FAQs – On-Farm IoT Trial

Farmers using digital agriculture tools.

This page answers common questions about the On-Farm IoT Trial. See also FAQs – Data collection and storage.

About the trial

What is the On-Farm IoT Trial?

The On-Farm IoT Trial is a Victorian Government initiative to support farms to be digitally enabled to improve the productivity, competitiveness and sustainability of Victoria's agriculture sector.

Through the On-Farm IoT Trial, Agriculture Victoria will partner with up to 600 farms across four regions and farm types to trial on-farm IoT technology and evaluate the impact that these technologies can have on farm performance.

The On-Farm IoT Trial will support on-farm adoption of the IoT by addressing barriers to uptake, including:

  • Lack of connectivity – Agriculture Victoria is partnering with NNNCo to deliver IoT network connectivity to each of the four trial regions.
  • Digital literacy – Industry Technology Coordinators with expertise in farm management and digital technology will support farmers participating in the On-Farm IoT Trial, including selecting IoT solutions to test that are suitable for their on-farm needs.
  • Capital to invest in on-farm IoT technologies – Agriculture Victoria will contribute to the cost of purchasing IoT apps and devices for farmers taking part in the trial.

How will the trial work?

Agriculture Victoria is partnering with NNNCo to establish IoT network coverage across each of the four trial regions. This network will be available for farmers to connect to.

Agriculture Victoria is establishing a Catalogue of Apps & Devices. Participating farmers will be able to select technologies from this catalogue with a financial contribution from Agriculture Victoria.

An Industry Technology Coordinator has been appointed to each trial region. The coordinators will recruit farmers to participate in the trial and provide specialised support for farmers to select technology to trial.

Agriculture Victoria will evaluate the impact that the selected technologies have on farm performance.

Which regions and farm types are included in the trial?

There are four regions with a corresponding farm type included in the trial:

  • Maffra (dairy cattle farms)
  • Tatura (horticulture farms)
  • Serpentine (sheep farms)
  • Birchip (broadacre cropping)

The Maffra, Tatura, Birchip and Serpentine trial regions are determined by the geographical range of IoT network connectivity for the trial (see “Network connectivity and the trial regions”)

Why were these industries chosen?

Dairy, sheep, horticulture and cropping were selected as four important representative industries for Victoria’s agricultural sector. Selection of these industries will allow a broad range of IoT technologies to be tested across a diverse cross section of Victorian farms and across different topographical and climatic areas.

Trial learnings about the performance of IoT technologies on farms within the four industries will be used to inform an additional future Victorian Government program to further support the uptake of digital technologies across Victoria’s broader agriculture sector.

What is the timeline for the trial?

The On-Farm IoT Trial will take place over a two-year period. Grant funding for the trial will be delivered in funding rounds.

The first funding round is a pilot round, during which Agriculture Victoria will seek to enrol 100 farms (25 farms from each trial region). Expressions of interest for funding round one were open from 5 July to 2 August 2019 and are now closed.

In subsequent rounds, the On-Farm IoT Trial will be expanded to include up to a further 500 farms.

Outcomes of the pilot round will be used to inform the design of the expanded trial and subsequent funding rounds.

Once available, dates for future funding rounds will be advertised on the Agriculture Victoria website.

Applicant eligibility

Who can take part in the On-Farm IoT Trial?

To be eligible to participate in the trial, farms must:

  • be a commercial farm that is either a:
    • dairy cattle farm in the Maffra trial region
    • horticulture farm in the Tatura trial region
    • broadacre cropping farm in the Birchip trial region or
    • sheep farm in the Serpentine trial region
  • be a business with an Australian Business Number (ABN)
  • be a legal entity
  • meet all industrial relations obligations as an employer in accordance with the National Employment Standards
  • have a broadband internet connection (for example, 4G network, NBN, ADSL)
  • agree to participate in future evaluation activities.

To be considered a commercial farm business, farm turnover must exceed $50,000 per annum under normal business conditions (a year in which average yields or productivity is achieved and with no adverse climatic conditions such as drought).

Sheep farms must be either a mixed enterprise with at least 100 head of sheep, or a specialised sheep (meat or wool) producer.

In addition to meeting the above criteria, farmers wishing to participate in the On-Farm IoT Trial must agree to:

  • complete a Farm IoT Plan for their business, with support from an Industry Technology Coordinator
  • select at least one IoT solution to trial on their farm for at least two (2) years
  • contribute to the cost of the Apps & Devices to be trialled
  • share data generated by the Apps & Devices with the department during the On-Farm IoT Trial
  • enter into a Grant Agreement with the department
  • participate as an On-Farm IoT Trial case study, or in On-Farm IoT Trial demonstration events.

Full information about who can participate in the On-Farm IoT Trial and the process for applying for a grant can be found in the Applicant Guidelines.

Who is not eligible to take part in the trial?

The following entities are not eligible to participate in the On-Farm IoT Trial:

  • off-farm food processors, packing or cold storage facilities
  • Commonwealth, state or local government agencies or bodies
  • publicly funded research institutions
  • industry associations
  • not-for-profit organisations
  • community-based organisations.

Are packhouses eligible?

Off-farm packing facilities are not an eligible entity.

Are schools eligible?

Only commercial farms that meet the criteria listed above (see “Who can take part in the On-Farm IoT Trial?”) and that are not listed as an ineligible entity (see “Who is not eligible to take part in the trial?”) are eligible to take part in the trial.

Anyone interested in taking part in the On-Farm IoT Trial should read the Applicant Guidelines to determine their eligibility before applying.

Can new farms that are not trading yet apply?

Only commercial farms that meet the criteria listed above (see “Who can take part in the On-Farm IoT Trial?”) and that are not listed as an ineligible entity (see “Who is not eligible to take part in the trial?”) are eligible to take part in the trial.

Anyone interested in taking part in the On-Farm IoT Trial should read the Applicant Guidelines to determine their eligibility before applying.

How to apply

What is the application process?

Applications are currently closed.

Applications to the trial will only be accepted during an open funding round. Open and close dates for each funding round will be advertised on the Agriculture Victoria website.

If you would like to be notified when the next funding round of the trial is open, please sign up for email updates at the bottom of this page.

Applications to round one follow a two-stage process:

  1. An Expression of Interest (EOI) stage to determine farm business eligibility to participate in the trial. This stage is now closed.
  2. An Application for Funding stage, to select suitable IoT apps and devices to test on farm and apply for a grant to contribute to the costs of selected apps and devices.

The application process for round one is as follows:

  1. Read the Applicant Guidelines carefully to establish your eligibility
  2. Complete an online EOI form and submit it before the EOI close date
  3. Your EOI will be assessed and, if successful, you will be contacted by an Agriculture Victoria Industry Technology Coordinator
  4. Develop your Farm IoT Plan with the support of an Industry Technology Coordinator
  5. If invited by the department, submit your online Application for Funding, including the Farm IoT Plan, to apply for funding to trial IoT solutions on your farm
  6. Your Application for Funding will be assessed and, if successful, you will be required to execute a Grant Agreement with the department and be enrolled in the On-Farm IoT Trial as a Participating Farmer.

When can I submit an EOI?

Expressions of interest for round one of the trial are now closed.

A call for further EOIs will be announced prior to each funding round for the trial.

EOIs will only be accepted by the department during an open EOI round. Open and close dates for EOI submissions will be advertised on the Agriculture Victoria webpage.

If you would like to be notified when EOIs are open, please sign up for email updates.

I haven’t attended a trial workshop. Can I still apply to take part in the trial?

Yes. If you meet the eligibility criteria set out in the Applicant Guidelines, you can submit an EOI to take part in the trial.

Agriculture Victoria will run workshops in each of the trial regions so that farmers can learn more about the On-Farm IoT Trial and the potential benefits of IoT on-farm.

Farmers interested in taking part in the trial are encouraged to attend a workshop, but you do not have to attend to be eligible for the trial.

I haven’t completed an EOI. Can I still apply for a grant?

No. You must complete the EOI process and be invited by Agriculture Victoria to apply for a grant.

My EOI has been successful. Does this mean I will be awarded a grant?

A successful outcome of the EOI process and an invitation to submit an Application for Funding does not guarantee a successful outcome of an Application for Funding.

Grants

How much is the grant worth?

For round one of funding, a maximum grant amount of $30,000 (excluding GST) will be awarded per eligible application.

The grant amount awarded will depend on the total cost of the apps and devices you have selected to purchase in your Farm IoT Plan.

You will be required to make a minimum co-contribution of $1 for every $2 grant money awarded, based on the cost of apps and devices excluding GST.

When can I apply for a grant?

Farmers who have submitted an eligible EOI for round one of the trial will be invited by the department to apply for a grant (see “How to apply”). If invited, you will be advised of the close date for applications and will be required to complete and submit your Application for Funding before the close date.

Dates for funding rounds, once available, will also be published on the Agriculture Victoria website.

Can I take part in more than one grant funding round?

Only one grant will be awarded per eligible farm business under the trial.

A farm business that has been awarded a grant during one funding round will not be eligible to apply for funding under subsequent rounds. However, the department may, at its sole and absolute discretion, consider eligibility of applicants to more than one funding round on a case-by-case basis.

If you own more than one eligible farm business, you may be eligible to apply for more than one grant under the trial.

I have more than one farm. Can I apply for more than one grant?

If you have more than one eligible farm business, you may be able to apply for more than one grant.

To meet the objective of establishing up to 600 IoT-enabled farms under the trial, applicants conducting farm businesses under multiple ABNs, and who can demonstrate that each farm is being conducted as a separate farm business, are eligible to apply for funding.

Applicant eligibility to receive more than one grant in these circumstances will be considered by the department on a case-by-case basis and the department’s decision will be final.

What is the maximum value of apps and devices I can order?

There is no limit to the total cost of apps and devices you can order from the catalogue, but the maximum grant amount for the funding round will still apply.

It will be up to you to meet the additional costs, in addition to the minimum co-contribution.

The apps and devices you select must be deemed suitable by the department for your on-farm needs and identified in your Farm IoT Plan.

When will I be paid my grant?

Payment of the grant will occur once you have purchased and installed your IoT apps and devices and submitted the required documentation to the department.

Required documentation will be listed in your Grant Agreement. You will be required to enter into a Grant Agreement with the department to receive a grant and to enrol in the On-Farm IoT Trial as a Participating Farmer.

How long do I have to purchase my apps and devices?

You must purchase your apps and devices within three (3) months of the date of your Grant Agreement unless otherwise agreed by the department.

IoT technologies and the Catalogue of Apps & Devices

How was the technology for the Catalogue of Apps & Devices chosen?

A Request for Proposal (RFP) for on-farm IoT apps and devices was released in 2018. The RFP invited agtech suppliers of IoT apps and devices to submit a proposal for their technology to be considered for the On-Farm IoT Trial catalogue.

Agriculture Victoria is currently evaluating these responses to determine the final list of IoT apps and devices contained within the catalogue.

The technology I want to trial is not in the catalogue. Can I trial technology not listed?

You will only be able to apply for funding to contribute to the cost of IoT technologies that are listed in the Catalogue of Apps & Devices.

The department may add or remove catalogue items as the trial progresses but cannot guarantee the addition of specific technologies to the catalogue.

Technologies will not be added to the catalogue during an open funding round.

Will the technology on offer work with my existing equipment?

It depends on what equipment you have. In considering what IoT technologies to select from the catalogue, there will be opportunities for applicants to seek more information from suppliers about the technology that is on offer and its compatibility with technology that is already on-farm.

Network connectivity and the trial regions

How will the trial regions be determined?

The trial regions will be defined by the extent of IoT network coverage. Connectivity is expected to cover the majority of the local government areas of Greater Shepparton, Wellington, Loddon, Buloke, and parts of Moira Shire (Cobram and surrounds).

A Request for Proposal (RFP) for IoT network connectivity was released in 2018. The RFP invited network providers to submit a proposal to deliver IoT network capability to the regions of Maffra, Tatura, Birchip and Serpentine for the two-year trial period.

NNNCo was successful through this process and will partner with Agriculture Victoria as the network provider for the trial. NNNCo is a leading Australian IoT network provider with experience deploying and managing networks to support cities, utilities, logistics and agriculture.

NNNCo will roll out LoRaWAN across the trial regions. LoRaWAN is a long-range network that wirelessly connects devices to the internet. More information will become available as the IoT network is rolled out to the trial regions.

How can I find out if my farm is in a trial region?

Agriculture Victoria considered the location of applicants’ farms during the EOI process to determine the feasibility of establishing IoT network connectivity on farms under the trial.

Agriculture Victoria has contacted EOI applicants for round one to inform them of the outcome of their EOI.

Connectivity is expected to cover the majority of the local government areas of Greater Shepparton, Wellington, Loddon, Buloke, and parts of Moira Shire (Cobram and surrounds).

More information will become available as NNNCo’s IoT network is rolled out to the trial regions.

What if my farm is on the edge or straddles the trial boundary?

Agriculture Victoria will work with NNNCo with the aim to maximise the total network area and number of farm properties covered under the trial.

This may include working with individual farmers who apply to subsequent rounds of the On-Farm IoT Trial, to determine if adequate network connectivity can be established on their property under the trial.

How will the trial affect my current data plan or contract?

NNNCo is delivering LoRaWAN IoT network connectivity to support apps and devices installed on-farm under the On-Farm IoT Trial.

If you already have a data plan or contract with another network carrier, you will need to speak to your carrier about your current arrangements and how these might be affected by the trial.

Support for trial participants

Who will help me interpret the data collected from the devices?

The level and type of decision-making support (data interpretation) offered will depend on the devices you select from the catalogue.

In some instances, suppliers of IoT apps and devices offer data interpretation services to support their products.

The catalogue also offers decision-support software solutions that can be selected alongside IoT devices and tested under the trial.

Will the supplier fix things if the technology doesn’t work?

Suppliers to the Catalogue of Apps & Devices have entered a service level agreement with Agriculture Victoria to provide service support to farmers participating in the trial.

If you purchase apps or devices from a supplier under the trial, you can expect customer support from the supplier in the same way that you would expect support for any purchase of a commercial product.

If technology purchased under the trial is not working, you should contact the supplier of the technology in the first instance for support.

If you are unsatisfied with the level of support that is offered by the supplier, you can contact us at ag.iot@djpr.vic.gov.au for further assistance.

What happens when things don’t work?

If technology purchased under the trial is not working, you should contact the supplier of the technology in the first instance for support.

Before purchasing equipment under the trial, you must ensure that you are familiar with the warranty conditions of purchase, as you would for the purchase of any piece of commercial equipment.

If you are unsatisfied with the level of support that is offered by the supplier, you can contact us at ag.iot@djpr.vic.gov.au for further assistance.

After the On-Farm IoT Trial

What will happen to the apps and devices at the end of the trial?

It will be up to you to decide what you would like to do with the apps or devices at the end of the trial.

Depending on which apps or devices you selected from the catalogue, you may own these outright, or may be leasing or renting them under a subscription plan for the trial period. These conditions will be clear in the Catalogue of Apps & Devices at the point when you select which apps and devices you would like to test under the trial.

In the case of a lease or rental arrangement, you will be required to deal directly with the supplier to negotiate continuing this arrangement beyond the trial period, or to end the arrangement.

Do I have to continue to send my data to Agriculture Victoria after the trial?

No. Agriculture Victoria will not collect data from apps and devices beyond the period of the trial.

What happens to the network connectivity after the trial?

The On-Farm IoT Trial is supporting IoT network connectivity to the trial regions for the two-year period of the trial.

Beyond the trial period, NNNCo will determine what ongoing network coverage it will offer.

The department considered applications to the Connectivity Request for Proposal process with the expectation that connectivity solutions tendered would continue to be viable and supportable beyond the two-year trial period.

Page last updated: 16 Jul 2020