Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Victoria trial tests IoT on Australian farms

Steve Rogerson
February 6, 2020

Four regional areas are set to benefit from networks being funded by the Victorian government in Australia as part of its trial to test IoT technology on farms. The networks will cover approximately 600 farms and 5000 square kilometres.
Minister for agriculture Jaclyn Symes announced that Australia’s National Narrowband Network Co (NNNCo) had been successful in its bid to provide IoT network connectivity to Victoria’s on-farm IoT trial regions surrounding Maffra, Tatura, Serpentine and Birchip.
NNNCo will work in partnership with Agriculture Victoria to deliver LoRaWans that will allow for thousands of sensors to be reliably and securely connected and provide users with real-time data on measures to help improve productivity, efficiency and sustainability.
Funding the delivery of IoT network connectivity to each trial region is an important part of the trial to ensure reliable network coverage to participating farmers.
“We are funding IoT network connectivity in the trial regions to address a lack of connectivity which is often a barrier to farmers realising the potential of IoT and other emerging digital technologies,” said Symes. “This announcement is an important step forward in supporting Victorian farmers to harness digital technology to improve the productivity, efficiency and sustainability of their businesses.” 
The network also has the potential to support other uses in the community, so that everyone in these regions can enjoy improved connectivity and the benefits of Victoria’s digital economy.
“NNNCo’s network and N2N-DL data platform roll-out is a commitment to every farmer in these regions to provide the coverage they need to better manage and run their operations,” said NNNCo CEO Rob Zagarella. “Farmers now have a broad choice of devices and applications from the growing global IoT ecosystem, including irrigation management and control, and real-time monitoring of soil health and rainfall, cattle movement, farm assets, worker safety, and water tank levels so that they can proactively respond to the needs of the farm. By providing coverage to every farm with our network and data aggregation platform, we can ensure that farmers have access to this important information every day, at their fingertips.” 
The funding of the LoRaWan by a state government is seen as a significant development in the expansion of LPWANs in Australia.
“LoRaWan has become the de facto standard for IoT in agriculture, as well as smart cities, utilities and other vertical markets globally,” said Donna Moore, CEO of the LoRa Alliance. “This major deployment in Australia is further proof of that. Providing reliable, secure and low-cost LoRaWan connectivity to enable IoT will deliver significant productivity and sustainability benefits to farmers and help them to meet the future needs of agriculture.”
NNNCo is an Australian IoT network provider with experience deploying and managing networks to support cities, utilities, logistics and agriculture.
The networks in Victoria will be an extension of NNNCo’s growing regional and urban coverage which includes regional networks built in partnership with Goanna Ag to cover approximately 60% of Australia’s cotton belt.
The on-farm IoT trial is part of the Connecting Victoria initiative, which includes better regional mobile coverage, regional rail connectivity, mobile black spot projects and public wifi.