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NNNCo deploys IoT network for cotton farmers


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(Image: NNNCo)

Australia’s cotton farmers will be gaining access to Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity, with Australia’s National Narrowband Network Company (NNNCo) to deploy a 3 million-hectare network during 2019.

The publicly available LoRaWAN network, being built in partnership with Goanna Ag, is aimed at enabling IoT-powered irrigation solutions for the cotton industry.

NNNCo will extend its existing LoRaWAN network to cover the area across the Murrumbidgee, Lachlan, Gwydir MacIntyre, Namoi, and Macquarie valleys, and the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, with Goanna Ag funding the network through investment from Westpac and Graincorp Operations.

The network will provide data on soil moisture through the use of sensors including soil probes, rain gauges, local weather data, water and fuel tank monitors, and satellite imagery. This will enable better scheduling of irrigation, according to the companies.

The LoRaWAN network will enable this at a low cost compared to traditional cellular connectivity, Goanna Ag CEO Alicia Garden said.

“Every day that a cotton crop is under stress can cost a grower over AU$100 per hectare. We help growers schedule and apply just the right amount of water to use on crops at just the right time so they can optimise their performance and profit,” Garden said.

The first 100 gateways and 2,000 sensors will be deployed in cotton farms across New South Wales and Queensland this cotton season as part of Goanna Ag’s GoField and GoSense services. The company will also be offering data analytics.

“The network will significantly drive down the cost of connection for data communication and the cost of sensors using this technology,” NNNCo founder and CEO Rob Zagarella said.

“This will make the difference between isolated usage and widespread deployment of the sensors which will in turn provide more granular information and higher value to the industry.”

NNNCo in August also announced that it will be building out an IoT network for the City of Gold Coast covering more than 1,300 square kilometres, with plans to use the connectivity for digital water metering, waste management, and support for parks and fields.

“We’re developing a secure, scalable, commercial-grade IoT network that will enable infinite use cases by businesses, enterprise, and the council,” Gold Coast chief innovation and economy officer Ian Hatton said.

“We chose LoRaWAN technology because it supports large-scale deployments securely, reliably, and cost effectively. NNNCo have been engaged because of their proven ability to build the network and bring commercial solutions that have the potential to significantly add value to Gold Coast residents and businesses.”

NNNCo is similarly building out IoT networks across Newcastle and Lake Macquarie to enable smart city applications such as smart street lighting and water meters.

It has previously worked on IoT trials with Melbourne’s metropolitan water utilities to test coverage, data delivery, and battery life of digital water metering for City West Water, South East Water, and Yarra Valley Water.

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