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Agtech solutions awarded at field days innovation hub

Trough sensors, digital dashboards, personal safety alerts, livestock farm management software, technology for beekeepers, and on-farm reporting were all solutions developed by Australian agtech start-ups and showcased at Henty.

In recognition of NSW’s prominent role in AgTech, the 2023 Henty Machinery Field Days marked the resurgence of the Agri-Innovators Award in partnership with Farmers2Founders.

Entries were judged prior to the field days and the winners announced at the field days on September 21 by Farmers2Founders Program Manager AgTech Accelerators James Muir.

Technologies were showcased at the Henty TEKFARM Agritech Innovation Hub by Farmo, AirAgri, LBAgtech, Pairtree, Mobble, Black Box Co, and INCYT.

Henty farmer Daniel Klemke received the Innovative Producer Award for his livestock productivity solution; Nick Seymour, Farmo, received the Agritech Innovation of the Year; Hamish Munro, Pairtree, won the Emerging AgTech Innovation Award, and Jess Brunner, The Bee Buddy, won the Female Innovator of the Year.

Winners Nick Seymour from Farmo and Hamish Munro from Pairtree

Nick Seymour invented the concept of the Water Rat, a trough sensor, three years ago after losing cattle when a watering point failed and has refined the design over the last 12 months.

The battery-operated Water Rat is simply placed in the trough and once the water level drops, it tilts and sends an alert to the producer’s mobile phone.

“If the operator has half a bar of phone service at any particular trough or tank, the Water Rat will work. Most farmers know their property intimately in terms of mobile coverage so there is no confusion about where it will work or it won’t,” he said.

The plastic section of the Water Rat is injection moulded in China, the electronics made in Melbourne and the final assembly done in Footscray, Melbourne.

“The Water Rat is a backup or peace of mind so farmers can still have a life away from the farm,” Mr Seymour said.

Also displayed at Henty were Farmo gate sensors for retrofitting to farm gates, tank level monitor for reporting the water depth every few hours, an electric fence sensor and remote pump control.

A property specific humidity alert is due to be released for the hay cutting season.

Cattle producer Hamish Munro, of Cumnock, developed Pairtree, an independent platform to deliver cutting-edge services to the Australian agricultural sector to help producers make the most of the smart farm revolution.

Pairtree is a universal dashboard with more than 90 agtech, IoT, software and data integrations for weather, markets, satellite imagery, accounting and more.

During his time as a board member of Cattle Council of Australia, Hamish was given a glimpse of what lay over the horizon for agriculture.

“Farmers can choose any of the different apps out there and we put those apps together on the one dashboard,” he said.

“There is information and then there are insights, and that’s where we are trying to change the dial. How does the farmer get the best out of their investment of good quality hardware is the link.”

Pairtree recently began providing a dashboard for the Charles Sturt University Global Digital Farm of 20 different integrations of agtech.

The journey began in 2018 when NSW Department of Primary Industries approached Pairtree to visualise two research stations 30km apart.

“Where we really discovered our model for farmers was through Meat and Livestock Australia’s Red Meat Digital Forum in 2018. There were five farms, 15 different providers, 25 different device types, and 280 different devices we pulled together in six weeks,” Mr Munro said.

“We now have five developers and five staff working on business development, project management, communications and finance. Seven of the 10 staff are regionally, remotely based.”

As Pairtree director, Mr Munro said, “the Henty TEKFARM Agritech Innovation Hub allowed networking between businesses and capitalised on the strong presence of Farmers2Founders”.

Farmers2Founders Program Manager AgTech Accelerators James Muir said TEKFARM helped to identify problems and issues faced by farmers and producers on a daily basis and possible commercially viable solutions.

“Start-ups have a huge opportunity to do that. A key example of innovation is start-ups like SwarmFarm who are using robotics to help solve a prominent issue like labour problems,” Mr Muir said.

“We put farmers at the centre of innovation and take producers with an idea right through to a development prototype under programs funded by the research and development corporations, NSW and Victorian governments.

“At Henty we were talking to farmers about their problems and issues on farms across the region and are also looking for farmers interested in testing potential solutions.”

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