It would be wrong to assume that there’s nothing going on in rural Australia tech-wise beyond agritech, with last month’s Regional PitchFest in Wagga Wagga showing that there are startups working on everything from sportstech to art subscription services.
However, there is also a lot going on in the agritech space, and while city slickers won’t hesitate to give problems in the agricultural sector a crack, no community is better placed to come up with innovative solutions for the sector than a rural community facing the problems first-hand.
That’s the idea behind Agrihack, an agritech hackathon to be held at Charles Sturt University in Wagga Wagga in September. An initiative of the RGTC Group, run by director Dianna Somerville, the event wants to help position the Riverina as the agriculture centre of regional innovation.
Kicking off on Friday September 16, the event will have students from surrounding rural areas visit the Charles Sturt School of Agriculture. As well as an introduction to coding, here they will be encouraged to start thinking about agriculture from a research and development perspective, seeing their future in agriculture as not sitting on a tractor but instead inventing programs to drive the machinery for them.
The rest of the weekend will have participants take part in either a tech hack, focused on a grain-related challenge, or a social hack, looking to tackle the problem of female mental health on the land.
The event will look to support innovation and entrepreneurship that enhances agriculture and the rural lifestyle, hoping to become an annual event that brings innovation to regional Australia and further connects the entrepreneurial ecosystems of metro areas to rural developers.
The potential for agritech solutions is endless, and having rural communities themselves work on the problems is crucial – perhaps most importantly because they are better able to identify the problems in the first place thanks to lived experiences, problems that hackers in metro areas didn’t know existed.
For example, founder of farm machinery hire platform AgTribe Andrew Stevens told Startup Daily on a visit to his farm that he could envision drones being used to spray crops in the event of the soil being too wet for machinery to be used on the land. At the moment, farmers are forced to spend big on hiring helicopters to spray instead.
Taking the time to learn the problems facing the agricultural sector and work to solve them is well worth our while: figures from the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences released earlier this year tipped the value of Australian agricultural production to pass $60 billion for the first time next year.
You can learn more about Agrihack here.
Image source: AgriHack.