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Grain Automate Programs 2 and 3
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Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Darwin, Hobart
Overview of the opportunity in Grain Automate
Grain Automate is a new initiative from GRDC within the scope of GRDC’s new 2023-2028 RD&E plan. Grain Automate will be a portfolio of new research, development, and extension (RD&E) investments aimed at delivering outcomes for Australian grain growers in machine autonomy and intelligent systems. It complements GRDC’s existing investment programs in precision agriculture, digital agronomy, and advanced analytics.
Grain Automate is structured within three programs of investment. Those programs are intended to act as an inter-connected portfolio of research, development, and extension (RD&E) that extend across the value chain. GRDC intends to source market-driven thinking on how to deliver against identified focus areas within each of the three programs of investment. The three programs are summarised in table 1 of the full RFP document.
GRDC’s approach to establishing the Grain Automate portfolio
GRDC’s investment strategy is based on an expected stepwise progression to full autonomy; one in which the value for growers is generated incrementally from the basics of precision agriculture through to fully autonomous machines leveraging advanced agronomic analytics (see figure 1). While GRDC’s investment strategy is based on three programs of investment, other firms such as Raven Industries have proposed a more detailed stepwise progression to autonomy through multiple levels. Some platforms for autonomy (i.e., cab-less machines operating as a swarm) may not require the same stepwise approach to autonomy but are still firmly in scope of GRDC’s investment strategy for autonomy.
GRDC anticipates contracting multiple projects in each of the three programs following this initial approach to market which involves:
- Request for Tender (RFT) for a National Coordinator for the Grain Automate Portfolio
- Expression of Interest (EOI) for Program 1 opportunities
- Request for Proposal (RFP) for Program 2 and 3 opportunities
Those projects would be contracted and managed individually, but co-ordinated with other investments in the Grain Automate portfolio to leverage synergies and create value-adds where possible. GRDC will also seek to connect existing projects into the Grain Automate portfolio to explore valuable opportunities for collaboration with other partners.
GRDC’s will focus its initial investment on establishing and scaling up Program 1 (Paving the way for autonomy) and establishing smaller-scale, targeted investments in Program 2 and 3. While GRDC intends to scale up its investment in Programs 2 and 3 significantly over the next 2-3 years, the Grain Automate portfolio will be designed to adapt and respond to new opportunities quickly and efficiently. That will likely involve a combination of future, additional open approaches to market and limited tenders with some organisations.
Description of Program 2
Program 2 is focussed on the technical development, adaptations and improvements required to enable supervised to full autonomy in Australian grain cropping systems. A core premise of Program 2 is that tangible benefits to Australian growers can be realised by co-investment in solutions tailored to the needs of Australian grain cropping systems; solutions that leverage technology stacks already developed by major original equipment manufacturers, SMEs, and even start-ups, but nonetheless require tailored testing and/or adaptations to meet the task requirements specific to Australian grain cropping systems and environments. In scope of Program 2 are the disruptive (cab-less) technology platforms that may not follow the stepwise progression to machine autonomy but could still have a strong product/market fit in Australian grain cropping systems.
Description of Program 3
Program 3 aims to understand the potential paradigm shifts required to extract the most value from full autonomy. The focus is on quantifying and better understanding the technical and commercial feasibility of new solutions that leverage related data flows on-farm to optimise agronomic outcomes. For example, workflows that leverage full autonomy alongside crop-soil agronomic analytics to autonomously determine and apply the optimum site by season nitrogen rate required to maximise profit and nitrogen-use-efficiency in every paddock in every season. A second focus in Program 3 is understanding the scope to connect relevant data flows pre-and-post farm gate to inform and optimise the scheduling and operation of full autonomy on-farm. For example, increasingly automated data flows between harvesters, chaser bins, track drivers and receival sites to dynamically optimise the breadth of operations involved in harvest logistics.
There are four opportunities available to applicants across Program 2 and Program 3 in this RFP process. They are described in table 2 and 3. GRDC’s intention with each of these opportunities is to provide background information and guidance on what is in scope, but then source market-driven thinking and innovation on how to best deliver against the high-level outcome for each opportunity.
An applicant can apply for one or more of the four opportunities, but each opportunity must be applied for separately through the Grains Investment Portal.
For the avoidance of doubt, any references to Request for Tender (RFT) Terms and Conditions on the GRDC Website and the Grains Investment Portal should be taken as the Terms and Conditions for this Request for Proposal (RFP).
Conditions for Participation
The following are mandatory conditions with which a Tenderer must comply to participate in this procurement process:
1 The Tenderer must be a single legal entity or recognised firm of partners except where the Tender is submitted by a consortium and the Tender specifies that each member of the proposed consortium will be party to the contract.
2 The Tenderer and any proposed subcontractor must be compliant with the Workplace Gender Equality Act 2012, the Modern Slavery Act 2018 and any other applicable labour laws and standards in the jurisdiction in which they operate.
3 The Tenderer and any subcontractor must not have a judicial decision against it (not including decisions under appeal) relating to employee entitlements and who have not paid the claim.
4 The Tenderer and any subcontractor must not be named on the Consolidated List, being the list of persons and entities who are subject to targeted financial sanctions or travel bans under Australian sanction laws, as maintained by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Minimum Form and Content Requirements
The following are the mandatory content and format requirements that the Tenderer must complete and provide to participate in this procurement process:
1 Submit Tenders using the Grains Investment Portal.
2 Write Tenders in English and express any measurements in Australian legal units of measurement.
3 Budget details must be submitted on the ‘GRDC Budget Template’ provided in the Grains Investment Portal.
Two (2) to three (3) years - 2023/24 to 2024/25-2025/26
GRDC Grains Investment Portal: https://access.grdc.com.au/