Farm Tender

Ag Tech Sunday - 8 pillars of Ag Tech

By Belinda Lay - MAICD Non Executive Director at WA Meat Industry Authority and Wes Lawrence

Read the full article here.

There are many benefits emerging from Agtech adoption that could assist with improved production and I have been on a personal journey of discovery in regards to implementing end to end solutions. On this journey, whereby I have had to take in a lot of new information and process it, including terminologies, then test my understandings to make sure I had it straight. It is at this point I would like to thank Wes from Axistech for being a knowledgable sounding board and together we have pieced together the 8 pillar framework to help clarify the language around this space and clearly define for producers the process surrounding Agtech implementation.

One of the things I have observed in my journey over the last 2 years is that because some of these pillars are intrinsically connected they are often bundled together and that creates confusion because the process is not clearly understood. The 8 pillar framework is aimed at assisting the entire agricultural industry to develop a knowledge base that creates understanding, drives adoption, gives all levels of the industry another set of tools to problem solve with.

The 8 pillars are-

Installation: Identifying the problem that needs solving, assessing the environment in which an Agtech solution will assist in solving that problem, understanding the importance of the actual physical installation and key considerations in regard to environment and location.

Sensors: Sensors are the specific component in a device that undertakes key measurements. A device may have one or multiple sensors that may be external or internal. The data output and the nature of the solution is dependant on the sensors that exist within a device. Sensor quality and function is a component of data quality and reliability.

Devices: A device controls and powers sensors and communication modules. It takes sensor readings and packages them into messages and transmits them within its programmed format.

 Connectivity: There are a plethora of connectivity options and terminology and how it all fits together, including Bluetooth, WIFI, 3G/4G/5G cellular, LoRaWAN, Sigfox, ISM radio frequency, UHF, satellite, NBN, base stations, gateways, modems and backhaul.

Data Ingestion: Unpacks how device messages are handled and how it becomes data. Provides understanding of how batch and historical data is handled, how farm records can be digitised, and covers attributes, units of measurement and the importance of data standardisation.

Data Storage: Covers data management terminology like servers, cloud, AWS, Azure, SQL, databases; includes where is it, who holds it, who owns in who has access to it, what is it being used for.

On Farm Data Consumption: Looks at applications, dashboards and apps with a focus on the farm or individual business level solution layer. Covers consumption of third party data such as satellite imagery as well vision from drones and cameras. Builds understanding around how layers of data can be used for farmer benefit.

Aggregated Data Consumption: Shows how and why aggregated consumption is emerging as the new frontier and covers data sharing, data hubs, grouped displays and machine learning, and 3rd party consumption of data such as traceability and benchmarking.

By understanding the 8 pillar framework I have evolved my knowledge and understanding of how end-to-end solutions are put together, the benefits and limitations of the technology and how to apply solutions within my individual enterprise. With each new implementation I mentally assess each step of the 8 pillars to identify where we are in bringing that technology on line and what is needed to be undertaken next.

Resulting in bringing my whole farm to a new level of On farm Data consumption provided by aggregating disparate data into one place, in achieving this outcome I am able to undertake analysis on farm production not previously possible, it also facilitates my ability to conduct my own on farm research. It has now reached a level whereby it is starting to determine the next installation.

Belinda Lay (c[email protected]) Esperance Farmer and Winner of the '2019 WA Agrifutures Rural Women's Award. Known for her sheep collar trials to address sheep livestock priorities including animal welfare, improved lamb survival & the implementation of novel technology for commercial farm management. Coolindown Farms is the first in Australia to use IoT devices to track animal welfare using the Sigfox network.

Wes Lawrence ([email protected]) Grew up on a farm in the Great Southern of WA, has been working with a variety of electronics and radio frequency tech for more than 10 years. He is the founder and Managing Director of AgTech company AxisTech, which provides IoT devices and data management solutions to agribusiness.