Tasmanian startup receives a boost through Bosch’s first global agricultural technology investment
In 2016, Tasmanian agricultural technology startup, The Yield, received A$2.5 million from one of Europe’s largest conglomerates, the Bosch Group on top of a seed investment of A$500,000 in 2015. The investment was Bosch’s first global agricultural technology investment and enabled The Yield to create 15 new highly skilled jobs.
Founded in 2014, The Yield measures and predicts real-time weather data at the farm, field and even plant level. It then converts this into crop-specific knowledge that growers care about, such as when to plant, irrigate, feed, protect and harvest their crops. The Yield apps are designed with growers to solve on-farm challenges. This helps increase farm productivity, increase shelf life of produce and track food safety, with flow-on benefits for the environment.
Bosch Oceania regional president Gavin Smith believes The Yield is a leader in developing customer-focused solutions that bring the power of the internet of things to agriculture. ‘The Yield's innovative managed solutions could be the next big thing to lift Australia's agricultural productivity, combining big data analytics with grassroots farming know-how. We will work with The Yield to scale their technology globally.’
The Yield founder and managing director Ros Harvey says the partnership with Bosch is to develop their microclimate sensing system which provides the data that underpins their solutions. ‘The new app takes the guesswork out of farming. It’s an exact science. And the whole objective is to get high yields. It’s an irrigation app, but it’s so much more than that. Getting the water content right at the harvesting time is critical for shelf life. You’re never going to replace farmers. What we do is give them the technology to make their job easier. We can save the industry millions by knowing the exact time to harvest so we can extend shelf life.’
Several Tasmanian farmers are benefitting from the Yield’s technology. Director of Houston’s Farm, Anthony Houston, says that 25 years ago they didn’t have the technology available now. ‘To work out how much water I had to put on the crop, I got a drum and a tape measure, and I measured the evaporation that came off during the day. And that way I could estimate the volume to put on for the crop,’ he says.
Houston Farm’s, Liam Houston, says the company loses about 200 tonnes of lettuce to water-related issues. ‘We believe, that with The Yield, we can reduce that by 30 per cent, saving the company hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.’
Barilla Bay Oysters can reduce unnecessary harvest closure by 30 per cent using The Yield’s technology rather than current techniques, improving productivity and food safety. Its General Manager, Justin Goc says weather can have a fairly significant impact on oysters. ‘They’re filter feeders. The rain can actually cause our bays to be closed. What we need is information that helps us to make decisions regarding opening and closing, and that’s where the Yield fits into that mould.’
Ros Harvey believes investment from a globally recognised brand like Bosch will be a big help to accelerate development and get The Yield’s products into the hands of growers around the world. ‘We know big data analytics can help improve productivity throughout the entire food value chain. The benefits can extend to growers, wholesalers and retailers and government food regulators.’