AgTech innovation in regional South Australia will get a significant boost with the Marshall Liberal Government today launching a world-class business hub and demonstration farm in the Riverland.
The Marshall Liberal Government has partnered with the University of Adelaide’s ThincLab to establish a unique AgTech incubator at the Loxton Research Centre set to foster entrepreneurial thinking to help grow South Australia’s agricultural industries.
An AgTech Demonstration Farm is also being launched at the Loxton Research Centre to help show producers in the region the productivity benefits of taking up innovative technology.
Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said the launch of the AgTech incubator and the demonstration farm are exciting steps forward.
“The agriculture industry is a cornerstone of South Australia’s economy and being able to establish an AgTech innovation hub in the Riverland will help foster new ideas to improve productivity and grow the sector,” said Minister Whetstone.
“The partnership with the University of Adelaide through ThincLab will revolutionise the ways our producers interact with AgTech and I would encourage all of our farming sectors to tap into this exciting new opportunity.
“Participants will be provided with desk space for up to two years at the Loxton Research Centre and mentors will work one-on-one with participants on topics such as business strategy, marketing, and branding.
“The agriculture industry is undergoing a technological revolution across the world, and with a reputation for both excellent produce and innovation, South Australia is perfectly positioned to lead the AgTech revolution in Australia.”
Minister Whetstone said the concept of an AgTech incubator resulted from a business mission to Israel as part of a South Australian delegation last year.
“A key take away from my trip to Israel was the collaboration and strong mentoring support for start-ups and entrepreneurs in the food sector to pursue their business ideas,” said Minister Whetstone.
“This AgTech incubator is designed for start-ups wishing to access high calibre entrepreneurship services, as well as assist existing local businesses which have the potential to grow.
“This new concept for regional South Australia will provide a valuable opportunity drive innovation, and ultimately improve productivity in our agricultural industries.
“If we get this concept right, it could be a game changer for regional South Australia.”
Dean of Business of the University of Adelaide, Professor Noel Lindsay, said ThincLab Loxton is the fifth ThincLab to be established, joining labs at the University of Adelaide’s North Terrace and Waite campuses, in Singapore, and in Chalôns in France.
“ThincLab provides a supportive business environment that drives commercialisation and entrepreneurship opportunities for start-ups, students, staff and like-minded members of the community, helping to foster innovation in South Australia and globally,” Professor Lindsay said.
“Industry mentors with relevant expertise will be on ground in Loxton to work one-on-one with the participants on a variety of topics such as business strategy, marketing, branding, and IP considerations, to name a few.
“We are very excited to take this to regional South Australia and to see what ThincLab Loxton will unearth.”
The first four AgTech suppliers being showcased at the Loxton Demonstration Farm are targeted towards helping farmers to manage crops:
• The Arable Mark 2, distributed by D3Ag, is an exciting new, first of its kind, in-field weather and crop monitoring device that delivers real-time, actionable insights for managing weather risk and crop health.
• MEA delivers climate and soil moisture data, via their sensors, to the farmer via the web in a manner that improves the certainty and reduces the time taken to make important operational decisions. The MEA Green Brain web app, which has been developed to respond to farmers’ questions, benefits from a network of agronomists to answer queries. The ‘Green Brain’ can even intelligently calculate for how long or (how much) farmers need to irrigate.
• CropX has created a farm management tool, a platform comprised of a soil sensor integrated into a big data platform. The system can automatically generate an adaptive, variable-rate irrigation prescription that takes into account the changing conditions of soil and weather, and adapts to the specific crop and its growth stage.
• Tevatronic has developed a technological solution that makes growing crops autonomous when it comes to irrigation and fertilisation. The system is fully capable of deciding when and how much to irrigate, and can execute the irrigation decision without human intervention.
To find out more about the AgTech demo farm at Loxton and how producers can get involved, go to www.pir.sa.gov.au/primary_industry/agtech