Home' Australasian BioTechnology : Vol 27 No 2 Contents Australasian BioTechnology | Volume 27 | Number 2 41
slivers of radio bandwidth (kilohertz) and with very little
Those messages are sent to low-orbit nanosatellites
and are then received by land-based satellite stations,
where they are processed using cloud-based software.
Safe Ag Systems (www.safeagsystems.com), which
has technology at its heart, has a firm farming base,
with Co-Founder and Chief Executive Katy Landt from
a fifth-generation grain-producing family in South
Australia's premium Yorke Peninsula region.
A 'near miss' with machinery on the family farm
operated by her brother and father was the catalyst
for creating an online software system to mitigate
farmers' risk when it comes to workplace hazards and
safety compliance. The noble goal is to reduce the
'staggering' workplace death rate in agriculture in
Australia, which employs three per cent of workers,
but suffers 24 per cent of workplace deaths.
'It's a risky environment to work in; stats show that
untrained use of machinery and an ageing population
are the two main contributors (to workplace injury on
farms),' says Landt.
'Developing the program with the insight of five
generations of farming has helped us to build a
product that people are going to use.'
The Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource
Economics and Sciences (ABARES) estimates that only
one per cent of farmers have safe work systems in
place, despite legal obligations being in place for the
sector in Australia since 2012.
The company researched well-established safe work
systems in the mining and construction sectors,
but nothing complemented the varied practices of
farming, often done by people working alone.
'A farmer could move from chemical use to working
at heights within a couple of hours. Average safe work
methods just don't fit. You'd be forever stopping and
starting to fill out the paperwork,' says Landt.
Safe Ag Systems' SAECF grant of almost $500,000
will allow the company to further develop and market
a work health and safety system without the technical
jargon, which doubles as a daily work tool.
The current program provides custom inductions,
policies and emergency response plans, easily viewed
and activated at the touch of a button. Farm owners
can equip themselves and their workers with safety
instructions specific to a machine, task or tool, and to
perform an inspection out on the farm.
SafeAg Systems is now using a variety of channels,
including grower groups, government bodies and
advocates on the ground, to raise awareness of the
technology within farming communities.
'With client numbers increasing daily, the grant
will give us the ability to support, as well as further
develop, the program to include productivity gains,'
'Global food demand is forecast to increase 70
per cent by 2050; we need to think differently and
embrace technology to improve productivity. Our key
goal is to position Safe Ag Systems as the industry
leader in safety culture change within agriculture by
giving the community the tools it needs to get there,'
TechInSA Industry Development Director Dr Judy
Halliday says Myriota and Safe Ag Systems are prime
examples of the breadth of innovation and people
breaking into the agribusiness sector.
The agency, which launched the SAECF grants in
November 2016, will assist with funds and expertise
to develop these high-tech companies, where private
sector funds are scarce.
'This early-stage, high-risk stuff is very difficult for the
private sector to fund. I think that's not just in South
Australia -- I think it's everywhere,' says Dr Halliday.
'This program is unique to South Australia, and it is part
of a longer-term strategy to develop a whole generation
of new businesses in a variety of industry sectors.
'Businesses that are high tech, and that can use new
technology to develop high-value, high-tech jobs,
are very important in driving economic development.
We're talking about businesses that are 50--200 people
eventually. They're the sorts of businesses that are
powerhouses and contribute to the economy broadly.'
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