AgTech News Dashboard: 31 August 2020

In this edition of the news dashboard powered by AgTech Finder we feature new technology that is improving the survival of calves in northern Australia, the NSW Government kicks off an on-farm agtech program, hear first-hand from a farmer adopting agtech solutions, and digital services are getting a boost in WA.

Technology improving calf survival in northern Australia

As calving in northern Australian gets underway, birth sensors and GPS-tracking collars are helping producers bring down the rates of calf mortality in the beef industry. The Calf-Watch project, co-funded by the NT Department of Primary Industry and Resources and MLA, is seeking to get to the bottom of a problem that costs northern beef producers around $54 million annually.

Read the full article.

Farms of the Future

The NSW Government is running a Farms of the Future pilot program on three farms around regional NSW.

The pilot program will showcase the benefits and opportunities agtech can deliver for drought resilience, improved productivity and enhanced water security.

Led by the Department of Regional NSW, the Farms of the Future pilot program has installed a range of commercially available connectivity solutions and field sensor technology on three properties to test and demonstrate the benefits that can be delivered to farming via agtech.

The pilot program will showcase and educate on the benefits and opportunities offered through agtech, to see where the NSW Government can help farming communities to adopt new technologies to improve resource management, including water efficiency and drought preparedness.

First published as Farms of the Future, NSW Government.

Penny Schulz, co-owner and manager beef and sheep farm ‘Coolaroo’ and an adopter of agtech solutions. Photo: InDaily Adelaide

Technical innovations lend farmers a helping hand

A Coorong farmer has taken the pen and paper out of farm management by first adopting and then creating agtech solutions to improve livestock practices.

Beef and sheep farmer Penny Schulz, is a co-owner and manager of South East beef and sheep farm ‘Coolaroo’ and an adopter of agtech solutions to improve productivity. Schulz Livestock was one of the first adopters of farm management software solution Agriwebb, a platform removing the need to carry a notebook to record stock movements, animal health treatments and pasture management, while also helping to collect the right data required for audit and compliance purposes.

Penny says the software allows for a better record keeping process.

“It’s taking the pen and paper and excel spreadsheets out of the business,” she says.

“It helps us to be more efficient and more productive with our time. If an app doesn’t make your life easier why would you use it?

“There are many opportunities with AgTech and things are getting cheaper and easier to use.”

Penny predicts technologies such as sensors and automated systems, coupled with connected software programs, will become more predominant in SA farming circles.

“The exciting thing I can see is that some farmers are already going all out with automatic systems within their sheep and cattle yards to help with the management of animals,” she says.

“We have access to new software programs that go that one step further by using data you’ve been collecting and helping make some management decisions that ultimately improve efficiency, increase performance and have enhanced animal welfare.”

First published as Technical innovations lend farmers a helping hand, InDaily Adelaide, 26 August 2020.

Grainbelt Internet of Things project manager Darren Gibbon (left) with WA Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan and Agricultural Region MP Darren West. Photo: Farm Weekly

Boost for digital data service in regional WA

The WA State government will continue to fund the eConnected digital data service for the next four years, committing $8.1 million to the program last week.

The investment in the eConnected Grainbelt project, which provides essential digital data to Western Australia's primary industries will include the upgrade of 187 automated weather stations around the State.

In 2019 the platform processed more than 92.2 million data requests, more than double that of the previous year.

The eConnected digital data services project continues to be supported by the State government's Digital Farm Grants program, which has been rolling out high speed broadband to regional areas outside of the National Broadband Network footprint.

Under round two of the program, the Central Wheatbelt was awarded a $500,000 grant to boost the region's digital connectivity last week.

CRISP Wireless will install the broadband infrastructure in the Shires of Merredin, Bruce Rock and Narembeen to improve internet access across an area of up to 9800 square kilometres.

The investment is expected to benefit 65 agribusinesses in the area.

The eConnected project team also manages the WA Internet of Things DecisionAg Grants program which awarded funding to 13 grower groups, agricultural schools and colleges in 2019 to trial various on-farm connectivity solutions.

First published as State boost for vital digital data service, Farm Weekly, 29 July 2020.

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