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Western Australia holds hackathon to seek new digital solutions for agricultural sector

Western Australia holds hackathon to seek new digital solutions for agricultural sector

An agriculture hackathon (AgHack) was held
in Perth to seek new digital solutions to drive growth and keep the state’s
agricultural sector globally competitive. Attended by innovative Western Australian
ICT experts, AgHack 2018 was held at Spacecubed in Perth CBD, from 27 to 29
July 2018.

Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah
MacTiernan highlighted how developing and adopting new technology is essential
to keeping WA’s agricultural sector internationally competitive.

According to the announcement
made by the Government
of Western Australia
, the AgHack event was sponsored by the Department of Primary
Industries and Regional Development
(DPIRD), in partnership with the
Office of
Digital Government
and not-for-profit organisation Ministry of Data
(MoD).

Innovation and ICT Minister Dave Kelly said
that the McGowan Government has once again partnered with the MoD to
collaborate with WA innovators and start-ups using open data to solve
real-world problems in one of the state’s most valuable sectors.

In order for the participants to create
concepts and prototypes that will improve productivity and overcome obstacles
to growth, they were given access to the application programming interfaces for
weather and radar of the DPIRD. They were also informed of the new APIs for
soils, science, organism and Pestfax Map.

Minister Kelly explained that events like
this bring together the best and brightest minds in the tech community to
develop their ideas into potentially commercially attractive propositions and
create WA jobs in the digital economy.

Minister MacTiernan explained how the
government needs to engage the best and the brightest minds in agriculture, and
AgHack was a fantastic way to develop digital solutions to agricultural issues
while making agriculture cool again.

Eight challenges were endorsed by the MoD for their relevance and value to the
industry. They are:

(1)   
How might we better grade and
sort grain on the farm before the point of delivery to maximise the return of
farmers?

(2)   
How might we better track and
provide feedback to lamb producers and processors to maximise price and customer
satisfaction of meat?

(3)   
How might we better monitor the
condition, health and usage of WA’s remote rangelands?

(4)   
How might we better link ewes
and lambs on the farm to prevent them being stressed when separated, and
connect breeding and productivity data to make better breeding decisions?

(5)   
How might we better detect
pests through photographic evidence to improve WA’s biosecurity?

(6)   
How might we better track grain
from individual farm properties through the supply chain to improve food safety
and protect access to markets?

(7)   
How might we better choose the
best cropping mix to optimise long-term land sustainability with seasonal
economic return?

(8)   
How might we better collect and
collate farming data from different sources in different formats to enable
better decisions and precision agriculture?

The concept developed by Dex, which dealt
with better pest identification, won. Other concepts that were created during
the event were using of data to improve grain grading at the farm-gate and a
digital mapping tool that would measure carbon offsets.

The agriculture hackathon provided an
opportunity to stimulate technological innovation in order to solve real-life
problems. Moreover, the participants of the event got the chance to generate a
potentially new commercial digital product.

The concepts that they have developed can
be adapted for on-farm use in applications for mobile devices, monitoring and
surveillance devices, decision making aid or other digital tools.

Minister MacTiernan shared how the support
of this event is part of the McGowan Government's commitment to create an
environment that supports new ideas, technology and business models that build
opportunities to generate growth and jobs.