HomeConnectivityGovernment funds LoRaWAN network for farmers in Australian state of Victoria

Government funds LoRaWAN network for farmers in Australian state of Victoria

The state government in Victoria, in south-eastern Australia, has agreed to fund rollout of LoRaWAN-based IoT networks for 600 farms and 5,000 square kilometres of farmland in the state.

Its department for agriculture, Agriculture Victoria, has appointed Australian LoRaWAN operator National Narrowband Network Co (NNNCo) to handle deployments, for four ‘On-Farm IoT Trial’ regions, around Maffra, Tatura, Serpentine and Birchip. 

The project will see “thousands of sensors” connected on LoRaWAN. They will provide “real-time” data about crop, livestock, and environmental measurements. The networks could also support other uses in the community, the government said.

The On-Farm IoT Trial is part of the Connecting Victoria initiative, which includes better regional mobile coverage, regional rail connectivity, mobile black spot projects and public Wi-Fi. 

The funding of LoRaWAN networks by a state government is a significant development in the expansion of low-power wide-area (LPWA) networks in Australia, said the LoRa Alliance. The funding seeks to ensure a lack of access to networking isn’t a barrier to farmers participating in the trial, said the government.

The new networks in Victoria will be an extension of NNNCo’s existing footprint in Australia, which includes regional networks built in partnership with Goanna Ag to cover approximately 60 per cent of Australia’s cotton belt. 

Jaclyn Symes, minister for agriculture, said: “We are funding IoT network connectivity in the trial regions to address a lack of connectivity which is often a barrier to farmers realising the potential of IoT and other emerging digital technologies.

“This announcement is an important step forward in supporting Victorian farmers to harness digital technology to improve the productivity, efficiency and sustainability of their businesses.” 

Rob Zagarella, founder and chief executive at NNNCo, commented: “NNNCo’s network and data platform roll-out is a commitment to every farmer in these regions to provide the coverage they need to better manage and run their operations.

“Farmers now have a broad choice of devices and applications from the growing global IoT ecosystem, including irrigation management and control, and real-time monitoring of soil health and rainfall, cattle movement, farm assets, worker safety, and water tank levels so that they can proactively respond to the needs of the farm.

“By providing coverage to every farm with our network and data aggregation platform, we can ensure that farmers have access to this important information every day, at their fingertips.”

Donna Moore, chair of the LoRa Alliance, said: “Providing reliable, secure and low-cost LoRaWAN connectivity to enable IoT solutions will deliver significant productivity and sustainability benefits to farmers and help them to meet the future needs of agriculture.” 

NNNCo signed an agreement with global energy and environment company Enzen Group in July 2019. The $8 million deal is geared towards driving LoRaWAN adoption in Australia “at scale”. The pair said they are in position to help industries to “deliver usable data from infinite applications”, using LoRaWAN connectivity and data management tools.

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