Digital Agriculture, Built from the Ground Up
A Qantas pilot and a Matty Johns showrunner walk into the Royal Trangie Hotel in Western NSW and start buying farmers ice cold schooners. Is this the start of a Wake in Fright sequel? No, this is the story of Tim Howell and Stu Adam, a pair of lads from Warringah who are on a mission to digitise agriculture with their start-up business, Agronomeye.
What does Agronomeye do? “We create high-res 3D models of farmland then predict the flow of water across the landscape to help farmers make more informed decisions.” And that first day of direct marketing, “Sitting in Trangie pub, buying beers for local farmers, picking their brains, we still work with many of them!” It was a $509 bar tab that’s proven priceless.
Considering Tim and Stu have never farmed in their lives and love living by the ocean, the idea these two are transforming the agriculture sector is especially intriguing, but tap into their thought processes a little, observe how they react to situations to see opportunities, you realise these two are Natural Born Innovators. “Our original business was flying drones as a part of sports broadcasting before moving into capturing high-res imagery for cotton farmers to show them where their crops were underperforming. Then the drought set in and crippled the sector. The idea of shifting focus to water came from seeing how there are few things more important to a farmer than being able to best manage that precious resource.”
With this focus on water, the technology and product Tim and Stu provide has become truly mind blowing. “We fly planes or drones over farms to create high res replicas of farmland and then analyse that data to identify where the water is likely to move. We add in satellite and historical data to provide context to what’s happening on the ground then deliver it through an online app. We deliver highly technical data in a simple way. Farmers can pick it up and use the info to optimally manage their properties from the outset.”
How has Covid affected them? “With our business being fully digital, we can operate from anywhere in the world. We mapped a farm in North Dakota, demonstrated the findings to a group of growers in the USA while we were sitting in Freshwater.”
As with every start-up, commitment is critical, and Agronomeye’s success has been many years in the making. Their advice to aspiring innovators, “Stay in the fight and be motivated to do something that you truly believe in.”