IT WAS as brutal as the TV show when Shark Tank’s Steve Baxter sat at the panel for the Pitch in the Paddock at the Australian Cotton Conference, with the Australian investor showing no mercy to the lineup of entrepreneurs.
Alongside Mr Baxter were Allen Haroutonian, X-lab, Fleur Anderson, Cotton Australia, and Liz Alexander, Cotton Research and Development Corporation.
Here’s a short rundown on each of the presenters, in order of appearance.
Pitching the Farm Service Manager application was Walgett farmer David Ricardo, who launched his Android and Apple phone application.
Mr Ricardo’s application gives operations the ability to track maintenance of farm machinery – doing away with the need for physical log books.
He said multiple people from the same organisation can access the maintenance history for vehicles, and the application also sends reminders.
Next up was Anatasia Folkova, FluroSat, an aeronautical engineer launching a startup company focused on providing drone and satellite imagery to farmers.
Ms Folkova said during the trial period for the technology they were able to diagnose and quantify Nitrogen levels in a crop using basic drone imagery.
She said the predictive system can tell a farmer about N deficiencies and water deficiencies.
Familiar face Andrew Bate, Swarm Farm Robotics, Gindie, was up next speaking about robots and their practical use in farming.
Mr Bate spoke about the challenge of finding and retaining good staff on-farm, and how robots can help farmers retain staff by giving them tasks other than sitting on a tractor all day doing something the robot can easily handle on its own.
He said the business is set to start delivering internationally in two years, and recently landed a $4 million contract within the apple industry.
Speaking from Agronomeye was Stu Adam, who spoke about closing the gap between drone imagery, data, and practical applications on-farm.
Mr Adam said Agronomeye aims to close the gap between the data and using it on-farm, and said the drone itself is only a vehicle to capture that information.
He said they are ‘building the bridge’ with UNSW creating custom maps with applications, and gave examples of using imagery to calculate early season plant populations, accurate boll counts and yield estimates.
ON a note far different to the farming application pitches was Zoltan Csaki from Citizen Wolf – a Sydney-based clothing company.
Mr Csaki, a self-taught fashion designer, is tackling mass clothing production by making custom fitted t-shirts for customers using an automated process to tailor them.
He said one third of clothes made every year go straight to landfill and is never sold. One third of all clothes are worn only once before they end up in landfill, and Australians buy 27kg of clothing per year and landfill 23kg annually - twice the global average.
Citizen Wolf had to build their own factory to create the product in Australia.
Launching Zero Harm Farm was Mark Orr.
Zero Harm Farm is an online application used as a paperless compliance management tool – giving businesses of all sizes the opportunity to use the application to induct new people coming on-farm, and keep OHS training up-to-date for all employees – without having to write anything down.
Zero Harm Farm currently has more than 4000 users and is being used by companies such as Fonterra and Waikato Milking Systems.
It is free to try.
James Moloney from AreaCrop was up next, launching a start-up which focuses on using readily-available imagery to estimate soil moisture levels.
He said anyone can download the application, draw on a farm boundary, and receive maps of your estimated soil moisture to be used when making farm management decisions.
Zak Iqbal from online marketplace STOCR was next to take to the stage and introduce the panel and crowd to the application.
Mr Iqbal said the marketplace allows farmers to compare brands and products and suppliers online before purchasing any products.
STOCR works as a bid system – where a farmer can request quotes from a range of suppliers, and pick the most cost-effective option for their farm.
Talking cotton trash was Tonia Bastyan from Chalk, who is part of a group attempting to sold textile waste.
Ms Bastyan said Chalk hopes to use waste from all parts of the cotton supply chain and collect them, before matching them with another industry which could repurpose them for a new use.
She said Chalk’s mission is to make the crop “circular from farm to supply chain”.
Last to take the stage was Georgie Pilcher, speaking for Megan Gomez who is launching Rural Health Connect.
The social enterprise connects people from all over Australian with psychologists over the web, and is built on a platform which supports low internet speeds.
Rural Health Connect is connected through Medicare, and anyone can access the service and be eligible for Medicare rebates. It works as a portal where people from all over Australia, regardless of their rural location, can go online, choose a signed-up psychologist, and make an appointment to speak to them over the internet from the comfort of their own home.
It will be live in four weeks.
See photos from the cotton conference here.