In a first for Australian agriculture, SwarmFarm Robotics has announced its partnership with Westpac Agribusiness to develop robotic technology for farmer use — revolutionising the future of farming across Australia.
The agricultural robotic company, based at Gindie near Emerald in central Queensland, is commercialising robot use in crop production, aiming to improve productivity, lower costs, increase production and reduce environmental impacts.
Farmers Andrew and Jocie Bate began developing the robots after questioning whether it was more effective to have smaller, slower, highly-precise equipment instead of increasingly large, fast equipment — in essence a ‘smarter not bigger’ solution.
Mr Bate said SwarmFarm was not trying to automate agriculture, but was trying to make farming practices more efficient.
‘‘This isn’t a driverless tractor, the robots themselves are only as much use as what they carry on board,’’ he said.
‘‘The future of these robots will be better ways to grow crops and smarter ways to kill weeds.’’
The possibilities appealed to former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, who has a background in agribusiness and engineering and now chairs SwarmFarm’s board.
He said the partnership with Westpac Agribusiness would allow SwarmFarm to achieve its goals of full commercialisation, putting the cost-reducing technology in reach of Australian farmers.
‘‘Andrew and Jocie wanted a partnership at this time as it was considered premature to be enlisting venture-capital support,’’ Mr Newman said.
‘‘The strategic partnership between SwarmFarm and Westpac Agribusiness is a perfect fit, with both being frontrunners in innovation and agriculture.’’
SwarmFarm will commercially launch its SwarmBot 3 into the service industry on Tuesday, March 22 with plans to expand down into NSW and Victoria by late 2016.