RapidAIM co-founder & CEO Dr Nancy Schellhorn
RapidAIM co-founder & CEO Dr Nancy Schellhorn

How new tech can detect fruit flies in Bundy

Austchilli is the first farm in Bundaberg to undergo a rollout of RapidAIM’s fruit fly pest detection technology.

Visiting the region recently to set up the grid, RapidAIM CEO and co-founder Dr Nancy Schellhorn said the rollout was part of the Hinkler AgTech Initiative led by CQUniversity, enabling growers to test and trial agtech.

She said a grid of 30 was being trialled at the local chilli farm.

“We had great conversations this morning as part of the Hinkler Innovation Series lectures about rolling a grid out across Bundaberg – something that we’ve done in other regions,” she said.

“We have three region’s where we’ve rolled out, probably covered about 200 sqkm in each region and what that allows the community to do is see an area wide view of the pest and you can see where the problem starts.

“For example in winter and really get on top of that before the season really picks up.”

Dr Schellhorn likened the management technology for pest to the Bureau of Meteorology’s technology for weather.

“My background is as a research scientist from the CSIRO for a couple decades, and two years ago my CSIRO colleagues and I, my co-founders, we decided to exit CSIRO and we licenced the technology that we invented while we were at CSIRO,” she said.

“So we were at CSIRO trying to solve a really big problem and that is that pest management is a guessing game.”

With RapidAIM she said they first savings for growers was labour saving, as now they are getting the information in real time with the sensor technology.

With grids in three regions, Dr Schellhorn said she was excited about the prospects of Bundaberg becoming one of the next regions to roll out a grid across the area.

She said the business aspect was a bit of a rollercoaster but it was fulfilling to think they could help producers.

While she was in the region, Dr Schellhorn said she spoke with the Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers and the State Government about how to roll out the grid in Bundaberg more widely.

“I think the great thing about the Hinkler Innovation Centre and the grant, is that with new technology, particular technology we’ve never had before it grows the opportunity to test and trial without a big outlay for cash for something that’s unknown,” Dr Schellhorn said.

“I think that’s going to be instrumental as we grow innovation in Australia, when there’s an education component, when there’s something knew about it, getting in the hands of users for testing and trial.”

For more information about RapidAIM click here.

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