hours north of Adelaide, Agbyte specialises in soil moisture probes and weather stations. It helps service a growing interest in weather, soil and crop data acquisition in dryland broadacre agriculture and viticulture.
Leighton is already seeing technology create a new generation of smart farmers, and connectivity through the Internet of Things (IoT) will change the way people on the land make decisions.
“For instance, a sensor or meter could be deployed at a farm to track livestock or collect data on things like soil moisture, rainfall, air quality, and wind speed and direction. It can also assist in making decisions relating to crop nutrition, crop protection and product application,” he said.
“Data collection can now be automated and real-time decisions can be made and optimised faster than ever before increasing productivity, improving quality or shortening time to market. It also allows the logging of data for historical analysis.”
But connectivity is the key and the ability for everyday devices such as weather stations to send and receive data and allow access to this information in real-time is what excites him.
Small sensors located in each device and capture and send small volumes of data at very low power levels back to a base via the mobile network using one of our two new IoT technologies – Cat M1 or Narrowband.
Recently Leighton has been installing weather stations in the Upper North of the state as part of a South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Commission funded project to assist regional communities with decision making around high-risk weather events.
We are already supporting IoT, connecting more than two million IoT devices over our mobile network today. It is only early days and we expect the number and variety of IoT devices and applications to explode in the years ahead.
Narrowband IoT coverage is now available over Telstra’s mobile network in major Australian cities and many regional towns. This is in addition to the approximately three million square kilometres of Cat M1 IoT coverage we turned on in 2017.
This is the ‘Internet of Things’ in action. By putting real-time information and decision-making power about the world around us in our hands, IoT has the potential to transform the way we live and work.
Telstra has long offered our customers Australia’s largest and fastest mobile network and now we have added the ability to support IoT devices, like sensors, trackers and alarms, that can sit inside machines and vehicles and reach deep inside buildings.
This is a network that makes the future possible for regional and rural Australia.