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WA’s Future Young Leader Guy Coleman talks up Anzac biscuits and open source tech in agriculture at evokeAG

Olivia FordCountryman
WA’s 2024 Future Young Leader Guy Coleman and Jackie Jarvis.
Camera IconWA’s 2024 Future Young Leader Guy Coleman and Jackie Jarvis. Credit: Supplied

A CWA cookbook passed through many hands and an open source weed detection technology. What do these two seemingly unrelated things have in common?

Guy Coleman, WA’s 2024 AgriFutures Future Young Leader, answered that question during the presentation of his research topic at this year’s evokeAG event.

At the Asia-Pacific’s biggest agri-food event, Mr Coleman spoke about the importance of open source technology in agriculture, linking the software back to his grandmother’s 27th edition CWA Cookbook, and more specifically, its Anzac biscuit recipe.

Mr Coleman said the biscuit recipe that has been “edited and adapted” and “shared through people and time,” gives the same benefits that open source technology does: It provides a foundational recipe that people can tweak and modify to make their own.

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Mr Coleman is the creator of OpenWeedLocator, an open source technology for site specific weed control.

“It’s a DIY, low-cost system which includes a little computer called the Raspberry Pi, the control board, a driver board, and some other hardware so people can detect weeds using image-based detection algorithms,” he said.

“It’s built off the open source principles of community, collaboration, transparency.”

Guy Coleman in a cotton field in Texas.
Camera IconGuy Coleman in a cotton field in Texas. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

Mr Coleman said open technology such as OWL helps growers get from “zero to one” without paying the financial cost that would come with having to invent technology from scratch, or purchasing something made by someone else.

He said OWL was all about empowering different people across the world dealing with the same problem.

“If we come together and put these tools for innovation in farmer’s and everyone’s hands, we pull back the curtains on the propriety black boxes that have been created for the purpose of maximising profits.”

Speaking more broadly about evokeAg, Mr Coleman said he was excited to attend the event and see what it had to offer.

“It gets you so hyped up about the industry and it builds a lot of energy,” he said.

“Meeting people, sharing ideas, discussing new tech . . . it’s a good way to be inspired. You really feel the energy for the industry in Australia.”

Mr Coleman said tech in agriculture is not only something that can solve problems, it can help bring more people into the industry.

“Tech makes (the agriculture industry) more open so people can work and learn about agriculture through technology. I think that was something I was really interested in,” he said.

“If we give people the opportunity to learn about ag while learning about technology through ag related devices and systems, it might be a good opportunity to get more people involved.”

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