Founders to Field Tour to attract AgTech specialists to Moree

BY Georgie poole, new south wales-BASED MEDIA STRINGER

 
farmSimple's Lee Coleman and Matt Higham with, at centre, IntellectAg's Brooke Sauer, organiser of the Founders to Field Tour.

farmSimple's Lee Coleman and Matt Higham with, at centre, IntellectAg's Brooke Sauer, organiser of the Founders to Field Tour.

With the dawn of a new, digital frontier in agriculture, rural Australia is poised to take advantage of an industry brimming with potential. And it won’t just be producers in the paddock reaping the rewards, but rural communities also. Given the wealth of agricultural expertise within rural Australia, Moree Agtech specialist Brooke Sauer of IntellectAg, believes further collaboration between AgTech start-ups and the community will become a key driver for genuine and meaningful digital adoption and innovation.

 
 
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“There is a chasm between start-ups and the farmer, and as AgTech is still in its infancy there are many products that don’t quite meet farmers’ needs,” Brooke explained.

“This places innovative producers in a very favourable position and signifies an opportunity for the AgTech community to capitalise on its vast knowledge base.”

To help foster opportunity, Brooke has initiated the inaugural Founders to Field Tour, a four-day roadshow across the Moree district, aimed at attracting start up ‘founders’ to the agricultural coalface. 

“This initiative will connect AgTech founders with local farmers and help ensure the products and services being developed align directly with the end user’s needs.”

As an agricultural heartland, Moree is home to some of Australia’s most progressive and innovative producers, and Brooke believed benefits of the tour would be two-fold. 

“This tour will deliver context around the agricultural landscape for developers, whilst providing networking opportunities for commercial partnerships with local farmers and agribusinesses – it’s a win/win and the scope for development locally is an exciting prospect for the whole community.”

“Digital agriculture could increase the gross value of Australian agricultural production by $20.3 billion, but there remains a fundamental need to connect innovators and the agri-community to help bring ideas to reality.”

Brooke believed there was genuine opportunity for the community to help shape the development of AgTech solutions, with the value of facilitating physical relationships and conversations between founders and farmers enormous.

“There is no one better placed to directly offer solutions to the considerable challenges agriculture faces, and provide meaningful feedback and evaluations on some of the newest AgTech developments than right here on the ground in Moree.”

“Putting developers directly in front of farmers and allowing them to see agricultural operations first hand will be extremely valuable, not only to developers but to the growers who ultimately need a product that meets their expectation.

The tour will include over forty founders on a schedule that includes broadacre, livestock, irrigation and research institute farm tours, as well as a strong networking component.

The community had an exciting opportunity to hear potential digital solutions directly and help refine products that are currently in the developmental stages during the tour’s Pitch Night at the BAMM last Thursday, September 26. 

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Agribusinesses leaders, technical staff, government and RDC representatives, farmers, agronomists and anyone with a vested interest in agriculture gathered to listen, observe, strategise and connect with founders face to face. 

This event was also an opportunity for the community to explore the scope for commercial partnerships.

“Most applications are developed out of need, and our Moree producers could be the key to mapping out possible needs and solutions,” Brooke believed.

“The pitch night was a great opportunity for farmers to communicate directly how developments can be useful on the ground.” 

“Finding the technology to fit the need has been a challenge, and this pitch night helps steer early stage founders towards the most useful solutions and identify gaps in the market.”

Lee Coleman and Mathew Higham are an example of producers taking matters into their own hands and developing software born out of necessity. From their Croppa Creek, broadacre cropping operation, they have cofounded an app called farmSimple, streamlining onfarm data collection.

“From grain movements to time sheets, and everything in between on a broadacre operation, farmSimple has it managed,” Lee explained.

The product has been on the market for two years, with the parent company, CroppaCo, currently working on back-end development aimed at feeding farm data directly into accounting and agronomic software. 

Brooke also is a case in point, the well-known and highly regarded specialist in applied digital agriculture and precision agriculture, an industry mentor providing honest feedback on ideas to new and existing AgTech founders. One of the only AgTech mentors living in regional NSW, she believed there was genuine scope for communities such as Moree to become innovative hubs. 

 “Generally AgTech developments and start-ups are nurtured in the city, away from the real action, but the most valuable resource lies right here in the community – practical, tried and tested agricultural expertise and experience.”

With thanks to sponsors for making the recent event possible, Moree Plains Shire Council, Intellect Ag, supported by B&W Rural, BAMM, Rural Adversity Mental Health Program, Cicada Innovations and McGregor Gourlay.