Australia : The GATE second round of agri tech ideas

From weed-seeking drones to biodegradable herbicides that won’t harm native plants, a new crop of products to save farmers time and money has taken root at the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI*) Global Ag-Tech Ecosystem (GATE*).

DPI Deputy Director General Investment and Business Development Michael Bullen said 10 projects to bring innovative new products to market had been selected for the GATE’s second round of incubation and mentoring workshops, beginning this week.

“The GATE develops ag-tech research into commercialised products in collaboration with business and technology providers, and has been in operation since March this year,” Mr Bullen said. “We have chosen 10 external projects for a 3 month, part time business development course, with participants from Orange, Peak Hill, Dubbo and Trangie as well as Wagga, Yass and Sydney.”

Peak Hill entrepreneur Tristan Steventon grew up on the land, but it is his 20 years in the Australian military which he draws on for his innovative use of drone technology. “Drones provide an excellent opportunity for driving precision data in those spaces where satellites and other technology can’t, such as weed detection in paddocks to better target treatments which saves time and money,” he said. “They could also map emergence for cotton, or yield potential in a corn crop - there are many applications.
“I see the GATE as an opportunity to meet people, get a better understanding of the industry and really map the best next steps by testing my assumptions with strong business heads,” he said.

John Garrett is a corporate lawyer who lives just outside of Orange, and has been refining an organic, biodegradable and non-toxic herbicide product for the protection of crops, and native and non-target plants for the past two years. “I am hoping that this partnership with DPI through the gate will give us access to excellent contacts, information and the capacity to look further into this herbicide becoming a marketable, economic alternative to glysophate,” he said.

Other projects include dashboards and apps for enhanced farm and forestry management, workforce development, and farmer fitness; electromagnetic water profile measurement; and genomic measurement technology to enhance biosecurity monitoring.

The DPI is also supporting the development of 9 ag-tech projects from its own researchers, with applications across viticulture, livestock robotics, wheat diseases and herbicide monitoring.

Since its operational establishment in March 2018 the GATE has commenced with 14 lead projects, and six major projects including three collaborative R&D projects with start-up businesses.

*DPI =

*The Gate = a DPI initiative to fast-track adoption of agricultural R&D to increase productivity. The GATE is accessible to any individual, company and research organisation wishing to explore the viability of an agri tech idea.