Melbourne start-up LAB3 has deployed an internet of things (IoT) system to enable Australian bioenergy firm AgBioEn to carry out crop-testing trials.
The Microsoft Gold partner helped design a testing system that uses data from farm-based sensors and drones to process crop waste into renewable energy.
Working with La Trobe University and LAB3, AgBioEn is trialling growing different crops under different conditions. It has used IoT sensors and devices to monitor the health and growth of the crops with telemetry and drone data held in an Azure Cloud edge computing platform.
This data is uploaded via LoRaWan networks into an Azure IoT Hub. Stream analytics performs an analysis of the data which is stored in an Azure Data Lake and available for analysis through Azure Cosmos DB.
Data from soil probes will be used to better understand water gains, storage capacity and losses in the root zone in real-time, which will be pivotal in improving water use efficiency in cropping soils.
The project comes as AgBioEn invests $1.2 billion in a fuel manufacturing facility which will become operational from 2023. Once complete, it plans to produce 150 million litres of fuel each year.
“This is one of the most fascinating programs of work we have ever been involved with and promises multiple layers of benefit — all the way from farm to fuel,” said Alain Blanchette, director of data, IoT and artificial intelligence at LAB3.
LAB3 will partner with AgBioEn across all its three business units — Agriculture, Bioenergy and Environment — and will provide AI and analytics across the entire supply chain including farms, renewable energy fuels facility and logistics. This will ultimately integrate IoT data as well as information from operational technology and other systems.
Last year, LAB3 was listed on the AFR’s Fast 100 and Fast Starters list and also won the prize for Australian Growth at Microsoft’s global awards.
The company also appointed former Microsoft strategic partner manager Steve Johns as its head of alliances last year.