GRAINCORP has bought a 15-per-cent stake in Hone to support the development of technology that it says will make grain and soil-testing more readily available to growers.
The start-up was founded by Antony Martin, William Palmer and Jamie Flynn in 2016 after they completed their PhDs at the University of Newcastle.
The initial concept for the Hone device, a handheld spectrometer, was born out of the founders’ development of a 3D microscope to image medical samples, which they realised could be developed into an accurate portable testing kit for the agricultural industry.
GrainCorp is eastern Australia’s biggest bulk handler of grain by far, and Hone CEO Dr Martin said he hoped Hone’s partnership with GrainCorp would accelerate the adoption of the technology by growers across the eastern seaboard.
“The technology empowers producers to make real-time, data-based decisions that result in healthier soil and crops, more sustainable farming practices and ultimately a more profitable business,” Dr Martin said.
“Our vision is for anyone to be able to test what they want, when they want, without the inconvenience of collecting and sending samples away for weeks on end.
“Hone’s work is ultimately enabling continuous improvement in the quality space, which can only drive value back into a grower’s pocket.”
“We certainly hope it will accelerate the uptake of carbon farming for landholders as well.”
Hone’s technology can be used to analyse grain quality, soil carbon, and many other agricultural products and inputs.
GrainCorp’s chief innovation and growth officer Jesse Scott said the company had already been working alongside Hone for two years to parallel test their handheld devices which provide a real-time chemical analysis of crops.
“We’ve been extremely impressed with Hone’s equipment; it’s as accurate and consistent as anything we’ve seen in the industry, but the big difference is that growers will literally be able to hold it in their hands,” Mr Scott said.
“For the grains industry, getting your answer on a crop sample can take weeks – with Hone, this process can be brought down to minutes at the touch of a button.”
“We’re also excited by the potential to use the technology in soil carbon testing and assessing carbon sequestration, which could open up new offset prospects for growers and the industry as a whole.”
Mr Scott said the technology will open up enormous opportunities for GrainCorp as well as for growers.
“Hone’s technology is a big step forward for our business and the broader grains industry,” he said.