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Seaweed For Humanity

Seaweed is a sunrise industry that offers potential to reduce climate change, create sustainable income for communities and provide significant health benefits. Dr. Hugh Butler, CEO of Marine Algae Products explains how Konect has transformed their sustainable seaweed business – a quantum leap from when data collection was via a waterproof pencil and paper.

“Seaweed farming is unique, but like any farm, every operation occurs at a time and place. Konect helps us manage data on any farm, by building a custom system around the digital map of the farm and its assets.”

 

When Marine Algae Products went looking for a technology platform for its Philippines-based sustainable aquaculture farm, the challenge was met when Global GBM’s powerful field management app, Konect provided the scalable system they were looking for.

“We wanted to look at the entire process, from planting, through 45 days of growing, to include water temperature, tide movements, cultivar, atmospheric conditions, seaweed variety and nutrients”, explained Dr. Hugh Butler, CEO.

In the field, it’s the job of eight Aquanauts (marine science graduates) to gather the data. This job was previously done with a waterproof pencil and paper pad, before the results were entered onto a spreadsheet.

“Konect saved us a couple of hours at the end of the day, but more importantly, the data is now real time and we can deploy three Aquanauts to different roles across the farm: One doing planting, one maintenance, and one the harvest and management. This is where the value of Konect comes from; we get real time access to how much seaweed has been planted, how much has been grown, and progress with the required maintenance protocols. I can monitor this from 5000km away on the Sunshine Coast.”

Traceability is a huge consideration for Marine Algae. The ability for customers to see photographs of the growing location and production data from a single batch number is crucial to the transparency Hugh is seeking.

“We are extending our Konect system. In the next few months, for example, a customer of our liquid fertilizer bio-stimulant will be able to know which one of our 60 farmers supplied the seaweed, the species, the growing location, the date of harvest, and the seaweed component of the product.”

Hugh explains that it is not necessary to measure everything, but the ability to add new data fields and new measurements is crucial. “We can easily modify Konect on the fly, without having to re-jig the whole system. When we brought in new farmers, it took us just a couple of hours to make adjustments, and have the revised App ready to go. Our buyer enters the data straight away, which gives us visibility over which farmer supplies how much product over the season. We can now use that as a means to pay the farmer directly.”

With the roll-out of a new food product imminent, the ability to track the product every step of the way is critical to customer acceptance. “Seaweed offers many health benefits, and as we roll it out, we can offer the consumer full visibility, using the same Konect data capture and tracking processes we currently use, to provide better traceability than most food products. It’s like a customer knowing which tree their fruit came from!”

Supplying Konect, and providing mobility workflow software for agriculture and environment, AgKonect CEO, Dr. Pete Whittle explains how their relationship with Marine Algae developed. “We never expected to be building seaweed management, but it works as well for that as it does for any other farm management system. It indicates just how versatile Konect is .”

“When clients come in, they say, “We have tried off-the-shelf products, but they can’t be customised. They do many things, but not some key things we need them to do.” Hugh’s story shows other farmers that we can build a customised system that works for them – whether their product is seaweed, prawns, sugarcane, mangoes or pineapples or anything else. We never assume that we know what our client wants, and spend time with them to find their problems, pain points and objectives. Once we understand the problem, we can develop a solution that will meet the client’s needs.”

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