An Australian software platform to help farmers manage the compliance requirements of running a modern agribusiness will be commercially trialled in the United Kingdom this month.
The Safe Ag Systems software launched in 2017 to help small farmers manage in an increasingly corporate industry following the harmonisation of occupational health and safety laws in Australia.
Based in Adelaide, South Australia, Safe Ag Systems now has more than 600 customers and 4000 users across Australia and New Zealand.
“We saw a real need to supply a solution to agriculture because the world of agriculture had changed – the compliance associated with it, the paperwork, the management of it needed to be run like a big business rather than a small family farm,” Safe Ag Systems co-founder and chief executive Katy Landt said.
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“There’s a lot of pressure on holding ground as a small farmer, changing your mindset about how you run your business is the first step.
“We started with the mum and dad farms and then we found we had corporate farms coming to us because we had approached the problem with a focus on agriculture.”
The Software-as-a-Service model uses a cloud-based platform that can be set up on a desktop computer and is also accessible through a mobile app.
The farms can then create a set of policies and inductions, store employee and training records and compliance certifications. It also has reporting tools that filter down to provide all the information needed by the worker on the ground through the mobile app, which supplies them with safety information, task management, communication and an emergency alert ability. QR codes attached to individual pieces of machinery can store maintenance records, pre-operational and safety checks that can be accessed and updated in real time through the mobile app.
Landt, who is from a five-generation farming family on the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia, said the software was also being used by insurance companies to set or reduce premiums based on the level of use and good safety practices.
“We started in broadacre (grain) and moved into livestock and we’ve had a great uptake in large stations and also in horticulture,” she said.
“The corporate clients that we’re getting are struggling with education and training of their workers so when they see the features and functionality of the software now they go ‘win, win, win’ because all those things make up a safety system but they are also seeing the value it brings without having an incident.
“The worker has the app in their hand and they can easily capture the information for the person in the office or the auditor to be able to reference the information and give you the tick you need to be accredited.”
“An obligation to go global”
Heal Farms will become the first UK business to use the software when it begins a commercial trial of the Safe Ag Systems platform later this month.
The Shropshire-based farm specialises in eggs, potatoes and grain and will feed performance data back to Safe Ag Systems throughout the trial.
“Australia has an amazing reputation when it comes to food quality and there is a real responsibility that we have to maintain that because it sets us apart from a lot of other countries,” Landt said.
“If we can find a solution to help keep that level of quality – and the paperwork associated with it – simple and easy for the agribusiness in Australia then we have a tool that can go out to the rest of the globe that we know is going to work.
“Our company mission is to remove the paperwork associated with compliance for agribusiness globally without compromising the productivity and the quality assurance of this industry that feeds and clothes us. We need to really keep the bar high without burdening these guys with a massive amount of paperwork.”
Safe Ag Systems secured a $500,000 grant through the South Australian Government’s Early Commercialisation Fund late last year. The funding has allowed it to increase staff numbers from 11 to 18 as it prepares to ramp up development and increase functionality covering additional regulatory needs.
Landt said while the initial focus would be expanding its customer base further within Australia and New Zealand, the long-term goal was global.
“The target has always been to remove the compliance paperwork from one million agribusinesses globally,” she said.
“We have one death on average per week in Australian agriculture.
“We started in the safety space but realised agriculture has a huge amount of compliance requirements, we are in a perfect position to become a full compliance platform for agriculture globally, an increase in safe behaviour is the by-product of this. Change is already occurring here, so we have an obligation to go global.”
This article was originally published on The Lead South Australia.