By Duncan Evans
Central Queensland farmer Cameron Pagden does not lack in ambition.
His company, Caflos Agri Visions, hopes to design and build an autonomous farming platform to integrate and synchronise all farming tasks from one or many devices, locations and equipment brands.
The digitisation and automation of agricultural practices is a common theme threaded through contemporary developments in Agtech. A multitude of companies are engaged in this kind of work and CQ Today has profiled some of these working across the region.
Tom Wyatt’s Span Engineering, for example, featured in the January 21 edition of CQ Today, is working to develop remote controlled systems for irrigation pumps on farms.
Mr Pagden’s vision, however, goes beyond streamlining particular practices.
“Basically, we’re looking to be able to bring on something like Tom’s platform along with another platform and autonomous vehicles and being able to control it all from one thing,” he said in a telephone call with CQ Today.
“He (Mr Wyatt) would be one of the things that we would want to add. If a farmer had that already (remote controlled irrigation pumps) and then they had, say their GPS systems that would upload things to the cloud, everything, basically currently has its own app, so you’ve got to go in and out of all these different apps to have any kind of function on your farm.”
Mr Pagden’s goal is to draw these disparate apps, or innovations, into an overarching system, one that could make the full ecosystem of farming controllable from a single source.
The ultimate aim is fully autonomous farming.
“I own a farm as well and I wish to go fully autonomous. That is my goal. That’s what this is all about. To be able to link different types of Agtech into one spot, is where I’m going.”
The ‘one spot’ would be a sophisticated software platform that could encompass the entire farm and all of its moving parts such as tractors, spray rigs, drones, irrigation and moisture sensors.
Whether this vision can be realised, however, has yet to be seen.
The company is in the ‘ideation phase’ of its start-up journey. Mr Pagden has a grand idea, but it will take some time for the idea to shift into a tangible reality.
At present, the company has an employee base of two people, with a third potentially on the way.
The company does not have a website and Mr Pagden would not reveal specific details of how different strands of Agtech could be integrated into a single broad-based platform to CQ Today.
“Basically, they will all come into a hub. And that hub will be what is the beginning of the platform.”
Two test sites for Mr Pagden’s vision have been earmarked. A farm in Capella, a small town north of Emerald, and Mr Pagden’s own farm near Mackay.
Though the ambition is a grand one, Mr Pagden has been the recipient of some valuable support in his start-up journey which may help him transform his idea into reality.
He has just returned from a subsidised three-day ‘mission’ to the Sunshine Coast, sponsored by the Central Highlands Development Corporation (CHDC), to grow and develop his start-up capabilities.
“I found the mission extremely informative,” he said.
The name Caflos is derived from the first letters of Mr Pagden’s own name and those of his children.
Should Mr Pagden’s vision be realised, his children would grow up into a brave new world of farming.