AgTech Ideas For Aussie Farming Incubator Programs

AGDRAFT AgTech is revolutionising the way Aussie farmers run their business.

Our next home-grown ideas boom.

By Andrea Beattie  Small Business Writer, HuffPost Australia

September 26, 2016

Australia is on the cusp of an agricultural technology innovation boom, with entrepreneurs urged to submit startup ideas to reinvigorate and boost our $60 billion agriculture industry.

Financial advisory and accounting services provider Findex and the National Farmers’ Federation last week announced the launch of a pre-accelerator program as part of a joint initiative called SproutX designed to collate startup ideas to nurture and commercialise the best ideas in food, fibre and agribusiness.

The $10 million accelerator fund, supported by Artesian Venture Partners, will invest in the best AgTech ideas, and is backed by $1 million in initial funding from the Victorian Government as well as industry leaders including Findex and Ruralco.

The pre-accelerator will accept 100 applicants from across the country who will be equipped with basic business skills and lean startup principles, as well as access to mentors and a strong support network.

SPROUTX General Manager of SproutX Sam Trethewey says Australia’s biggest natural advantage lies in agriculture.

“Australia’s biggest natural advantage lies in agriculture, not fintech, and we need to invest to ensure that we lead the way in developing and commercialising innovations in agtech,” General Manager of SproutX Sam Trethewey said.

“The innovation boom has had a strong focus on fintech, but movements like that are not where Australia’s natural competitive advantage lies.

“We’re still in our infancy, but it’s important to get behind the AgTech industry now and stimulate its growth. We need to connect innovators, investors and the agri-community to help bring ideas to fruition, and this pre-accelerator lays the groundwork for that.”

At the end of the six-week pre-accelerator program, graduates will receive $1000 cash and $10,000 in services to help them pursue their venture. Those that show promise will also be invited to join the full six-month accelerator program when it launches in 2017.

Budding entrepreneurs can apply to be part of the SproutX program on theirwebsite.

StartUpAus CEO Alex McCauley, with Content and Community Manager, Alex Gruszka, said technology has always played an important role in increasing Australia’s agricultural output.

Report outlines AgTech potential

A StartUpAus report called Powering Growth: Realising the Potential of AgTech for Australia threw the spotlight on AgTech naming it a critical component of the Farmers Federation goal to develop a $100 billion agricultural industry by 2030.

The report, co-authored by KPMG Australia, and supported by the Queensland Government and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), notes that the agricultural sector is already the largest employer in rural and regional communities, generates 4 per cent of Australia’s total employment, provides 93 per cent of the nation’s domestic food supply, and contributes approximately 13 per cent ($42 billion) of Australia’s export revenue.

StartUpAus CEO Alex McCauley said technology has always played an important role in increasing Australia’s agricultural output.

“We have an extremely valuable opportunity here to develop technologies that make a real difference to the economy’s bottom line, while also helping rural Australia realise the economic benefits of the digital technology revolution,” he said.

“If Australia is to realise its ambition to be the food bowl for a rapidly-growing middle class in Asia and Africa, we will need to become a leader in AgTech.”

AgTech platforms such as AgDraft are giving farmers access to a skIlled workforce when they need it.

Innovation brings change

Some Australian agricultural producers are already changing the game when it comes to technological innovations.

Since 2011, researchers across the northern parts of rural Australia have beentrialling satellite technology to aid farmers on immensely large properties in tracking their livestock and monitoring the condition of their pastures.

Entrepreneurs such as Ella Shannon are also using tech to make life easier for primary producers.

Shannon, who grew up on a sheep and cattle property in Yass, NSW, designed and launched a tech platform called AgDraft to help increase the utilisation of skilled labour in regional areas as well as make use of more transient, seasonal labour sources.

“We profile and match workers to jobs on skills, job category and time availability,” Shannon said.

“No farm is immune from labour shortages. I wanted to provide a tool and ignite a workforce from outside of the industry including backpackers, grey nomads and uni students.

“We use an Airbnb style reviewing system to build trust and help people connect outside their networks.”

Working on the family farm with her dad Peter has given entrepreneur Ella Shannon a unique insight into the needs of primary producers

Shannon said without a reliable labour force, production is affected.

“Short-term jobs (don’t get) done, or resources are pulled from other part of the business and this is costly in terms of productivity and output.”

She said the site already had 650 registered users in less than a year of operation.

“The industry is at a turning point in digital disruption, we have forged past early adopter and moving into widespread use of technology,” she said.

“These advancements in technology will change the skills and expertise needed in agriculture.”


UN monitoring mission eyes Site C dam impact on Wood Buffalo National Park

A bear climbs down after raiding a raven’s nest atop of power transmission tower in Wood Buffalo National Park in this Sunday May 10, 2015 handout image provide by hunter Linda Powell of O.F. Mossberg and Sons, Inc. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO)

By Bruce Cheadle, The Canadian Press

Sunday, September 25, 2016

OTTAWA — A United Nations monitoring mission to a world heritage site in northern Alberta appears likely to focus more attention on the contested Site C hydroelectric project next door in British Columbia.

Wood Buffalo National Park, a UNESCO world heritage site since 1983, is under review this week at the request of the Mikisew Cree First Nation, who petitioned the world body in 2014 to list the park as being under threat from various developments.

The park is at the convergence of the Peace and Athabaska rivers and is considered the largest freshwater boreal delta on the planet.

Conservationists and local First Nations are concerned about how two existing hydro dams on the Peace River are affecting the hydrology of the park — a problem they say will be compounded by B.C.’s massive Site C dam that’s going ahead on the Peace River.

The World Heritage Centre concluded in 2015 that a review of cumulative effects on Wood Buffalo National Park was warranted, and in the meantime asked that Canada not make any other development decisions that “would be difficult to reverse.”

Nonetheless, the Trudeau government issued federal fisheries permits this summer to allow construction to go ahead on Site C, which will dam an 83-kilometre long reservoir on the Peace River.

The 10-day “reactive monitoring mission” of Wood Buffalo by a committee of international UNESCO experts got underway Sunday, after being postponed earlier in the year due to the wildfires around Fort McMurray, Alta.

The park review opens a new front in the battle over Site C, which is already being challenged in Federal Court by two B.C. First Nations.

The federal permits quietly issued in late July further inflamed the debate, with Perry Bellgarde, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, publicly stating this month that the hydro project is not being handled in keeping with Canada’s constitution nor with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Those concerns about indigenous consultation dovetail with the complaints over the management of Wood Buffalo National Park.

The World Heritage Committee’s decision to go ahead with the review noted “with concern the lack of engagement with indigenous communities in monitoring activities, as well as insufficient consideration of traditional ecological knowledge.”

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna welcomed the UNESCO monitoring mission, which could only come with the invitation of the federal government.

“The government of Canada is committed to preserving our national parks, some of which are recognized World Heritage sites, and doing so in partnership with local communities, Indigenous peoples and other stakeholders,” McKenna said in a statement Friday.

Source: UN monitoring mission eyes Site C dam impact on Wood Buffalo National Park | CTV News

Canada’s annual inflation rate sinks to 10-month low of 1.1%, Statistics Canada Said Friday

September 25, 2016

OTTAWA: Canada’s annual inflation rate in August dipped to a 10-month low of 1.1 per cent, the seventh consecutive month it has remained below the Bank of Canada’s 2.0 per cent target, Statistics Canada said on Friday.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast the annual rate would edge up to 1.4 per cent from 1.3 per cent in July. The August rate was the lowest since the 1.0 per cent recorded in October 2015.

Food prices exerted the main drag on the overall rate, rising by 1.1 per cent in the 12 months to August compared to a 1.6 per cent year-on-year-increase in July. The recreation, education and reading index grew 1.1 per cent in the year to August, down from 1.9 per cent in July.

The annual core inflation rate, which strips out the prices of energy and some foods and is watched closely by the Bank of Canada, dipped to 1.8 per cent from 2.1 per cent.

The central bank, which says inflation is being influenced by temporary factors, is widely expected to keep interest rates steady until 2018.

The value of Canadian retail trade unexpectedly fell in July, dipping by 0.1 per cent from June as gas station sales dropped for the first time in four months, Statistics Canada data indicated on Friday.

Analysts in a Reuters poll had predicted sales would increase by 0.1 per cent. Statscan revised June’s data to show no change from May after initially saying sales had fallen by 0.1 per cent.

Sales decreased in five of 11 subsectors while in volume terms, sales grew by 0.3 per cent. Gas station sales fell by 3.0 per cent, pulled down by weaker pump prices.


Motor vehicle and parts dealers, the largest subsector, posted a 0.2 per cent drop in sales, the fourth decline in five months. Food and beverages stores, the second-largest sub-sector, saw sales edge down by 0.1 per cent.

Sales at furnishing and home furnishing stores decreased by 1.4 per cent, while sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores rose by 1.6 per cent.

Meanwhile, Canadian stocks halted a four-day rally as energy producers tumbled with crude, while inflation data that boosted the likelihood of added stimulus sent financial shares lower and an unexpected drop in retail sales weighed on consumer shares.

The S&P/TSX Composite Index fell 0.7 per cent to 14,697.93 in Toronto, paring the best weekly advance since April to 1.7 per cent. The benchmark for Canadian equity has surged 4.5 per cent in the third quarter, pushing its gain this year to 13 per cent.

Nine of the 11 sectors declined Friday, with raw-materials and energy producers losing more than 1 per cent. Oil and gas companies retreated as New York crude slumped as much as 4.1 per cent to trade at around $44 a barrel.

Financial-service firms fell 0.5 per cent on Friday. Only six of the 26 members in the group advanced. Combined the firms make up about one-third of the S&P/TSX. Bank of Nova Scotia fell 0.9 per cent after closing at a record.

Canada’s core inflation rate was the slowest in two years in August, with the pace of consumer prices and overall inflation decelerating. The data spurred bets the economy may need added monetary stimulus. That hit financial shares that would see profits crimped by lower interest rates.

Shares of consumer staples stocks fell after data showed retail sales unexpectedly fell in July. Maple Leaf Foods slumped 1.8 per cent and Loblaw Cos. slid 1 per cent to pace declines.

Raw-materials producers slipped 1.4 per cent. Barrick Gold Corporation and Goldcorp dropped more than 1.2 per cent. Silver Wheaton Corporation slumped 2.3 per cent and First Quantum Minerals fell 1.2 per cent.

Source: | Canada’s annual inflation rate sinks to 10-month low of 1.1%

Major Nova Scotia rivers dry enough to ‘walk across without getting your feet wet’

Cook’s Brook is normally an important spawning ground for salmon and trout (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

‘If things don’t turn around quickly, it’s going to have a lasting impact on the sport’

By Stephanie vanKampen

September 24, 2016

Nova Scotia’s severe drought has claimed another victim — the province’s recreational sport fishery is virtually non-existent, as rivers have dried up.

The head of the Nova Scotia Federation of Anglers and Hunters, Ian Avery, says the province’s 70,000 recreational fishers have nowhere to fish.

“When you go to any of the major rivers, you can literally walk across these rivers without getting your feet wet, whereas, normally you would be in knee-deep water,” said Avery.

1 in 100-year event

Avery said the drought could have a lasting impact on the brook trout and salmon fishery if rivers don’t get replenished soon.

“As the water levels drop, the temperature rises, of course, and that means a lack of oxygen for fish,” said Avery. “It’s been an anomaly this year to the point where it’s a one in 100-year event. This has never happened in Nova Scotia in quite a long time.”

Avery says the recreational sport fishery represents a $76-100 million industry in the province.

He says fishing clubs have a contingency plan to restock the rivers with small fish once water levels rise. But, he admits, that could take a while.

“If we don’t get the rain, the fish won’t be able to travel to their spawning grounds, which means less fish next year and the year after,” said Avery.

“It will have a detrimental effect on future fishing.”

On the LaHave River near Bridgewater, N.S., an area that is classified class 4-5 rapids in the spring, is now a trickle.


Carroll Randall, a registered fishing guide, says what is normally a beautiful paddle on the LaHave River, is now a hike. (Stephanie vanKampen/CBC)

Carroll Randall is a registered fishing guide, but he hasn’t had any customers this summer for trout or salmon due to the drought.

He says it is hurting the fishery, but the real victims are the fish.

“We could lose a whole generation of fish,” says Randall.  “The fish have to spawn, and if they can’t find a place to spawn, then all those eggs are lost, all those baby fish are lost, and it could mean some real trouble down the road.”

Rock piles

Rivers across the province are being described as “rock piles,” with historically low water levels, according to some guides.

Randall said the federal fisheries officers who have been monitoring fish numbers in the LaHave River have reported shockingly low numbers.

Randall said just 33 fish have passed through a fish way near Morgan’s Falls. In the past, hundreds have travelled the route.

He said even recent rains haven’t put a dent in the problem. Rivers need at least 200 millimetres of rain in order to save the fish.

Source: Major N.S. rivers dry enough to ‘walk across without getting your feet wet’