Very little is likely to generate as much as angst as a slow internet connection and frequent mobile drop outs. For Australia’s farmers this is a key issue they face because they typically live beyond the range of mobile phone towers or fibre optic networks. One group of farmers in Western Australia has decided not to wait for the telecoms companies to deliver on their promise and intend to deploy technology themselves.
Farming has changed
The leader of the group says farming has changed a lot thanks to technology, however lack of connectivity is a bottleneck. They say plenty of promises have been made but few if any have been delivered and as result, they intend to try and assume a little control of their destiny. The group has struck a deal with a company who will connect them to the fixed line network. The work is being funded in part by a grant from the government of Western Australia and will seek to connect 50 properties within a 100 KM radius.
Once the farms are connected to the network, 4G technology will be used to create small networks that will enable the farmers to collect and process data obtained from sensors, cameras and machinery like tractors. This is the first project to become operational of its kind in Australia. Farmers involved in the pilot say this could not have come soon enough. They say there is so much technology that improves productivity that the whole community is crying out for connectivity.
What the community is doing is adapting technology that is already highly developed in cities, and making it more useful for rural areas where there are fewer people requiring a different solution. The new technology is based on AI, can recognise individual animals and their condition in real time. If the connectivity is there, Australian farmers will quickly adopt new tools that would enhance their productivity.
Farmers have always been early adopters of technology and the agricultural sector in Australia perhaps does not have the same level of support from the Government in other countries. This means it is important for the government to provide basic infrastructure and the government is responding. The WA government says it will fund agricultural connectivity projects including this 4G network.