Technology software extraordinaire Fiona Turner didn't start out her entrepreneurial journey expecting to be in the agriculture space.
The face and brains behind Bitwise Agronomy said they often describe themselves as "a software company that happens to service the agriculture industry".
Bitwise Agronomy was launched about a year ago and has since gone from strength to strength - it has about 30 international clients across 40-50 farm sites around the world.
The company uses artificial intelligence software that can be used on a GoPro to collect data at scale about crops.
And most of the research and development, along with trial sites for the technology, happened in Tasmania.
"Tasmania for us really was the best place to conduct these kinds of trials, while we were getting up and running," Ms Turner said.
"We have farms really close together and some of the best growing conditions, and there's a lot of motivated farmers out there who want to be involved in technology."
For a start-up that's only had a bit over 12 months on the ground, Bitwise Agronomy has a lot of silverware in the cabinet and that collection is only growing.
The company recently took out three awards at last month's Launceston Chamber of Commerce Awards - taking out the categories of Excellence in Agribusiness, Excellence in Innovation and Technology and Excellence in a Start-Up.
Ms Turner, who is the chief executive, was also named the second runner-up for Innovator of the Year and the company won the AI in Agribusiness award at the Women in AI Awards in Sydney.
She said she was excited her team was recognised in the Launceston Chamber of Commerce Awards.
"We have a really dedicated staff, and it's exciting that we've been able to share these awards with the team," she said.
"People are passionate about food waste and we're excited that we can help reduce that with our data."
HOW BITWISE GREW FROM A SEED
Ms Turner said Bitwise Agronomy started as a way for her to navigate the challenges she faced personally as a new vigneron.
"We'd never owned a vineyard before, so I would go out and notice things on the vines," she said.
"Like there was one time that I noticed we had some canopy issues, that it wasn't quite uniform ... I found out later that it meant I needed to water it more on the top than the bottom.
"But if we'd had access to the agronomy data that we provide we would have noticed it sooner," she said.
It started as a way to help Ms Turner understand her own vines at Jinglers Creek Vineyard, but she soon realised she was on to a winning formula.
We knew we were going to be a global leader in this space, we saw it as a game-changer ... but we didn't expect it to be this fastBitwise Agronomy chief executive Fiona Turner
FROM TASSIE TO THE WORLD STAGE
Bitwise Agronomy may have launched in Tasmania, but it's always had an international audience in mind, Ms Turner said.
"We knew that we'd be a leader on the global stage, so we set out creating the company with an international audience in mind."
However she said she never anticipated just how big the business would grow in its first 12 months.
"We knew we were going to be a global leader in this space, we saw it as a game-changer ... but we didn't expect it to be this fast."
She said the take-up from farmers had been fantastic.
THE POINT OF DIFFERENCE
Bitwise Agronomy offers similar data collection offered by in-person agronomists, with a technological twist.
It uses data collected on a GoPro to allow farmers and commercial operators to input data at scale - and in return it provides real-time, up-to-date information on crop and soil health and other information.
"What we're finding is the farmers are really appreciating the secondary information - they might get an overall look at their crops, but they will also find pockets where the crops might not be doing well," Ms Turner said.
She said it allowed for spot testing or treatment, rather than the traditional method of treating a whole paddock for a few plants.
"It's also available data at scale, which you can have immediately. Sometimes you can call for the agronomist but it takes time, and often you can't get large-scale data," Ms Turner said.
- Bitwise Agronomy has a stall in the Tasmanian Institute of Agriculture tent at Agfest, but for more information go to www.bitwiseag.com
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