Candidate: Giana Bastos Gomes
Academic Mentor: Prof Dean Jerry/Dr Kate Hutson
Industry Partner: The Yield
Project title: Bringing the Internet of Things technology to Aquaculture: A Food Agility CRC Collaboration
By 2050 the world will need 60 per cent more food. Food security will be one of the biggest challenges for humanity as the global population nears 9 billion. Aquaculture, as the fastest growing agribusiness in the world (annual production of 73.8 million tonnes and sale value of US$160.2 billion; FAO, 2016), is shaping to be a major supplier of humanity’s future animal protein needs. The Yield is a fast-growing Australian AgTech business with the mission to efficiently increase global food production without compromising the environment by transforming food and farming practices through digital technology. The Yield technology is based on environmental sensors that collect in real time data (e.g. water temperature, rainfall, salinity), analyse and predict on-farm growing conditions for a better management of aquaculture and agriculture farms. By using The Yield technology farmers can make faster and more accurate decisions that impact production and reduce risks.
Integrating The Yield technology into aquaculture systems can help revolutionise current food production practices and guarantee the sustainable growth of the seafood industry. This project aimed to assess the potential extension of the current real-time environmental sensing and predictive analytics used for oyster harvesting to the global aquaculture industry. The intern expertise about aquaculture systems and aquatic animal health ensured that The Yield’s aquaculture roadmap was in alignment with industry animal welfare and commercial imperatives. In addition, this internship offered significant support for the Food Agility CRC oyster industry transformation project which aims to enhance the approach to harvest management planning and mitigation of disease risk within the oyster industry from NSW. JCU is partner of the Food Agility CRC.
This internship offered me a great opportunity to gain a deeper knowledge of the Australian oyster aquaculture industry, understand its challenges, how it is regulated and to network with stakeholders involved in the sector. However, my main interest during this internship was on the business side of the company and how could I integrated my years of research and field experience into The Yield roadmap and help the company to expand its capacity within the aquaculture sector. The success of any industry, including aquaculture, requires more professionals trained in how to integrate specific technical skills (e.g. aquatic animal health, aquaculture systems and research) with the most advanced technologies and businesses aiming to optimised production without depleting our natural environment. During the internship I learned how an AgTech business functions, what are the day-to-day activities involved in a business, what challenges an AgTech business experience and how the company plans its future activities, investments, projects and products. The weekly meetings which involved the entire company were always an opportunity to learn more the business perspective about strategic planning, sales, revenue and to celebrate achievements. The transparency and engagement among staff was something I really admired. The managing director Ros Harvey was always teaching business concepts to everyone from data scientists to marketing staff. When staff understand systems, protocols and decisions within the company it is easier to get staff motivated and clearly see the important role that each one has in the company. Staff develop a sense of participation and belonging which is extremely important for the company success. The Yield was very generous by including me in their activities as if I were part of their team. I had the opportunity to develop project and business management skills by working directly with Felicity Turner (general manager- customer experience) and Brett Pringle (project manager). I applied my aquaculture/aquatic animal health research expertise to help the team to better understand the aquaculture industry, understand its challenges and technological needs. By transferring this knowledge to The Yield team I was able to assist the business to make more educated decisions on current and future projects related to aquaculture. During the 5 months of the internship I have learned so much about the complexity involved in running a business, how important team work, clear communication and staff engagement are for the success of any project. And even though I have these three last points as part of my career values I have observed along the years that these important points are easily forgotten within the competitive and in times self-contained world of academia.