Australian company Farmbot Monitoring Solutions helps farmers to manage their water system. Its precision technology can save farmers money and time.
The company has recently launched its next generation of remote water monitoring technology enabling it to integrate with surrounding devices of other agtech. “The common thing we hear from farmers is that we give them peace of mind”, says managing director Andrew Coppin of Farmbot. “Because they spend a lot of time worrying over water.”
Australian agtech company Farmbot started five years ago and is the brainchild of current COO Craig Hendricks. He was working in Sydney and wanted to monitor his olives, truffles and cattle in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales. Hendricks created a system of sensors and a device to make those sensors communicate to him in his office.
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The Farmbot technology makes it possible to connect to 20 different devices. One of the key devices the company offers, is for rainfall. - Photo: Farmbot
Managing Director Andrew Coppin met Mr Hendricks at an accelerator programme and decided to invest in it. “And here we are five years later”, Mr Coppin says. “With a rapidly growing internet of things device. Our primary focus has so far mainly been in the livestock industry, where water management is a big deal.”
Farmbot now delivers technology to arable farmers
Farmbot is now also delivering its technology to arable farmers and farmers in horticulture. “We have recently been doing work in cotton”, Mr Coppin explains. “Where we have been monitoring cotton rows in trenches for water levels. We have also installed our device in the inside of grain silo’s to monitor the volume of grain and help with supply chain management. We can pick up moisture and contamination within the grain silo in real time.”
The Farmbot technology makes it possible to connect to 20 different devices. “One of the key devices we offer, is for rainfall. Of all of our customers 53% has a rain gauge attached. An increasing number of customers is measuring pressure and flow within their water system. We see that farmers also often include pump activation as well, so they don’t have to go out to do this.”
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Managing director Andrew Coppin of Farmbot: "We're telling farmers things about their water systems that they have never expected to know." - Photo: René Groeneveld
Farmbot has recently launched its next generation of remote water monitoring technology enabling it to integrate with surrounding devices of other agtech, to also monitor soil moisture, machine control and geotags for farm management for example. Most of its technology is connected to satellites.
The savings are enormous, both for the farmers and for society. We‘re selling 200 to 300 units a month. It’s resonating with farmers
Mr Coppin says that the importance and details of water management can be easily underestimated. “Maybe it’s because it comes from the sky or the ground”, he says. “We wondered, if we started to look at the granularity of water, what would we learn? Now, with more than 2000 devices in the paddock, we learned a lot about water ecosystems. We‘re telling farmers things about their water systems that they have never expected to know.”
Worrying over water
The obvious information, that Farmbot delivers, are leaks in the water system. “When a pipe bursts or a tank splits”, explains Mr Coppin. “But less obvious information is the draw time on bores for example. People put a bore down and don’t check it again for twenty years. But it might be that during four hours in a day, it’s just sucking air. You‘ve got the wear and tear on pumps, the additional carbon footprint and you‘re not efficiently using your time.”
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Farmbot can also come up with trends of a water system over time. “It gives farmers peace of mind. We now have farmers that are checking 50 waterpoints over a cup of tea. And they now can tell the bore man exactly where he needs to go, not where they think he should go.”
200 to 300 units a month
Mr Coppin emphasises that on any given day there’s approximately 10.000 people driving around checking rural water in Australia. “It’s thousand of kilometres driven and ten thousands of litres water lost. The savings are enormous, both for the farmers and for society. We‘re selling 200 to 300 units a month. It’s resonating with farmers.”
So far Farmbot has focused on Australia. Next year the technology will be commercially released in North America. “We are already in trials in North America, Uruguay, Brazil and South Africa. We are looking to present our technology in countries where there are many water management challenges.”
The Farmbot core device costs 1190 Australian dollar plus there is an annual software subscription to use the Farmbot platform. This platform gives farmers all the intelligence involved and sends them trends, alerts and insights.
20,000 to 30,000 dollars per year saved
“Farmers will get a year on year comparison”, says Mr Coppin. “We have had farmers sending us their financial analysis, saying that our technology saved them 20,000 to 30,000 dollars per year. The business cases are very strong and we‘ve got some great advocates.”