AUSTRALIAN farmers need to embrace data in order to stay profitable, according to a young Argentinean entrepreneur.
Co-founder of LESS Industries, Sebastian Cerone, has established himself within the horticulture hub of Bundaberg, Qld in order to help develop his technology which gives growers access to live data to help with on-the-go decision making.
LESS Industries is regarded as an "internet of things company" with paying customers in Australia, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Kenya.
The technology aims to help farmers improve different agricultural processes, reduce the consumption of natural resources and increase efficiency.
- Data will be king in global ag trade
- Big data can help reduce wastage
- New business looks to track live fruit fly data
The suite of products includes units which can save water in irrigation, monitor conditions during shipping, and reduce the cost of grain storage through early detection of spoilage.
At the core of LESS Industries is a network of devices that perform sensing of relevant conditions and send the data to the cloud application for visualisation, analysis and decision making.
The cloud application is accessible from any computer or smart phone.
Mr Cerone said one of the main reasons farmers needed to embrace an information flow was because of global warming.
"The weather is changing and it's changing fast. We cannot say, well last year I irrigated that way or I did my practices in that way, and I will repeat the same procedure," he said.
"This year we could have more rain or more sun. You have to change in real time."
One example of this on-the-fly adjustment comes via LESS Industries' soil analysis device which has up to eight sensors that measure soil moisture, conductivity and temperature.
This allows the client to measure soil conditions at multiple different depths.
It also measures the ambient temperature and humidity to give advanced warning of frost conditions.
Mr Cerone said having access to this sort of technology gives the smaller producers a leg-up.
"The major players in the industry worldwide are having better prices because of different reasons, generally economics or labour costs, so you need to find competitive ways, you need to be more precise in your production in order to save costs and be able to sell at the same price with more profit or reduce your prices and keep the same profit," he said.
Another device monitors controlled flooding in rice cultivation.
The rice monitoring solution gives the grower the ability to instantly measure the water level as well as water temperature during rice field flooding, allowing fine-grained control of the flooding process and providing timely alerts regarding key conditions.
The device can last up to a year on a single battery charge. The battery is rechargeable with a standard USB charger.
LESS Industries has also developed a solar powered livestock tracking collar that allows the producer to continuously track the position of livestock such as sheep and cattle.
The software provides a geofencing feature where the farmer can define a virtual perimeter and be notified if an animal goes outside the designated zone.
The daily movement by the animal can also be used to assess the health of the animal.
The collar provides an anti-theft feature whereby the farmer is notified if it is removed from the animal.
Mr Cerone came to Bundaberg after being awarded a technology business grant from Advance Qld.
He said there were several options given for places to set up shop in the Sunshine State including Brisbane, Toowoomba, Mackay, Rockhampton and Cairns.
"I thought, if I'm going to spend some time living in Australia, I want to live next to the sea because all the photos and all the pictures I've seen were just amazing," he said.
His decision was reinforced upon his arrival, not only by the diversity of agriculture crops within reach but by the people as well.
He said he was blown away when he asked someone where a particular place was and they offered to drive him there.
"The people are so friendly, so kind," he said.
Living in the coastal town has led to other opportunities and applications for the technology.
LESS Industries is working with resource management body, the Burnett Mary Regional Group (BMRG), providing a solution for monitoring temperature and sand moisture in turtle nests.
The company is using its technology for monitoring soil moisture and temperature in farms to help increase turtle population
Mr Cerone's work has been recognised on a national level, picking up the 2017-2018 Australia – Latin America Young Entrepreneur Award from the Council on Australia Latin America Relations (COALAR) in June.