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EvokeAG looks to grow innovation in agriculture

Food waste, pathways for innovation and artificial intelligence in agriculture are key themes of evokeAG's 2024 conference.

A supplied image obtained on Thursday, October 5, 2023, of Olympia Yarger poses for a photo at the Goterra facility in Hume, ACT. Image AAP

Australia has no time to waste when it comes to food, with about 7.6 million tonnes of food wasted across the supply chain every year.

Just how new technology can be used to make use of that waste is one of the key topics at the evokeAG agritech conference in February, with the program released on Thursday.

Olympia Yarger, the head of waste management company Goterra who created a maggot feedlot that diverts waste into livestock feed, says Australia could be better at offering innovators opportunities to commercialise their creations.

"We're good at creating great ideas and building innovation but not as good at creating commercial pathways for those innovations," Ms Yarger says.

"What I think we need to realise is, it's not a matter of whether or not people want to take part. It's actually a matter of nobody really knows how."

The company's founder and chief executive is one of 80 speakers who will present at the evokeAG conference in Perth.

More than 1500 people from eight countries are expected to attend.

"EvokeAG isn't a conversation that starts and stops at the farmgate but one that continues across the agricultural supply chain and into other sectors," Ms Yarger says.

She will share Goterra's story, which includes diverting thousands of tonnes of food waste from Woolworths' Sydney stores from landfill and turning it into livestock feed and fertiliser.

She will also discuss how her business went from an idea to commercialisation in just four years.

"There is very little understanding around why we don't move faster, why we move too fast sometimes and where those challenges are," she tells AAP.

"And more importantly, how do agricultural stakeholders engage with innovation?"


Applying artificial intelligence within food systems will also be a key focus of the agritech event, hosted by AgriFutures Australia.

"What's AI going to do to supply chains?" AgriFutures managing director John Harvey says.

"We've seen this incredible explosion in people's exposure to AI, everyone's experimenting ... and I guess the question we're asking is, how's it going to affect agriculture?

"It will impact agriculture, exactly how is what we're exploring at the conference."

EvokeAG will run over two days and will also look at how the two key Western Australian industries of mining and agriculture can benefit one another. 

"We know in the west, the mining industry has been leading in some of the innovations," Mr Harvey says.

"What are the synergies between the two industries? Where could we actually work together and collaborate?"


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