LoRaWAN rolling out for farmers

Tuesday, 20 June, 2017

LoRaWAN rolling out for farmers

A rural Internet of Things network powered by LoRaWAN will bring hi-tech solutions to Australian farmers.

A new joint venture between Discovery Ag and the National Narrowband Network Co (NNNCo) was announced last week at Australian Farm Institute’s Harvesting the Benefits of Digital Agriculture conference in Melbourne.

The venture involves the formation of a new company, Connected Country, to build and operate a nationwide Rural IoT Network to bring hi-tech agriculture solutions to Australian farmers.

The Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN) will provide the backbone infrastructure for secure, standards-based shared networks of low-cost wireless sensors that continually report on essential farm metrics such as soil moisture, rainfall, crop health, water levels and livestock data.

The network will be immediately rolled out across one million acres in NSW, encompassing dry land crops, horticulture, livestock and a number of rural towns. Within 18 months, the joint venture partners intend to extend across vast areas of the nation’s farming regions.

“While hi-tech farming techniques are in use today, significant areas of Australia’s farming footprint lack adequate network coverage,” said Discovery Ag CEO Alicia Garden.

“For those that do have coverage, existing connectivity networks can make it too expensive for farmers to network their sensors and create a truly connected ‘smart farm’.”

“The Rural IoT Network is an extension of the NNN that we’re building nationwide and will help to solve connectivity and affordability problems for farmers,” said NNNCo founder and CEO Rob Zagarella.

“Together with Discovery Ag we will be providing low-cost, end-to-end, standards-based solutions comprising on-farm networks, network-ready sensors and access to simple on-farm tools that farmers can use to monitor information and take timely action.”

Connected Country has already started working with key partners including Cisco and the NSW Department of Primary Industries to fast-track the network rollout.

While different technologies exist to fulfil Low Power Wide Area (LPWA) requirements, LoRaWAN technology was chosen by Discovery Ag and NNNCo to deliver the Rural IoT Network.

“LoRaWAN’s capabilities are extremely well suited to agricultural requirements. The technology is already used in farms across in Europe and the USA and has proven to be low cost and effective,” said Zagarella.

“LoRaWAN-enabled sensors are available at a relatively low cost and a LoRaWAN on-farm gateway can cover large areas and connect to thousands of sensors at an affordable cost.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Michael Garner

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