Farming goes high tech in Australia

The farming industry is arguably one of the last frontiers in digital transformation efforts, but not so in Australia, which has one of the biggest agriculture sectors in the world.

Since 2013, more farmers in the country have been turning to Agriwebb, a cloud-based livestock management application that helps farmers keep records of farming activities, including feed consumption and fertilisation, map out their farms, and make data-driven decisions about farms based on cost and performance.

Today, the application, which runs on Amazon Web Services (AWS), is being used to manage 2,000 farms across Australia, representing some 10% of the country’s livestock, according to Justin Webb, Agriwebb’s co-founder and chairman.

Much of Agriwebb’s success today would not have been possible without the use of cloud computing, which Webb said had enabled the start-up company to build an application that can scale with the growth of the business. Running the application on AWS’s infrastructure also ensures data security, which rivals that of enterprise-class datacentres.

Webb acknowledges that Agriwebb has the potential to expand its reach, beyond the farms it manages, to the entire supply chain. For instance, through the use of blockchain, logistics companies, distributors and even consumers will be able to identity the provenance of farm produce.

“We’re building a critical mass of data before we go into blockchain,” he told ComputerWeekly on the sidelines of the AWS Summit in Sydney this week.

In addition, Agriwebb is also looking at enabling farmers to ingest data from internet of things (IoT) devices into the platform, giving farmers a way to combine agronomic data from sensors in the field with livestock data to improve operations and yield.

Agriwebb has already won accolades for its work – it has nabbed at least four awards at the National Australian Information Industry Awards in 2016, making it the startup to watch in the years to come, not only in Australia, but also on the global agri-tech stage.

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