Agri-tech in­no­va­tion

The Western Star - - RURAL WEEKLY - AN­DREA DAVY An­drea.davy@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

IMAG­INE this: an app on your phone that alerts you when mois­ture lev­els are low in a pad­dock, and then al­lows you, with a click of a but­ton, to sched­ule your au­to­mated ir­ri­gation sys­tem.

That’s the goal be­hind the Kelpie App, an agri-tech start-up keen to pro­vide farm­ers a one-stop shop with all their dig­i­tal, data and farm-mon­i­tor­ing needs.

Kelpie, is one of five in­no­va­tive con­cepts that are part of the Brave Pitch com­pe­ti­tion, which will be judged at the Brave New World – Ag to 2030, the Ag In­sti­tute Aus­tralia (AIA) Na­tional Con­fer­ence at the end of this month.

Kelpie App was de­vel­oped dur­ing an agri-tech

com­pe­ti­tion in Wagga Wagga by Tim Klap­dor, Rob Stone and Ben Atkin­son.

Mr Klap­dor said you could think of the app like the Google Home for farm­ers.

“What we are aim­ing to do is a build a plat­form to ag­gre­gate some of the sys­tems and ser­vices that are com­ing on­line in agri­cul­ture,” he said.

“At the mo­ment, if you look at the ag-tech space, there are a lot of in­di­vid­ual prod­ucts that do an in­di­vid­ual thing.

“But a farmer doesn’t do one thing; they do a whole bunch of stuff and have a com­plex work­flow.”

Mr Klap­dor said at the mo­ment, tech-savvy pro­duc­ers keen to be at the top of their game would need to down­load about 15 apps on their phone.

“The idea is if we can bring all of those (con­cepts) into a sim­ple ap­pli­ca­tion, then farm­ers would only have to learn how to use one app,” he said.

“It will move be­yond giv­ing farm­ers a tool to make a de­ci­sion, to al­low­ing that de­ci­sion to be put into ac­tion.

“What we are aim­ing for is for a farmer to get an alert that the mois­ture probe in their pad­dock is say­ing it’s too dry, then they can au­to­mat­i­cally turn on their ir­ri­gation sys­tem.”

Mr Klap­dor has worked in the tech in­dus­try for more than a decade.

He shrugged off the idea that farm­ers weren’t keen to em­brace new tech­nol­ogy com­pared with other in­dus­tries.

“From our ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with farm­ers, I think the will­ing­ness is there,” he said.

“But I think a lot of what is on the mar­ket isn’t proven, so they are quite cau­tious. And un­der­stand­ably so. There is a lot at stake money wise – they have skin in the game.”

AIA vice-chair and or­gan­iser of Brave Pitch Guy Cole­man praised the short-listed fi­nal­ists who would be pre­sent­ing at this month’s con­fer­ence.

“They made it through some tough com­pe­ti­tion, tes­ta­ment to the in­cred­i­ble ag-tech ecosys­tem in Aus­tralia,” he said.

“Each of the five short-listed start-ups will now have the op­por­tu­nity to pitch their idea to the con­fer­ence au­di­ence and judg­ing panel, with a chance at $1000, ac­cess to the Thought For Food (TFF) Global Com­mu­nity, in­ter­na­tional in­vestors and a free ses­sion with a patent at­tor­ney.”

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

CON­FER­ENCE: The five par­tic­i­pants were short-listed from a strong field of ap­pli­cants, ac­cord­ing to Guy Cole­man, AIA vice-chair and or­gan­iser of the Brave Pitch.

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