Swarm Farm Robotics is the Australian winner of the Future Agro Challenge, a live face-off of Australian visionaries with innovative solutions in food, agtech and agriculture. The Central-Queensland based agtech startup will be travelling to Greece later in the year to represent the nation at the Global Future Agro Challenge.
Swarm Farm Robotics develops robots for farmers using advanced technologies to create new field practices and farming methods that simply aren't possible through traditional farming methods. For farmers, this means increased efficiency, higher yields and a lower impact on the environment.
Founded by Andrew and Jocie Bate, Swarm Farm Robotics was officially launched in 2014. Based in Emerald, they have a long history in farming and are one of few agtech startups to be actually based in an agricultural area.
“Our technology is lightweight and autonomous, with a focus on developing better farming techniques,” says Andrew, the CEO and Managing Director.
“It’s very much technology that’s from the soil up, not from the technology down - we’re solving the problems that farmers are struggling with,” he says.
“For example, in the grain and cotton industry farmers are having a lot of trouble killing herbicide resistant weeds. So our robots can now do that - meaning less herbicides are required, which is better for the environment, better for the soil and better for the farmer’s bottom line.
“We’re also working with apple orchards to develop robots that count the number of flowers on every tree - and we then build a model of that tree and its history, and spray each tree on a tree-by-tree basis to thin the flower population to achieve the optimum number of apples on each tree, increasing both yield and quality.”
Andrew says they’re also working with macadamia nut orchards and the turf industry to develop innovative solutions.
Today Swarm Farm Robotics has a team of 15 people working on their robots.
Going forwards, the primary goal for Swarm Farm Robotics is to start to scale the business for international markets.
“We’re one of the only companies in the world that are actually delivering robots to farmers, right now.
“We’re really proud of what our team has achieved - we’ve developed of all of our own software in house, all of our own robots in house and now we’re taking it to the world.”