News & Analysis

CSIRO and agtech startup Digital Agriculture Services launch Rural Intelligence Platform

- January 18, 2019 2 MIN READ
Digital Agriculture Services

The CSIRO has launched the Rural Intelligence Platform, a platform using satellite imagery to track paddocks and their performance over time, to better inform decision making in the agricultural sector.

The product is the result of a collaboration with agtech startup Digital Agriculture Services (DAS), which was cofounded by Anthony Willmott, Rob Mellor, and Jonathon Clark in 2017 with CSIRO as its equity and research and development partner.

The Rural Intelligence Platform draws on information from trusted data sources on factors including productivity, water access, yield, land use, crop type, rainfall, and drought impact to provide a picture of both what has happened on a property historically and its current situation.

According to Dr Michael Robertson, CSIRO agriculture and food deputy director, the platform brings together and refines a range of technologies developed by CSIRO, with the data collected by the platform then analysed by machine learning algorithms to provide users with insights about their paddocks.

“The platform provides accurate information that can help to identify vulnerability or the most promising options for investment that will build resilience. This is a whole new model for rural analytics which will make it easier to quantify risk and prepare for challenges like climate volatility and change,” he said.

The platform also incorporates an automated valuation model that can value rural properties with up to 90 percent accuracy.

Willmott, CEO of DAS, said that digital agriculture is more than just on-farm technology.

“It’s also about improving off-farm decision making and this platform lays the foundation for Australia to become a leader in new generation agricultural analytics,” he explained.

“This is about supporting the ecosystem that supports the farmer, ensuring that farmers, business, policy makers and anyone invested along the agricultural ecosystem has the right rural data to make more informed decisions.”

With DAS estimating that around $125 billion in agricultural economic decisions in Australia are based on unreliable or incomplete data annually, the market for the platform is significant: the market for digital agriculture in the Asia Pacific region is expected to grow reach up to $25 billion by 2028.

With that in mind, a number of Australian startups are working in this space.

Among them is AgriWebb, founded in 2013 by Justin Webb, John Fargher, Kevin Baum, and Philip Chan to help farmers do away with pen and paper.

The startup’s software allows users to create maps of their farm and then track mob movements and grazing to help track feed-on-offer and daily consumption, manage animals individually, and create, allocate, and track team tasks.

It is operating on more than 1,700 farms across Australia, covering 35 million acres, with 10 percent of Australia’s livestock under management on its software. It has also expanded internationally, with around a third of its customer base based overseas.

Image: Anthony Willmott. Source: Supplied.

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