One important difference between Zetifi and traditional carriers or internet service providers is the ability to use the full range of backhaul connections available when designing farm Wi-Fi solutions.
The availability of the nbn network right across Australia makes it an ideal backhaul choice for many farmers. By combining the nbn connection with Zetifi’s ruggedised long-range Wi-Fi products, farmers can extend the nbn to their sheds, yards and machinery.
One such project has dramatically improved connectivity at Bullarto Downs, a large broadacre cropping farm owned by Warakirri Cropping Group in Hopetoun, Western Victoria. The project has enabled Farm Manager David Drum and his staff to access the nbn Fixed Wireless network for the first time and has transformed voice and data blackspots into connected spaces.
A solar-powered microcell repeater from Zetifi at a neighbouring property captures the fixed wireless connection and sends this to a base station at the farm.
“The connection we had before was very marginal because of the distance from town but with the new nbn-Zetifi system we're able to run Zoom meetings and use Wi-Fi Calling to help our phone calls. It’s been good this year because with COVID we’ve had a lot more meetings via Zoom,” said David.
“We use it for a lot of things. I have regular Teams meetings with my manager and all the data for our monthly reports is in the cloud, so we need to be able to access that. There’s nothing worse than working on those reports and the systems aren’t talking to each other properly.“
As well as these uses of connectivity in the office, it’s the increasing use of software to manage the day-to-day running of the business that is really changing things.
“It’s not until you really think about it that you realise how much we use the internet. We run software that manages our cropping program and spray treatments, online safety software, and our tractors run the MyJohnDeere platform which means I can login and see the same screens as the bloke out in the paddock, and you need good internet to do that,” said David
“Computers are getting faster and becoming more important and sometimes out here you may not have that connectivity on your phone, but with the NBN we've got good high-speed data coming through. Knowing that we’ve got a reliable connection through the Fixed Wireless network and the nbn-Zetifi setup has made a big difference.”
From this initial success, the site is now one of many farms across Australia at which Zetifi utilises the powerful backhaul capacity of the nbn™ network to provide true last-mile connectivity to sheds, yards, machinery and paddocks.
As Zetifi CEO Dan Winson explains, these projects extend the benefits of the nbn™ network beyond the farmhouse and offer new possibilities that will improve productivity for agricultural businesses of all sizes.
“When you talk to farmers, you quickly realise that they’re some of the most innovative people you’ll meet so they’re naturally very switched on to technology and what it can offer them,” Mr Winson said.
“These days a lot of that technology requires connectivity so extending Fixed Wireless beyond the farmhouse or office and into the paddock has enormous potential for IoT devices and other agtech solutions.
“There is a rapidly growing market for connected devices that track the movement and weight of livestock with electronic identification and precision agriculture with smart tractors becoming the norm.
“The backhaul capacity of the nbn is absolutely vital for us to deliver these solutions in many locations around Australia.”
This story first appeared on page 12 of 'Connecting Australian Agriculture' - an important joint report from nbn and the National Farmers Federation that was published on 9 November 2021. The report is the starting point for a three-year partnership between these two organisations that aims to lift the digital capability of Australian farmers as a key factor that will help Australian agriculture grow to a $100 billion industry by 2030. It showcases many other on-farm applications of the nbn network to improve productivity in agriculture.