As the world population continues to grow and the cost of food production increases, Australia’s burgeoning AgTech sector is set to change the face of farming.
Many considered the Australian AgTech business a fantasy, but it has quickly become a reality. Agribusinesses adopting AgTech were once limited; now, Ag Tech is the new frontier of farming.
Australia is a longstanding hub for innovation in agriculture and food technology (agtech and foodtech) and is recognised as an emerging global leader in Agriculture. The sector has now turned its attention to the next big trends in the industry, including a greater focus on precision agriculture, the internet of things (IoT), sustainable farming and big data to drive greater business efficiencies.
Farmers have embraced the opportunity to diversify their farming practices and are more eager to join in on delivering innovative technology-enabled products and services that are transforming the landscape of Queensland agribusiness. The products are varied, and each year they are becoming more creative. An innovative mindset and desire for change put agribusinesses in good stead for the consistently evolving environments that farmers face these days, and a Tablelands farm is joining in.
A Melbourne company, Bio-Gene Technology Limited, uses eucalyptus oil produced in the Atherton Tablelands to develop a natural insecticide for the lucrative export market. Bio-Gene Technology Limited has been working with a few growers to establish the agronomic and production practices needed to grow the trees and extract the oil. The Company has also engaged with James Cook University to research engineering processes to improve extraction techniques.
Bio-Gene has recently entered into an agreement with Evergreen Garden Care (formerly Scotts International) to develop natural insecticide products for Europe, the UK, New Zealand and Australia. This is big news for farmers because Evergreen is the leading garden care company in Europe and Australasia and has a brand portfolio, including Scotts, Osmocote, Miracle-Gro, Substral, and Fertilgene branded products. The European market for consumer insecticide products alone is estimated at $US2 billion per annum.
Bio-Gene has developed two insecticide products, Qcide® and Flavocide®, to target a range of insect pests in both consumer and agricultural markets.
Bio-Gene CEO, Richard Jagger, said Qcide was derived from a natural oil product containing tasmanone as the main active constituent.
He said the eucalyptus oil was extracted from leaves of a chemotype of Gympie Messmate (Eucalyptus cloeziana), which is now being grown by farmers at a plantation in the Atherton Tablelands.
What is crucial here is this new insecticide technology is based on chemistry with a novel mode of action that seeks to address the global problems of insecticide resistance and toxicity.
“The oil extraction process is via steam distillation using facilities similar to those used for tea tree oil production.
“The oil from the leaves is distilled as a natural product for formulation and control of a range of insect pests.”
Bio-Gene’s novel platform technology is based on a naturally occurring chemical called beta-triketones. Bio-Gene is an Australian agtech company enabling the next generation of novel insecticides.