Are electronic rain gauges the most widely adopted agtech in Australia

Andrew Coppin says electronic rain gauges save farmers time and allow data to be stored in one location.

AgSmart Expo: Yabby Sensors managing director Steve Dudgeon with a cellular tank monitor and rain gauge. The company also offers a satellite version.

"Water is the lifeblood of all agriculture."

That's the view of Australian Agritech Association chairman Andrew Coppin and it's a sentiment shared by many, if not all, farmers.

As a result, Mr Coppin said it was not really a surprise that electronic rain gauges have become a popular product for farmers entering the agtech ecosystem.

"Have you ever met a farmer who's first thought of the day isn't about the weather?," he said.

"Farmers have an obsession with the weather, which is really a proxy for rainfall and how much water is available."

Mr Coppin said electronic rain gauges could save farmers time and allowed data to be stored in one location.

He said farmers had a long history of recording rainfall, with some farm records going back 50 to 80 years.

"A lot of farmers will have a rain gauge on the homestead, on the back paddock, on a water tank and have this ritual to drive around and check water and other things," Mr Coppin said.

"In removing that and giving it to people on their mobile phone or laptop, we are changing how people behave and changing their habits.

"It is giving them time back and it's not taking away from the value proposition of knowing their rainfall."

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Earlier this month at the AgSmart Expo in Tamworth, NSW, 10 per cent of exhibitors had a rain or weather monitoring device on offer.

This showing far outstripped the number of agtech products offered in other categories.

Yabby Sensors managing director Steve Dudgeon was one of the exhibitors on hand to talk about the advantages of adopting electronic rain gauges.

"The appeal is to have your local rain data as opposed to relying on potentially the Bureau of Meteorology or regional rain gauges, which aren't as accurate for your own property," Mr Dudgeon said.

"There's also the variability of rainfall across properties, so having multiple rain gauges will actually tell you what your rainfall is across your property."

Mr Dudgeon said having a more accurate assessment of on-farm rainfall allowed farmers to plan how best to manage and use water resources.

In Yabby Sensors' case, rain gauges are able to be linked up with pump controls.

"We can automatically fill your tanks up depending on levels in your tank, automatically fill up from a pump in a creek, and they can actually be a few kilometres apart," Mr Dudgeon said.

"It's all automated but can be done manually on our platform; uniquely our web app is modular so we can set it up to suit each individual."

Farmbot, which Mr Coppin is the managing director of, was another one of the exhibitors at AgSmart.

He said Farmbot had experienced a "pretty high adoption" of rain gauges and was continuing to iterate and develop its technology.

"I think 78 per cent of our customer base have adopted an electronic rain gauge," he said.

Mr Coppin said there was a spectrum when it comes to rain gauges and you could "buy a Hyundai or a buy a Ferrari".

He said there was generally no technical skill required or extra products needed to set them up.

However, he said farmers still had a problem believing the data.

"Every rain gauge on the market is prone to disruption by leaf clutter - so is your traditional rain gauge - by spiders getting into the rain gauge, by wind distortion," Mr Coppin said.

"All these things can distort rain in an electronic rain gauge but 90pc of them would distort rain in a sight rain gauge.

"As we move into a digitisation of agriculture and as agritech becomes more mainstream, there's a need to be able to trust the data - we are in the early stages of that learning curve for people."

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