The Green Tech Solution

Rob Bell

Issue 29, December 2019

New technologies and industries should help clean up our land and oceans instead of polluting them.

We read so much about how new technology plays a role in harming the environment, from power usage to e-waste, and other impacts that are immeasurable.

However, there’s a growing collection of initiatives and startups that will change the role technology and industry plays, ultimately forming part of the solution.


Let’s take agriculture for example. As demand for clean growing methods without the use of pesticides continues to grow, it’s a catalyst driving innovation.

Naturally, pesticides and herbicides have long been deemed a necessary part of agriculture. While organic farming has grown substantially, and most supermarkets now carry a range of organic produce, it’s still not the normal approach. Organic farming can be more difficult to manage, and while a portion of people will happily pay the premium, it’s simply not feasible for everyone to do so.

There’s also a growing issue of weeds’ increasing resistance to herbicides, which is a natural evolution against their use, and will continue to happen. Pesticides and herbicides also end up in our waterways and are easily blown across areas that aren’t being targeted.

So what if we can remove the pesticides and herbicides from regular agriculture, while still tackling the issue of weeds, which fight for nutrients against the crops?

That’s what Aussie startup Growave is doing. Headed up by Graham Brodie, their system targets weeds using microwaves. Just like making popcorn in a microwave, their technology causes cell destruction in the weeds. The major benefit here is that it can be applied and localised to very specific areas, isn’t weather dependent, and of course, won’t release chemicals into the environment, because none are used.


While we’ve seen some amazing new startups creating smart packaging solutions to reduce waste, the industry as a whole will take time to evolve and change. Additionally, there’s already millions of tonnes of waste entering oceans every year (with the current estimation in the trillions of pieces of rubbish). While we need to curb this, as a matter of importance, we also need to figure out how to remove what’s already there.

Sure, technology is partly what created the rubbish, but it can certainly be used to solve the problem too.

There are several startups and initiatives tackling this issue of rubbish and debris. While some initiatives undertake fairly regular approaches using ships and floating booms to circle and gather floating rubbish, other startups are taking a more autonomous approach. There are examples popping up in cities all over the country. There’s a growing trend for solar and tidal powered collection systems, which are periodically emptied, which are showing huge signs of promise. Most are in early pilot phases, however, they’re starting to yield real results and will no doubt play an important role in the future cleanup solutions.

One interesting initiative in Australia is the Australian Marine Debris Database, run by Tangaroa Blue. This initiative focuses not directly on the solution, but helping database and track the many different initiatives being undertaken across the country. This database can guide funding and attention to areas where it’s needed most, so that any solutions deployed can be done in a most effective way.


For large pastoral enterprises raising thousands of cattle, keeping track of cattle and land conditions was a huge ongoing challenge.

As smart drones and connected technology increases in its ability to undertake complex tasks, we’re seeing increasing use of these technologies to cover thousands of kilometers of ground using far less energy and resources than previously required. Drones are now being deployed to run autonomous missions to record data, take headcounts on cattle, and so much more.

The integrated technologies assist farmers to perform exhaustive tasks with ease. Not only can they save time and energy, but they can make better decisions with the abundant data. Finding the most mature paddocks to move the cattle to, checking on water troughs for damage or equipment failure, checking for damaged fences, and so much more.

We have already written about the team at Smart Paddock, who are working to enable healthier farms with smart tags, which monitor cattle movements and health. This is better for the farmer, and better for the cattle, helping address problems at the earliest possible moments.

Especially here in Australia, where farms can span such a large area, these technologies allow far better management. Healthy farms mean healthy food, after all.


We have only scratched the surface. Are you working on, or do you know about a great startup involved in green tech? Tell us about it!