Unlocking the potential of autonomous agriculture at AgriFutures evokeAG. 2023 - evokeAG.

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Unlocking the potential of autonomous agriculture at AgriFutures evokeAG. 2023

Andrew Bate has been sowing the seeds of the future of farming for the past decade, as Co-Founder of agritech company, SwarmFarm Robotics that’s now leading the world in the development of on-farm robotics. The AgriFutures evokeAG. Startup Program success story and Central Queensland grain farmer will lead a panel of experts exploring the future of autonomous agriculture at evokeAG. 2023.

SwarmFarm Andrew Bate, Co-Founder and CEO of SwarmFarm Robotics pitching at the evokeAG. Investor Dinner 2020.

Grain farmer Andrew Bate is living proof that you reap what you sow.

After more than two decades growing wheat, sorghum, chickpea and mungbeans in Central Queensland, Andrew is recognised as a leading farmer within Australian agriculture.

The trained agronomist is also at the forefront of a global movement towards autonomous agriculture, having spent the past 10 years developing and refining a fleet of innovative, independent robots capable of transforming farming as we know it.

Building an agritech solution

Andrew is the CEO and Co-Founder of SwarmFarm, one of the world’s first companies to develop and deliver commercial agricultural robots to farmers. Known as SwarmBots, the compact, nimble, autonomous platforms are allowing farmers to implement new farming techniques and methods previously not considered possible or practical.

RELATED: Queensland mango grower Ben Martin uses robots to power the next stage of growth

To date, the company has delivered 40 robots to farms across Australia and commercially farmed more than 1.1 million acres.

SwarmFarm Swarmbot

“The reason for starting SwarmFarm was really to bring new farming practices and new ways of growing crops into agriculture,” said Andrew.

“So much of agriculture is based on an answer in a can. For every problem we find, we’re looking for a chemical to spray on our crops to fix it. But what about farming practices beyond chemicals? How can we start growing better crops with new technology?

“We started thinking about how do we kill weeds without chemicals? How can we go in and modify plants in crop? Can we prune excess tillers or thin crops to better match soil and seasonal outlook?

“These farming techniques and the technology we need to do this sort of thing, only really exists in the realms of robotics.”

RELATED:  Australian agritech has ‘arrived on world stage’

Showcasing the future of farming

While the compact size and autonomous operation of the SwarmBots are currently transforming the process of precision weeding, spraying and mowing, Andrew believes this is just the beginning for on-farm robotic technology.

He will share his vision for the industry at the AgriFutures evokeAG. 2023 Down to Earth event in Adelaide on 21-22 February 2023, as one of four speakers taking part in a panel session exploring the current state and future directions of autonomous agriculture.

RELATED: evokeAG. 2023 Program released

“Australia has the runs on the board for autonomy and ag robotics now, and the industry’s starting to grow. Australia is actually a world leader in the adoption of this technology already,” said Andrew.

“But what’s going to come next? What’s the future like? It’ll be interesting to explore some of those topics during the panel session.”

RELATED: The digital transformation of our food system

Creating connections through evokeAG.

This won’t be Andrew’s first experience of evokeAG., though, having benefitted significantly from taking part in the evokeAG. Startup Program, which boasts three pivotal opportunities for successful applicants, including Startup Alley, Startup Showcase and the Investor Pitch Dinner.

The evokeAG. Startup Program is designed to connect agrifood startups and scaleups with the entire ecosystem of farmers, innovators, researchers, corporates, government and investors. The program gives founders a platform to share their stories, and to showcase their products providing solutions to global agrifood tech challenges.

RELATED: The Victorian agritech company doing big things with small data

The evokeAG. Investor Pitch Dinner selects five investment-ready agrifood startups from Australia or New Zealand – who have previously raised capital in funding rounds and have strong traction in the market – to pitch to a room full of domestic and international investors.

“evokeAG. was pivotal for us because we really got to connect with investors there, and a lot of investors who had heard about us and spoken to us actually got to see our robots at the event,” explained Andrew.

Andrew and Jocie Bate and Sarah Nolet - Investor Pitch Dinner 2022

Andrew and Jocie Bate, Co-Founders of SwarmFarm with Sarah Nolet, Tenacious Ventures at the 2022 Investor Pitch Dinner at the Grounds of Alexandria.

“As a rural-based agritech company, we got to meet venture capitalists that don’t normally get out into rural Australia to invest, and we were able to make those connections.

RELATED: Tenacious Ventures is raising $70 million fund for global agrifood innovation

“But it’s not just about investment. A lot of the connections we made linked us to overseas markets and other partners that we work with now.

“It’s not a conference where it’s death by PowerPoint, and it isn’t your conventional field day – it’s a unique event that connects agritech to other companies and other opportunities.

“There are very few events where you genuinely get to gather and have the time to build those relationships and partnerships. I think that’s the most exciting aspect.”

RELATED: New crop of Future Young Leaders selected for evokeAG. 2023

  • Applications for the evokeAG. 2023 Startup Program have now closed. Learn more about the evokeAG. 2023 Startup Program here.
  • The evokeAG. 2023 Down to Earth event will take place in Adelaide, South Australia on 21-22 February 2023 at the Adelaide Convention Centre. Bringing together the best and brightest together to talk about how innovation and technology collide, intersect, connect, translate, complement, and challenge our most important assets – our people, our farms, our soil, our water and our Earth. Tickets are now on sale here. View the full two-day program, including all speakers and partners involved in evokeAG. 2023.

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