Hitachi Vantara (Hitachi) > Case Studies > Data-Driven Sustainable Farming: Hitachi’s Lumada and Bartle Frere Bananas

Data-Driven Sustainable Farming: Hitachi’s Lumada and Bartle Frere Bananas

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Technology Category
  • Networks & Connectivity - Cellular
  • Sensors - GPS
Applicable Industries
  • Agriculture
  • Telecommunications
Applicable Functions
  • Product Research & Development
  • Quality Assurance
Use Cases
  • Digital Twin
  • Farm Monitoring & Precision Farming
  • Cloud Planning, Design & Implementation Services
  • System Integration
About The Customer
Bartle Frere Bananas is a mid-sized, multi-generational farm located in Far North Queensland, Australia. The farm supplies both small markets and major grocery chains. Its owner, Gavin Devaney, is a recipient of the Future Farming award for his adoption of best management practices and innovative technology solutions. Devaney is committed to farming responsibly and sustainably, balancing fertilization, irrigation, and productivity while being a good steward of the land. He is part of the Data Driven Sustainable Smart Farming Project, which aims to improve environmental outcomes and productivity for Australia’s horticulture sector. Devaney's ultimate vision is to achieve market and consumer confidence by being transparent about the journey of each Bartle Frere Bananas bunch from paddock, through the supply chain, to market.
The Challenge
Bartle Frere Bananas, a mid-sized, multi-generational farm in Far North Queensland, Australia, was on a mission to improve environmental outcomes and productivity for Australia’s horticulture sector. The farm, which supplies small markets and major grocery chains alike, was facing challenges related to extreme weather systems, flooding, and rising operational costs. The owner, Gavin Devaney, was committed to farming responsibly and sustainably, which meant balancing fertilization, irrigation, and productivity while being good stewards of the land. The farm wanted to gather data from across its operation and generate insights to inform best management practices, productivity, regulatory compliance, and sustainability. Devaney wanted to prove that his operations adhered to the farming industry’s best management practices and demonstrate that the bananas at Bartle Frere Bananas are carefully grown in a more innovative and sustainable way.
The Solution
Hitachi Vantara collaborated with Bartle Frere Bananas and Applied Horticulture Research to develop a smart farming solution. The solution involved the correlation of real-time irrigation data, soil moisture, online nitrate leaching data, and weather monitoring and forecasting to inform horticulture best practice. It required bespoke software development and a configuration of Hitachi Lumada Manufacturing Insights designed for a horticulture use case. The implementation required the integration of sensor data from dozens of sources including a weather station, connectivity with a cloud platform, curation of the data, advanced data analytics, and the presentation of actionable insights. Hitachi Vantara provided overall solution design, sourcing of sensors and other technologies, and implementation including data capture, edge computing, sensors and trackers, advanced analytics, and the output interface. All of this data was analyzed and presented visually, as data, alerts, and prescriptive insights via the Hitachi Vantara Control Tower solution user interface at the farm office to inform daily management decisions and long-term planning.
Operational Impact
  • The implementation of the smart farming solution has transformed the operations at Bartle Frere Bananas. Data now informs the entire harvest calendar at the farm. Every morning, Devaney checks the visualizations and decision support, starting with irrigation. Weather tracking, forecasting, soil moisture sensors, and AI modeling enable Devaney to determine how much, when, and precisely where controlled irrigation is required. This has resulted in reduced water waste, healthier plants, and energy cost savings since irrigation pumps are only run when necessary. Devaney now tracks the timing and location of labor movements, plant management at all stages of production, nutrient and sediment movement, product management, and environmental and atmospheric changes. When combined, this data tells Devaney a detailed story on his paddocks and plants, and allows him to make informed decisions on his crop and business management. Analytics and prescriptive insights from Hitachi’s Lumada Manufacturing Insights suite help predict when the fruit will reach maturity and assist with responsible pest and disease management. Devaney has also seen a vast reduction in paperwork and administration.
Quantitative Benefit
  • Proved that best-practice farming methods minimize nitrate run-off
  • Optimized fertilization and irrigation
  • Increased operational productivity through data-driven planning

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