Fleet teams up with University innovators to trial precision farming technology


Fleet has joined forces with innovators at the University of Tasmania in the world of big data, sensors and space technology to trial their first local precision farming project, set to revolutionise the global agriculture industry.

A partnership between the University’s Industrial Transformation Research Hub, Pathways to MarketSense-T and Fleet Space Technologies is underway in Hamilton north-west of Hobart. The first-of-its-kind telemetry project will monitor farm temperatures and soil moisture, comparing data captured via ground sensors relayed through LoRa networks, and data captured via satellites.

The project aims to give Fleet engineers and University researchers ultra-granular data, forming insights into the challenges facing the Australian agriculture industry. The insights will inform ambitious plans for industry transformation that will see world-class technology increase operational efficiency, yields and supply chain outcomes.

Associate Professor Laurie Bonney, Director of Pathways to Market, says: “As our global population continues to grow exponentially, we’re facing huge challenges in keeping up with the rate of food production and resource depletion. This project is a critical step forward to precisely monitor every step in our food supply chain, to ultimately increase global production efficiencies.

”From the farm, producers will be able to collect precise data to drive environmentally sustainable practices with novel sensing techniques and smart applications to easily report on animals, crops and environmental performance.”

Pathways to Market and Sense-T are working to understand the challenges of transmitting data from remote area farms and supply chains into the Cloud while providing producers and processors with new analytical tools for decision-making, and in doing so, addresses key issues initiated within Pathways to Market’s suite of projects.

“The agriculture and food production industries operate in a highly competitive global market, if there’s inefficiency at any stage of the food supply chain it affects the whole chain, and ultimately impacts consumers,” Associate Professor Stephen Cahoon, Director of Sense-T, said. “Producers are now looking towards innovative technologies to solve key challenges and remain competitive.”

Flavia Tata Nardini, CEO of Fleet Space Technologies, adds: “Working with experts in precision farming such as Sense-T will help test advanced technologies to deliver learnings about the scale and impact that precision farming can have for farmers both here in Australia, and globally.

“More than 61 per cent of Australia’s land mass is owned by farmers and the implications of operating in remote, often harsh, conditions throw up challenges that require urgent attention.

“The untapped potential of Internet of Things (IoT) devices in transforming the global agriculture industry at a macro and micro level is astonishing. But the remote nature of farming means that right now there’s a severe limitation in the number of devices that can connect to the internet.”

The Hamilton Telemetry Pilot is driven by three essential outputs; powering local food industry competitiveness, encouraging environmental sustainability, and fostering innovation in food chains from producers through to end consumers.

About Pathways to Market

The Pathways to Market project is a five-year research collaboration providing digitally-backed solutions to Australian food exporters and their supply chains. This $5 million project is funded jointly by the Australian Research Council, the University of Tasmania and industry participants. Pathways to Market conducts leading-edge research in on-farm and supply chain sensing to enhance decision-making from paddock to plate using business and computer and information science. The project develops smart applications relating to food provenance, environmental performance, food value chain optimisation, consumer choice and market behaviour in diverse food supply chains.

About Sense-T

Sense-T is an innovative program within the University of Tasmania with extensive capabilities across the Internet of Things (IoT) spectrum gained from the completion of over 25 major industry-focused projects over the last six years.  Sense-T works closely with industry to improve decision-making through the adoption of data and technology-based solutions.  Underpinning Sense-T’s data value chain approach is its IoT sensor agnostic data platform, developed in collaboration with Data61, which provides a secure and integrated end to end solution integrating data acquisition, analytics and visualisation tools.  Sense-T, as an enabler of transformative digital remains at the forefront of developing and adopting new technologies which help solve local business and industry challenges, enhance productivity and competitiveness.

Matthew Pearson