AusFAC 2019

2019 AusFAC Competitors

In November 2019, AusFAC was hosted on the Atherton Tablelands in Tropical North Queensland. The series of events over the weekend took place on magnificent banana and coffee farms and the packed programme featured leading speakers in agtech and innovation – Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur Leanne Kemp and KPMG Head of AgriTech Ben van Delden.

Once again, the six finalists all presented an impressive calibre of solutions to some of the biggest challenges in food and farming.

 

Congratulations to BioScout, crowned the fourth Australian Agripreneur of the Year, who will be competing at the Global Future Agro Challenge in 2021!

BioScout

BioScout – Automating Airborne Disease Tracking

Competitor Bio

Name: Saron Berhane

Category: Sensors

The Problem And How You Are Solving It:
Growers lose at least 20% of their crop yield to plant diseases each growing season, which amounts to $2.6bn per year in losses to the market and potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars for individuals.

The techniques currently used to monitor plant disease spread use labour and time-intensive scouting techniques to determine the sources of infection on farmland. Crop scouts must
travel great distances in a field but overall, only have the capacity to sample a small area of a field.

The practice of scouting relies heavily on the experience and expertise of the individual performing
the inspection and so there is the potential for errors or misdiagnosis. If disease is suspected, farmers and agronomists have the ability to send samples to pathology labs where they can be
more thoroughly analysed and accurately diagnosed.

However, given the remote location of most farms, this process can be slow (i.e. turnaround time for results is around 1-3 weeks) and this
method also relies on the samples being physically transported hundreds – thousands of kilometres away.

We are solving this by giving our uses real-time data about the identity, density and location of pathogens in a crop field. By positioning multiple devices in the field, they benefit from whole field mapping and receive unprecedented visibility and information about the state of disease in their field.

Business Description:
BioScout provides a real-time disease tracking solution for farmers and agronomists who want to minimise their losses and expenditure due to airborne plant diseases. Our services provide much-needed data and visibility to users that ultimately saves them yield quality and quantity as well as minimise fungicide resistance. Unlike traditional disease detection and management methods, which can only see and react to diseases after they have spread costing farmers billions, our airborne disease tracking platform lets farmers know when disease strikes and what they can do about it. BioScout Pty Ltd has its headquarters in Sydney, Australia and is owned and managed by Lewis Collins, Saron Berhane, Henry Brindle and Josh Wilson. All four directors have extensive engineering experience (in their respective fields) as well as backgrounds in science and mathematics. The directors currently take on hands-on management roles in the company.

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Ubot

Ubot Autonomous Citrus Harvestor picks oranges using deep learning algorithms, costs less than a human and works 24/7. 

Competitor Bio

Name: John Barraclough

Website: http://www.uagbionutrients.com

Category: Waste Technology

The Problem And How You Are Solving It:
The world’s soils are depleting. The issue is best exemplified by the United Nations declaring 2015 ‘the year of the soil’ in recognition that we need to feed 70% more people by 2050, and the same
organisation now proclaiming that there are 57 crops left in the world’s soils unless we change farming practices. Our process delivers nutrient-dense organic fertilisers as part of the process to
deliver nutrient-dense soils for regenerative farming – made from organic waste. Our process impacts ag tech, food security and sustainability, food waste and nutrition and health.

Business Description:
We combine and enhance proven natural technologies (anaerobic digestion and vermiculture) to deliver regenerative farming, so we can rebuild the sustainable productivity of our soils and build
sustainable farming communities. Our process produces superior quality organic fertiliser to rebuild depleted soils and low-cost renewable energy from organic waste. The process does not pollute.
Our process positively impacts across the waste, environment, clean energy, broad-scale agriculture and intensive agriculture industry sectors.

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SWAN Systems

SWAN – an analytics platform that guides irrigation & nutrient scheduling for superior economic & environmental returns.

Competitor Bio

Name: Tim Hyde

Website: https://www.swansystems.com.au/

Category: Precision Agriculture & Predictive Data Analytics

The Problem And How You Are Solving It:
Irrigation consumes 70% of the world’s freshwater but increasing scarcity & quality issues are creating economic, environmental and social drivers for improved efficiency and compliance. SWAN is a predictive and scalable software solution delivering precise information for enhanced decision making to reduce water use and optimise crop performance. SWAN collects data via telemetry to
process by proprietary algorithms for irrigation/nutrient scheduling and monitoring capability. It is automated and configurable to ensure a tailored outcome. SWAN is uniquely hardware independent
for adaptation to existing infrastructure and the only system to integrate a nutrient module covering the increased use of nonpotable water with eutrophication considerations. SWAN is applicable
to any irrigation industry, whether it be turf, agriculture, horticulture, sports grounds, or the recycled water sector.

Business Description:
SWAN Systems is a web-based analytics platform that incorporates the latest technologies to schedule and monitor optimal water and nutrient application rates for the irrigation industry. Telemetry is used to receive a range of data inputs including 7-day site-specific weather forecasts, actual irrigated volumes applied and soil moisture readings, weather station observation data & satellite imagery. This data is then processed by algorithms in reference to soil type, crop type, water source, phenological phase and type of irrigation hardware to inform the user as to the right time and amount of water to be applied. The nutrient module monitors fertiliser mixes, timing of applications and nutrient uptake curves and tracks this in the context of the irrigation program. It is
estimated that up to 80% of a plant’s productivity is tied to watering and fertilisation activity, so getting these programs right is essential for superior crop performance. SWAN is about collecting data from multiple sites and running it through configurable settings to give onground management all the tools to achieve precise agronomic requirements specific to a crop type, region or country. It also allows for technical expertise to oversee crop irrigation and nutrient application simply and easily from anywhere in the world.

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UAG Bio Nutrients

Our vision is to feed the world from waste to plate, healthily, sustainably and profitably.

Competitor Bio

Name: John Barraclough

Website: http://www.uagbionutrients.com

Category: Waste Technology

Pitch:
Our vision is to feed the world from waste to plate, healthily, sustainably and profitably.

The Problem And How You Are Solving It:
The world’s soils are depleting. The issue is best exemplified by the United Nations declaring 2015 ‘the year of the soil’ in recognition that we need to feed 70% more people by 2050, and the same
organisation now proclaiming that there are 57 crops left in the world’s soils unless we change farming practices. Our process delivers nutrient-dense organic fertilisers as part of the process to
deliver nutrient-dense soils for regenerative farming – made from organic waste. Our process impacts ag tech, food security and sustainability, food waste and nutrition and health.

Business Description:
We combine and enhance proven natural technologies (anaerobic digestion and vermiculture) to deliver regenerative farming, so we can rebuild the sustainable productivity of our soils and build
sustainable farming communities. Our process produces superior quality organic fertiliser to rebuild depleted soils and low-cost renewable energy from organic waste. The process does not pollute.
Our process positively impacts across the waste, environment, clean energy, broad-scale agriculture and intensive agriculture industry sectors.

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SmartShepherd

SmartShepherd uses electronic collars to determine the maternal line pedigree in free-range livestock.

Competitor Bio

Name: David Rubie

Website: https://www.smartshepherd.com.au

Category: Animal Husbandry

Pitch:
SmartShepherd uses electronic collars to determine the maternal line pedigree in free-range livestock.

The Problem And How You Are Solving It:
Free-range livestock typically have a low percentage of maternal pedigree, due to the difficulties and expense in collecting it. Farmers wishing to determine profitability at a per-animal level and build breeding programs to improve maternal genetics must collect this information. SmartShepherd determines maternal pedigree in free-range livestock using low-cost Bluetooth LE hardware and a proprietary algorithm to determine pedigree in around 48 hours.
The information is then used to determine which female breeding stock are producing the best offspring. Pedigree information can be fed back into breeding programs to improve the overall level of productivity of a farm. A substantial portion of any offspring performance is determined by the mothering ability of their parents.

Business Description:
SmartShepherd uses locally based service providers to deliver the system. We currently have two operators (Sheepmatters in Australia with 15 service providers around the country) and Four Good Foods in New Zealand who recently purchased 2000 collars to set up a similar operation for New Zealand farmers. SmartShepherd revenue comes directly from collar sales to operators, as well as a per-use charge on each collar. The collars are rented to farmers (who undergo training from their local service provider). The operator’s revenue comes directly from farmers, while SmartShepherd revenue is gained from each operator. In the background, we are building an international pedigree database which will quickly grow in size and allow SmartShepherd to provide breeding insights to farmers internationally.

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https://sosv.com/portfolio/smart-shepherd/

MPT AgTech

This ‘Smart Seeder’ technology measures the properties of the soil in real-time while seeding, and using on-board Edge-Artificial Intelligence, is able to optimise itself for best seed placement. This helps overcome the challenges of soil quality variations across a property, which sees a third of seeds placed too deep and a third placed too shallow on the average farm.

Competitor Bio

Name: David Finlay

Website: https://www.moistureplant.com/

Category:
Precision Agriculture & Predictive Data Analytics

Pitch:
This ‘Smart Seeder’ technology measures the properties of the soil in real-time while seeding, and using on-board Edge-Artificial Intelligence, is able to optimise itself for best seed placement. This helps overcome the challenges of soil quality variations across a property, which sees a third of seeds placed too deep and a third placed too shallow on the average farm.

MPTAgTech product

The Problem And How You Are Solving It:
Natural variations are inherent to agriculture. When it comes to soil moisture, a whole raft of variables affect the outcomes: Rainfall, Soil Type, Aspect, Wind, Sun etc. Standard seeding equipment doesn’t know where these changes are either, meaning potentially a 3rd of the seeds are placed too deep, and a 3rd are placed too shallow.
This means that a 3rd of the crop will suffer from late emergence, and another 3rd may not emerge at all. Our ‘Smart Seeder’ is measuring the properties of the soil in real-time while seeding, and using onboard Edge-AI, is able to optimise itself for best seed placement.

Business Description:
We have been designing Ag equipment for around 20 years. Recently we have seen this equipment getting much bigger, and breaking. So we went looking for a better way, and when we spoke to farmers, they told us stories of not only the huge fuel burn but also the variations they knew of within the soil. We were on a mission to resolve these issues, and not only did we find this smart
solution, but we also found research papers that suggested we could potentially increase crop yield by around 10% by doing do.

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