Australia’s Bartle Frere Bananas and Hitachi Vantara to Showcase IoT-enabled Smart Farming at UN’s COP26


Hort Innovation and Hitachi Vantara, the digital infrastructure, data management and analytics and digital solutions subsidiary of Hitachi, Ltd. today announced that Australia will be represented at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland by Queensland’s award-winning banana farm, Bartle Frere Bananas.

Bartle Frere Bananas’ partnership with Hitachi Vantara in Australia will be featured in Hitachi’s COP26 presentation, ‘Technology and Data Are Key to Save the Environment‘. The Bartle Frere Bananas case study will showcase how artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and sensor technology are being used to inform data-driven horticulture practices for sustainable, environmentally friendly food production.

The humble banana is the number-one selling supermarket product in Australia1, and all fresh bananas sold in Australia are locally grown. The vast majority come from farms in the northeastern state of Queensland, with plantations also in New South Wales, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Bartle Frere Bananas is a recent recipient of the Future Farming Award at the 2021 Australian Banana Industry Congress. Its owner and managing director, Gavin Devaney, is proud of his family farm’s adoption of best management practices and innovative technology solutions. This ensures the bananas Bartle Frere Bananas supplies to small markets and major grocery chains, alike, are grown in an increasingly environmentally friendly manner.

From weather monitoring stations and a supply chain control tower to capture farming operation data such as insights coming from soil moisture and nitrate sensors, to a supply-chain tracking system with tags on banana plants and pallets, Bartle Frere Bananas is achieving a level of data-driven transparency and actionable insight that Gavin insists is critical to sustainable farming.

“We’ve now got the real-time, advanced sensing, leachate monitoring, sediment analysis and data capture in place, which runs through Hitachi’s Lumada Manufacturing Insights to predict and prescribe actionable insights based on data algorithms we have helped design. These insights guide our best management practices around irrigation, fertilization and plant care.” said Gavin. “It is important to know where your food is coming from and how it is grown, and by measuring our farming operations in these ways, we can provide Australians the information they need to be sure they are buying the best of the bunch.”

Powering Good with Deeper, Real-time Insights

Hitachi Vantara’s data-driven offerings for agriculture extend AI and automated insights from growing centers to data centers; from farm to market, delivering deep real-time data-driven insights.

Hitachi’s Lumada Manufacturing Insights and Supply Chain Control Tower:

  • AI Modelling, Predictive Analytics and Prescriptive Insights from the Hitachi Lumada Manufacturing Insights, which is being deployed with considerable success across a range of industrial applications. This enables Bartle Frere Bananas to help predict when its fruit will reach maturity, reduce the number of pesticides that will drift from the intended targets, and determine the ideal amount of water to use. The Devaney family will not only be able to predict problems more effectively, but they’ll be able to proactively respond to anticipated challenges and risks before they occur.
  • Predictive and prescriptive insights are delivered to the farmer via summaries, visualizations and decision support from Hitachi Vantara’s Supply Chain Control Tower – a solution core of Hitachi’s Lumada Manufacturing Insights, and a mobile, hand-held device.
  • This industry solution delivers greater visibility across a customers’ supply chain subsystems and provides the ability to take direct, demand-driven action.

The integrated Smart Farm solution from Hitachi Vantara also involves the following technologies:

  • A combination of RFID and GPS tags, solar powered sensors, and a weather station to capture data.
  • Solar powered edge computing capabilities to process the data where it is captured, based on algorithms designed for the specific needs of the farm.
  • Transmission of the data via cellular connectivity and MQTT protocol directly to Hitachi’s Lumada Manufacturing Insights

The entire solution set is managed by the Hitachi Lumada Manufacturing Insights, which tracks and supports environmental stewardship and smart farming best practices.

“Every organization and industry sector has the potential to deliver data-driven outcomes that can effectively address social and environmental issues,” said Gajen Kandiah, CEO, Hitachi Vantara. “The smart, sustainable farming operation at Bartle Frere Bananas was designed to deliver a better banana that conserves and protects the surrounding environment. It is a fine example of using the power of data and technology to deliver social innovation, for which we advocate, and we are proud to be a part of it.”

Smart Farming for the Environment and the Future

“Bartle Frere Bananas is one of four trial sites that are incorporating the latest technology aimed at improving productivity while reducing costs and minimizing each operation’s environmental footprint. This project will provide detailed examples to the broader horticulture sector about the effectiveness of establishing remote monitoring and data analytics to support horticultures’ environmental performance, overall,” said Hort Innovation Australia’s General Manager of Stakeholder Experience Anthony Kachenko.

This digital smart farm project is the result of an engagement between Bartle Frere Bananas and Hitachi Vantara Australia Pty Limited and is supported by funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program. It is also funded by Hort Innovation, with co-investment from Applied Horticultural Research, the Australian Banana Grower’s Council (AGBC), AusVeg, Freshcare, Greenlife Industry Australia, Growcom, Hitachi Australia Pty Ltd and Hitachi Vantara LLC.

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