McLaren Vale innovator Oli Madgett says farmers must be able to see a 10-fold cost benefit to be enticed to adopt agricultural technology and it must be easy to use.
Early next year he and co-developer Andrew McDonnell will launch Platfarm, their mobile Navman for agriculture, which they are confident will lead to higher yields and more efficient use of chemical and fertiliser.
The McLaren Vale grapegrower, who has a background in developing games for Facebook, and Mr McDonnell, who has significant experience in defence, saw a gap in the market for a low cost paddock management tool.
Platfarm enables growers to lay normalised difference vegetation index imagery collected by drones or other data on a satellite map, used to produce a prescription map, which can be downloaded onto existing tablets and phones.
“At the moment I need to spend a couple of hours tying tape over the block to show the contractors where to stop shoot thinning or which rows to prune ,” Mr Madgett said.
“Platfarm is about enabling the grower or agronomist to create a map which can be downloaded by the operator while they are in the tractor,” he said.
“It doesn’t just have to be data from drones, it might be the grower knows the area from the history of the paddock which they can add to the map to tell them when to start work and stop work based on the most productive parts,” he said.
On his two-hectare block Mr Madgett has saved more than $1000 in mulching and spreading costs in one season but it could be much more in larger blocks.
Platfarm has also been trialled by the Kitschke family, Jamestown, who have used it spread variable rates of fertiliser on a pasture paddock.
A basic version of Platfarm will be free to download from the Apple and Google Play stores and a premium version enabling multiple layers of data will attract a small fee.
“If the basic version is not free it is never going to scale – apps are only useful if the grower, contractor and agronomist all have them,” he said.