New IoT network brings next generation irrigation solutions to cotton industry

Published: December 4th, 2018

Goanna Ag has announced the roll-out of a publicly available LoRaWAN Internet of Things (IoT) network supported by the National Narrowband Network Co (NNNCo), to bring smarter irrigation management solutions to Australian cotton growers.

The network, an extension of NNNCo’s existing network coverage, covers an area of some 3 million hectares, stretching across Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area and the Murrumbidgee, Lachlan, Gwydir MacIntyre, Namoi and Macquarie valleys, and will continue to be expanded throughout 2019.

Goanna Ag recently secured funding from prominent investors including Westpac and Graincorp Operations. The company will use the network to bring low-cost connected sensors and data analytics to growers, combining soil moisture data via installed probes, local weather data and satellite imagery to optimise irrigation scheduling.

Alicia Garden, CEO of Goanna Ag, said “Every day that a cotton crop is under stress can cost a grower over $100 per hectare. We help growers schedule and apply just the right amount of water to use on crops at just the right time so they can optimise their performance and profit.”

“Connectivity has always been an issue for regional and rural areas due to lack of coverage and the relatively high cost of connection,” she added. “LoRaWAN networks have proved ideal for agriculture here and overseas because of the low cost of sending small amounts of essential data using very low power.”

As this cotton season rolls out, Goanna Ag is deploying their first 100 gateways in NSW and Queensland, along with over 2,000 sensors across cotton farms. These sensors include soil moisture probes, rain gauges, weather stations, and water and fuel tank monitors amongst a host of others.

“LoRaWAN is a global open standard technology and there’s a huge growing market of sensors for agriculture”, Ms Garden added. “The idea is not to lock growers in but to help the industry adopt the technology quickly and easily for the benefit of everyone.”

“Any compliant LoRaWAN sensor will be able to connect to the network, with Goanna Ag providing sensors where needed and analytics as part of its GoField and GoSense services.”

NNNCo is an Australian carrier providing a highly secure, enterprise/carrier grade service leveraging LoRaWAN technology. The company is delivering a nationwide network and end-to-end platform to enable solutions for agriculture, business and government.

Rob Zagarella, NNNCo Founder & CEO, said the extension of its network would help to solve connectivity and affordability problems for farmers.

“The network will significantly drive down the cost of connection for data communication and the cost of sensors using this technology. This will make the difference between isolated usage and widespread deployment of the sensors which will in turn provide more granular information and higher value to the industry,” Mr Zagarella said.

“NNNCo has a strong partnership with Goanna Ag and has been working with them on network extension across regional areas for over 12 months,” he said. “We’re very excited to take this partnership further over the coming years as IoT take-up by the agriculture sector grows.”

Ms Garden added, “Two of the biggest predictors of crop yield are soil moisture and rainfall which can vary widely across different parts of a farm. The decisions farmers make about when and where to irrigate can have a huge bearing on their annual production. If we can help them make better decisions across multiple aspects of farm management, the productivity gains will be significant.”

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