Australian start-up Hone aims to have its first devices for on-farm grain analysis ready for sale by start of the grain harvest this year. The team is currently developing the device’s sampling software via machine learning.
According to agribusiness GrainCorp, that acquired a 15% share in Hone late last year, the development team is using the ‘gold standard’ results from its labs as reference points. “Exited by Hone’s potential, we’re supporting product development and testing through our laboratories in Toowoomba and West Footscray.”
This requires comparison of literally thousands of grain sample results. Every time a sample is run through the Hone device, the algorithms get smarter. Over time, this will enable the device to deliver more and more testing capability beyond grain quality.
According to CEO Anthony Martin of Hone, testing grain moisture content before harvest can be critical. “And with the Hone device this is instant and simple”, he said. “Currently a grower drives in to a receival site and waits for that result to come in. With the Hone device, you get the result right there on the farm and you can get on with harvest. Post-harvest, particularly for people with on-farm storage, this is a great way to know your quality before you deliver grain to a buyer.”
GrainCorp said it has partnered with agtech company Hone to support the development of on-farm grain analysis technology that will change testing methods for growers. The agribusiness said this will add to the company’s high standard quality-testing capabilities. The technology of Hone Ag can be used to analyse grain quality, soil carbon and other agricultural products and inputs.
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GrainCorp’s Chief Innovation and Growth Officer Jesse Scott said GrainCorp is extremely impressed with Hone’s equipment. “It’s as accurate and consistent as anything we’ve seen in the industry, but the big difference is that growers will literally be able to hold it in their hands. For the grains industry, getting your answer on a crop sample can take weeks – with Hone, this process can be brought down to minutes at the touch of a button.”
Mr Scott emphasised that GrainCorp is always looking for ways to advance in this field. “We’re also excited by the potential to use the technology in soil carbon testing and assessing carbon sequestration, which could open up new offset prospects for growers and the industry as a whole.”
The founders of Hone, Dr Antony Martin, Dr William Palmer and Dr Jamie Flynn, launched the business in 2016 after completing their PhD studies at the University of Newcastle. The initial concept for the Hone device was born out of the development of a 3D microscope to image medical samples, before they quickly realised the benefits a highly accurate and portable testing kit could have for the agricultural industry.
CEO Dr Martin said he hopes Hone’s new partnership with GrainCorp will accelerate the adoption of the technology by grain growers across the eastern seaboard. “The technology empowers producers to make real-time, data-based decisions that result in healthier soil and crops, more sustainable farming practices and ultimately a more profitable business.”
“Our vision is for anyone to be able to test what they want, when they want, without the inconvenience of collecting and sending samples away for weeks on end. We certainly hope it will accelerate the uptake of carbon farming for landholders as well.”
Mr Scott said the technology will open up enormous opportunities for GrainCorp as well as for growers. “Quality is in our DNA so we’re always looking for ways to advance in this field, and Hone’s technology is a big step forward for our business and the broader grains industry,” he said.