Farm safety

AirAgri ups farmers’ chances of coming home safely every day

Liz Wells June 24, 2024

Russell Saunders using the AirAgri device. Photo: AirAgri

ONE SAD fact unites all of us who work in and around agriculture; we have been rocked by the news of someone who has died alone while out on the farm.

Whether caused by a medical episode, an accident, or suicide, there is often a case to say that a first response in the “golden hour” after the trauma could have saved that precious life.

In order to make the farm safer for its principals, workers, and contractors too, brothers Paul and James Diamond have developed AirAgri, which recently received WorkSafe Victoria’s 2023 Commitment to Workplace Health and Safety on a Farm award.

For the cost of $39.95 per month per farm, and $1.50 per day with the personal  locator device, AirAgri devices can answer what James Diamond says are two crucial questions central to any farming operation: How is the farmer, and where is the farmer?

‘Golden hour’ paramount

The Diamonds are third-generation graziers at Mansfield in Victoria’s high country, where they run Angus cattle and Merino sheep on a 1000ha property.

They previously owned a horticultural operation near Mildura, so have operated in the flat country too, and the brothers five years ago embarked on the path to developing AirAgri software.

Mr Diamond said one of its aims is to help bridge the growing gap between technology seen in farming equipment, and that aimed at preserving every farm’s number-one asset, the farmer.

“It’s fantastic having a tractor that can drive itself, but… a tragic event on the farm will often lead to the sale of the farm within five years.”

Mr Diamond said AirAgri aims to ensure an appropriate alert triggered by a serious incident can be elicited within the “golden hour” to eliminate the risk of a farmer, farm worker, or contractor lying unconscious, or calling for help from a communications blackspot, for an extended period.

AirAgri software responds to abnormal behaviours, such as prolonged inactivity, from the user.

“It means, for example, that a heart attack on the farm does not have to be a death on the farm.”

Three challenges in mind

Using a combination of James’ skills in technology, and Paul’s in animal science and farm management, the Diamond brothers looked to overcome what James said where three major challenges to farm-safety technology: connectivity, the feedback loop, and the microclimate.

“We looked at the underlying factors impacting farmers coming home, and we struggled to find the right combination of cost and solutions available in what was out there.

“The first challenge was connectivity.”

AirAgri has overcome that by utilising the direct-to-satellite iridium network which allows the user to be located when an alert is sent, and all units have a manual SOS button.

“We’re cellular independent.”

It means an alert can be sent to a party on or off the farm, and a “digital twin” of the property gives information about the user’s situation.

That can indicate a precarious location, such as a flooded creek or a steep incline, or in what is of itself a “safe” location, such as the cab of a tractor while doing field work on flat ground.

“The second challenge is the feedback loop; we need to ensure that we can accurately and effectively get the right information, and get first responders there. “

“The third piece is the environment, or microclimate.”

That relates to the task being undertaken, and the extent and nature of the task, with sowing being an example of when fatigue is likely to be a factor.

Brothers James and Paul Diamond have developed the AirAgri platform to improve safety on farm. Photo: AirAgri

Mr Diamond said AirAgri’s new capabilities includes voice analysis, which helping farmers understand “where they’re at and how they’re tracking” with regard to fatigue and other factors.

“Your brain assessing your brain is one of the hardest things that happen on the planet. “

The information is available only to the user, and is only generated when working on the farm.

With grandfather in mind

An AirAgri user generally attaches the unit to the belt they don with their workwear, and a mobile phone app is used to tailor its functions on a per-day, per-task, or general basis.

The platform was designed with the Diamonds’ grandfather, now in his nineties, in mind.

“He’s passed the point of learning new skills, but he can use this.

“We’ve designed it so that if you just want to take it out the box, charge it, and put it on your belt, that’s what you can do.”

“He charges it next to his hearing aids.”

AirAgri has around 300 users spread across Australia, and properties where it is in use range in size from lifestyle holdings to vast ones, with corporate as well as family clients in the mix.

“It’s been available for three years, but this year has been our public launch.

“We’ve been working with farmers by a word of mouth and pilot phase, and we’ve been going to field days, and industry events to promote it.”

Mr Diamond said AirAgri is currently in discussions with state and national bodies to incorporate its use into membership structures.

The hardware is a rental model which means damaged or malfunctioning units are replaced, and the AirAgri base has already expanded beyond farming and grazing operations to other sectors.

“If there’s anything that goes wrong with the device, the farmer sends it back and we send another one.”

Mr Diamond said AirAgri’s design is improving over time, although machine washing is not recommended.

“You can wash it on a three-hour cycle and it still works”.

Grain Central: Get our free news straight to your inbox – Click here


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


Get Sheep Central's news headlines emailed to you -