Farm tech trial yields results
A SMART technology trial which aims to take the guesswork out of crop farming has been backed by the City of Greater Geelong.
The city’s Internet of Things (IoT) network is helping make the clever technology trial take place in the paddocks at Marcus Oldham Farm Management College.
In-ground sensors are being used to monitor soil moisture and temperature in wheat trials to assist with making decisions about crop nutrition, protection and yield.
The college has been investigating smart farming practices for some time and recently attended the city’s IoT Kickstarter as part of Geelong Design Week 2021.
Utilising the city’s IoT network, which provides coverage to 90 per cent of the city and is open to anyone, they receive sensor data through a WiFi-like connection.
This allows the college to draw information into a platform for analysis in near real-time and means they can gather intelligence without stepping foot in a field.
It also enables the layering of other datasets such as rainfall, for even deeper insight.
Andrew Etherton, agronomy lecturer at the college, said innovations in agtech were allowing farmers to take a more precise, productive and resource-efficient approach.
“It’s no longer just about planting the right crop, in the right location, at the right time, we now have real data backing up these decisions,” he said.
“After an episode of extreme heat or frost, we have the immediate insight to know how this might affect yield potential and in turn likely income, without the guesswork.”
Data-driven precision farming allows agricultural practises to be more controlled, accurate and sustainable.
Plants and animals get exactly the type of care and conditions they need to thrive, and water and other resources can be used more efficiently.
Mr Etherton said Marcus Oldham students were at the forefront of the agricultural production industry, thanks to the city’s backing of this technology.
Geelong mayor Stephanie Asher said it was great the city could provide the extra support the college needed to begin the trial, through the Geelong Design Week event.
“It’s fantastic to see this group engaging with our Smart City work and utilising the technology we have on offer to make a difference in the community and to our environment,” Cr Asher said.
Cr Peter Murrihy, chair of the Innovative Solutions portfolio, said it was exciting to hear that IoT connectivity could be a potential game-changer for Australian farmers and producers.
“This type of project is exactly what the Internet of Things, and our whole Smart City Framework, is about – delivering practical and innovative solutions to real-life situations,” Cr Murrihy said.
Discover more about the The Things Network Geelong by visiting thethingsnetwork.org/community/geelong/.