ADAMA Australia extends AgTech innovation drive

ADAMA Australia continues to develop its long-term AgTech strategy to provide Australian farmers with the latest technology options to support their farming needs.

The leading crop protection company recently introduced a new dedicated AgTech role within the company to the support this important area of focus.

Andrew Newall joined the team in November 2018 as AgTech and Innovation Manager and has been busy working closely with the sales team and customers to understand what AgTech opportunities are out there.

A key project under development is the ADAMA Australia’s unique decision support tool, ReefAware® which launched in 2016 to support cane growers and advisors maximise herbicide efficacy while minimising runoff and its potential environmental impact.

Suitable for iPhone, iPad and Android smartphones, the ReefAware App assesses the suitability and timing of herbicide application by taking recent, current and short-term forecast weather conditions into account along with site soil type, topography and proximity to water courses. It supports farmers to ensure the essential water they use does not damage the reef.

“The major Queensland Sugarcane growing regions are closely located to the Great Barrier Reef,” explains Andrew.

“At ADAMA we take our stewardship responsibilities seriously and we’re proud to be able to support farmers to use products safely and responsibly by using ReefAware.

“Growers have a responsibility to ensure the water which runs off their land does not contain substances that could damage the reef. This water is regularly tested by authorities for nitrates and chemicals, so a system that prevents any contamination is very useful.

“We’re constantly looking for opportunities to align AgTech developments with our crop protection products to deliver an overall package which adds greater value and user experience for our customers,” says Andrew.

ReefAware geolocates a field, then takes slope, soil, and future weather data plus any proximity to a waterway to cross-check registered ADAMA herbicides and any restrictions on their use.

A traffic light system then shows whether a product can be used without restriction, used with restrictions or not used at all.

ADAMA Australia’s Commercial Manager - Far North and South-East Queensland, Jake Sullivan says: “ReefAware has revolutionised the way farmers approach their herbicide application in Queensland.

“Australian canegrowers want to protect the Great Barrier Reef and ensure they do the right thing environmentally when managing their farming operations. Feedback on ReefAware has been really positive with growers welcoming a simple and effective solution to help tackle an ongoing challenge.”

The app was developed in conjunction with agronomists, growers, and industry partners, adapted from the app ‘WaterAware’ developed by ADAMA in the UK.

Other ADAMA technical teams across the world are now looking at versions of ReefAware to help farmers in their countries benefit from the company’s wide range of crop protection products, while protect sensitive environments from water pollution.

ADAMA Australia’s global partnership with SwarmFarm Robotics also continues to grow since their first collaboration in 2016, bringing affordable field robotics to both the Australian and global agriculture market.

Andrew says he sees robotics playing an important role in the future application of crop protection products, particularly with the ability to adhere to best management practices but also performing other key tasks such as planting, fertiliser applications, harvesting, mowing and crop image capture. 

The Queensland-based agricultural robotics company landed a new levy-funded project back in 2018 in collaboration with ADAMA Australia, Bosch and the University of New South Wales, to develop agricultural robots to measure tree canopy and flower density and deliver a more precise, variable spraying solution for apple flower thinning.

“The project is a great example of using robotics to capture tree density and flower numbers to then determine a variable application rate of a thinning product,” explains Andrew. 

“Capture works best at night and this is where robotics has a great fit because they can work continuously without the issue of employee fatigue.”

In November 2018, the first ever commercial SwarmBot was delivered by SwarmFarm to a turf farm in Queensland. Talking about the partnership, Andrew Bate, Co-Founder and CEO of SwarmFarm says: “ADAMA Australia partnered with SwarmFarm right from our inception, and together we’ve built a long-standing relationship which we’re now taking to the next level. We thrive on having access to ADAMA’s in-depth industry and crop protection knowledge to enable us to develop tools to put in the hands of farmers both in Australia, and across the globe.”

Meanwhile, ADAMA Australia is continuing to make strides with its Trapview automated pest detection service.

The system works by capturing images and providing digital recognition of pests in any given number of traps. Pest populations and their dynamics can be monitored on desktop and mobile devices in real-time, with the system providing analytics and rapid pest alerts via 3G connectivity.

Photographs are captured daily and are then archived using a cloud-based system, allowing users to be aware of the pest situation in the field.

“We’re excited to be developing national predictive networks focusing on four key pests and crop types, including; Green Mirid in cotton, Heliothis in pulses, Codling Moth in apples, and Diamond Back Moth in leafy veg,” says Andrew.

“The predictive networks will provide agronomists and growers with timely information on pest activity within their region, allowing greater understanding of pest activity and timing of insecticides for control.

“Subscribers will not only receive pest information within their region but also state based pest pressure for the network they subscribe to, saving agronomists time when monitoring crops for insect activity.”

For further information on ADAMA Australia’s AgTech solutions, visit www.adama.com or contact your local representative.
The ReefAware App.
SwarmFarm’s SwarmBot in action.
A Trapview Funnel Trap Unit in a Cotton crop in NSW.