Myriota and Goanna Ag partner to monitor water on Aussie Farms
Myriota and Goanna Ag have announced the commercial launch of an Aussie-led IoT solution to monitor water on farms.
Farming and agricultural practices in Australia are starting to become more high-tech these days, integrated with space-based applications and services that allow effective real-time management of livestock, resources and natural events through the Internet of Things (IoT) - gadgets that update satellites with their current status and relay it back to agricultural managers.
Myriota, a leading Australian space-industry business, have announced the release of two innovative water-resource management products through a partnership with Goanna Ag (who design and develop on-farm sensor solutions) to provide farmers with tools that will help them mitigate water-related risks and seize opportunities.
Together the GoRain and GoTank solutions, designed and manufactured in Australia, specialise in low power, low cost, long range monitoring with in-built GPS and IoT connectivity.
From paddock to pocket
Alex Grant, Co-founder & CEO, Myriota sees this as a leap forward from traditional rain gauges and tank meters.
“GoRain and GoTank are able to obtain on-site data from anywhere and deliver that information to the farmer via the Myriota Network; removing the guesswork and providing accurate data about on-farm water levels.” he said.
GoRain sensors can be staked to the ground in the paddock and have a funnel at the top to collect water. The information is recorded to within +/- 2% of accuracy and can presently be transmitted every 10 min during rainfall events. GoTank was specifically designed for the livestock industry, for use on water tanks, to sense height, volume, current movement in realtime and monitor changes over longer periods.
A Myriota module in orbit connects to GoRain/GoTank, picks up the messages they are transmitting (consisting of sensor data) and forwards these to a ground station connected to a secure cloud network that allows the data to be processed and distributed. The information can then be accessed in a timely manner anywhere in the world through Google and iOS app user interfaces.
Future of food, less water and rising costs
Australian farmers have a long history in monitoring water and understanding its impact on production over long droughts (associated with El Niño weather patterns) and periods of increased rainfall due to La Niña. However as the climate becomes less predictable, the ability to monitor and act on real-time information, will become more critical.
A recent report by Morgan Stanley on the “Future of Food” notes that by 2050, the population of the world will grow to 10 billion. The United Nations projects in this case, that the global food supply will need to increase by 50% over current volumes to meet demand.
Agriculture is already Australia’s third largest export industry by earnings and the impacts of drought and the recent bushfires have had flow-on effects. Some Australian Livestock farmers were forced to destock as the price of irrigation and feed went up, in part due to water shortages.
Producers of cotton, rice, almonds, citrus and table grapes along the Murray River were also reported to be negatively affected by the rising prices of water according to a literature review by the Financial Management Association of Australia on the cost of the Australian Bushfires.
Products like Myriota/Goanna Ag’s solution are likely to become more commonly used, not only to minimise risk but to increase potential. A study commissioned by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources posits that “digital agriculture” (increased collection and use of data in decision making) has the potential to increase the gross value of Australian Agricultural production by 25% on 2014-15 levels.
“We’re committed to helping farmers gain a better understanding of the challenges they encounter on a daily basis and increasing results in crop yields,” said Alicia Garden, CEO, Goanna Ag.
“Rainfall is the fundamental driver of agricultural production, and while we can’t make it rain more, GoRain and GoTank will bring confidence to decision making for our hard-working food and fibre producers,” she said.
Myriota CEO and co-founder Dr Alex Grant sees agriculture as a critical use-case for their technology infrastructure.
“By providing the agricultural industry with data about precious on-farm water assets at the click of a button, Myriota and Goanna Ag are supporting the industry to make highly strategic decisions that will ensure the survival of crops and livestock,” Dr Grant said.
Goanna Ag participated as an approved supplier for the first round of the Victorian Government’s AU $12 million-dollar On-Farm Internet of Things (IoT) Trial. Under the trial, grants were available for farmers in horticulture, dairy cattle, sheep and broadacre cropping to invest in IoT technologies matched to their on-farm needs. A second-round closed at the end of February 2021.
Myriota’s journey has been rapid since 2018 when their series A investment of US15 million dollars kicked off a string of high-profile deliveries, including a payload successfully launching into orbit on SpaceQuest’s BRIO CubeSat. Optus announced the following year that they would partner with the innovative company to help solve connectivity issues in regional Australia, planning a constellation of smallsat deliveries into LEO. Last April, Myriota announced their series B close at AU28 million dollars and purchased smallsats, ground stations and spectrum licences from its satellite partner exactEarth, making progress on its plan to connect IoT devices globally, targeting a revisit rate of <10 minutes.
In a matter of weeks, Myriota anticipates extending its network, with the help of local launch services partner RocketLab in New Zealand. The Myriota 7 nanosatellite will be on the 19th Electron launch “They Go Up So Fast” scheduled for lift-off later this month. The company will also supply a functional payload to the SASAT1 Space Services Mission whose intent is to relay observations of South Australia’s weather and environment for a five year period from mid-2022.