TECHNOLOGY adoption in the Western Australian farming sector has been given a $500,000 kick along.
In a major boost, 13 growers groups and agricultural colleges will receive funding through the State Government's Internet of Things (IoT) DecisionAg grant.
A total of $582,833 has been provided to eight grower groups and five secondary education institutions from across the agricultural regions to explore a range of agtech opportunities and challenges.
The grants will assist recipients to trial connectivity solutions and internet-based technology, including IoT apps and devices and systems to collate, store and analyse generated data.
The outcomes from the IoT program will be shared broadly so other WA agribusinesses and the regional community can benefit from lessons learned.
Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan said it was an exciting initiative that would help WA agribusinesses remain at the forefront of advancements in digital technology in a rapidly changing market.
"It complements a range of other McGowan government programs driving new technology innovations in WA, including the Digital Farm Grants program aimed at delivering high-quality, reliable broadband services to agricultural enterprises and regional communities," Ms MacTiernan said.
"The IoT program will encourage and accelerate new approaches to digital connectivity, agtech apps and devices and data analytics.
"Agtech is an essential component of modern business and the McGowan government is committed to ensuring our regions are well-equipped with the right infrastructure and support to optimise its potential and give WA agribusinesses a competitive edge."
One of the recipients of funding under the scheme is the Stirlings to Coast Farmers grower group, which will receive two lots of $45,000 to put to separate projects.
Stirlings to Coast Farmers group chief executive Christine Kershaw said the group had also received matching grants from the National Landcare Program Phase 2, so it will take the total grant money to $180,000.
"We will be using the funding to set up smart farms," Ms Kershaw said.
"One will be at west Kendenup and the other at Woogenellup and it will be a big deal.
"We have set up our own data network and these farms will be hooked up to that and we are really keen to explore the bigger picture of technology in farming.
"The grants really help, otherwise we would have to fund it with our own cash, which we don't have a lot of given we are a grower group."
Ms Kershaw said they would be looking at connecting the data network on the farms first.
"We will then put the weather stations on there and from there start building different technologies onto these farms," she said.
"We are planning to kick off on June 1, when the towers will go up and we will aim to hook the data network up in early June and the two smart farms will be the first ones in the area connected to this network.
"We will start rolling out the weather stations and so on from there.
"The main thing is to set up digital monitoring stations on the farms that won't just monitor weather but also livestock and cropping sytems to start analysing data and aggregating that across farms.
"A lot of it is focused on data anaylsis for real time decision making in the paddock."