AGRICULTURE featured in Telstra's annual innovation challenge this year, with the winners delivering new solutions to on-farm problems.
A prize pool of $22,000 was on offer. Contestants were split into two streams, public and university.
Contestants were selected from a pool of applicants. University teams had five weeks to develop and then pitch their solution to a panel of judges. Public entrants had one week. An award for most innovative solution was on offer for both streams.
Winners in the public and university streams were awarded $10,000, with $2000 on offer for the innovation prize.
This year competitors were asked to develop a solution for an industry challenge through an agricultural internet of things (IoT).
An internet of things is comprised of a network of physical devices which are interconnected to collect and exchange data.
Telstra awarded three winners in an event at its Melbourne headquarters. The winners were an intelligent fertiliser tank, a bee hive monitoring solution, and a modular fertigation system to control nutrient distribution.
Public Stream: DiUS
DiUS designed an intelligent fertiliser tank to track usage against weather conditions to optimise fertiliser efficiency.
The monitoring solution can notify suppliers when bins are full to reduce unnecessary re-fill trips.
University Stream: Central Queensland University, Bundaberg Campus
CQU produced a modular fertigation control, for nutrient distribution, in cropping irrigation systems.
Telstra said the design is low cost, and can replace many existing irrigation control systems. The system also tracks usage against climate data to optimise fertiliser usage.
Innovation Winner: Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
RMIT constructed the ‘Bee Secure’ hive monitoring solution, which is designed to monitor conditions in hives, incorporating automation and artificial intelligence technology to alter conditions around the hive to benefit the bees.
Landmark was Telstra’s agriculture industry partner for the challenge.
"We saw over the last five weeks that the future of agriculture and the IoT revolution are both intimately entwined and in incredibly capable hands,” said Landmark precision ag manager Garrett Watson.
“The winning solutions went above and beyond in solving real problems, using ground-breaking technology to make the solution simple, and engaging the entire agriculture sector to ensure real-world applicability.”
Telstra Chief Technology Officer Håkan Eriksson said the challenge required teams to use hardware from open source providers.
“The Challenge used specific hardware, including a Cat 1 module and Arduino, to get participants thinking about lower-powered IoT devices. This mentality is particularly aligned with the agricultural industry, where accessibility and full coverage over a large property can be a challenge,” he said.
“It was great to see all the teams embracing the Challenge and using the hardware to build such innovative and high quality solutions.”