Mobile on-farm digital technology for smallholder farmers

For over 10 years the Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) at the University of Sydney has been developing novel mechatronic and software systems for the Australian agriculture industry. The aim is to support farmers with the research, development and commercialisation of digital tools that would help them increase yield and productivity and reduce input costs. In 2015 the ACFR received philanthropic funding to look at designing similar technology for smallholder farmers. The hypothesis is that with an appropriate education and training program coupled with low-cost on-farm mobile platforms and digital tools adapted from more precise technology, a system and methodology could be developed that delivers food and nutrition security and encourages next-generation growers to adopt digital agriculture techniques. These requirements led to the development of the Digital Farmhand. The Digital Farmhand comprises a small mobile platform that can be hand towed, remotely controlled, or set into autonomous mode. On the mobile platform exists a smartphone, sensors, and computing. Collectively the system can undertake precision seeding, spraying and weeding. Through the digital capability of monitoring and analysing individual plants the system has the potential to support better on-farm decision making, helping growers increase yield and productivity, reduce input costs, and maximise nutrition security. The Digital Farmhand has been trialled amongst small farm holders in Australia as well as in Indonesia and will be trialled next year in the Pacific Islands. The objective of these trials is to close in on the requirements that would meet the needs of those communities.

Issue Date:
Aug 08 2017
Publication Type:
Conference Paper/ Presentation
Record Identifier:
Total Pages:

 Record created 2018-01-17, last modified 2018-01-22

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