By Michelle Pelletier Marshall, Global AgInvesting Media
Mark Peart has done a lot of things in his career – aerial- mustering, logistics, property, and aviation, as well as being a self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur” who has started 20 businesses – and all of it has prepared him for his role as founder and CEO of DIT (Direct Injection Technologies) AgTech. In a world where much has changed, though slowly in the very traditional industry of agriculture where a wary eye is not easily won over with new technology, DIT AgTech has become Australia’s leading expert in livestock technology and nutrient supplementation through water systems.
Paying particular attention to impact – impact on farmers, impact on nature, and impact on the future – DIT AgTech’s solutions stress less harm farming to help farmers better feed the world. Its proportional dosing of supplements in livestock drinking water, which utilizes cloud-based technology linked to remote monitoring to enable farmers to check livestock watering points, feeding devices, or other sites via a mobile device or computer, can reduce costs from $0.40 (US$0.30) to $0.08 (US$0.06) per head per day all while increasing productivity. Customers have reported an increase in Average Daily Gains (ADG) of up to 55 percent and an increase in conception rates of up to 15 percent, meaning more calves on the ground as a result of more efficient delivery (via the water) of nutrients to the animal. Additionally, this more efficient supplementation method reduces inputs and environmental impact on the land while enhancing animal welfare.
Founded in 2016, the company has seen Australia’s leading cattle companies adopt DIT technology through the hard work of the 30+ full-time staff across five locations. The annualised recurring revenue growth has increased by 50 percent in FY21 and the business in on track to see a six-fold increase in annualised recurring revenue in FY22. It was the first agtech business in Australia to take advantage of 2017 equity crowdfunding legislation when it raised A$650,000 (US$486,590) in 2017, and $845,000 (US$617,652) in 2020. Additionally, the team has boot strapped the company to scale and grow, which has included private placements with a variety of financial instruments.
GAI News caught up with Peart at the company’s headquarters in Toowoomba, in Southern Queensland, to get more details.
1). I’ve heard that you can be seen flying your plane around the country in an effort to reach the farmers of Australia’s 97 million cattle and sheep with your message and product. How did your experiences bring you to found DIT AgTech?
As we say in Australia, I’ve been around the bush a bit. I like to think that I listen and learn and as a result I understand the commercial aspects of what we’re doing. Of all my travels and everything I’ve done, agriculture is the last traditional industry, especially livestock production. In Australia, one of the biggest issues is the vastness of the pastoral industry and the remoteness of operations, so my aviation experience has really given me a good understanding of how we could create an agtech business in the Australian livestock space while exploring the substantial opportunity in extensive grazing production systems globally. From my experiences, it was clear to me that tech would disrupt agriculture like it has disrupted every other industry around the globe.
I saw a real problem for farmers, and I wanted to be part of a solution. The Australian landscape is extensive and harsh for animal production system. To increase production out here, you need to manage two key aspects: genetics and the environment. Farmers are getting very good at managing genetics, but managing the environment is much more difficult. Weather patterns are unpredictable, and farmers must supplement their livestock with nutrients to maximize growth and reduce grazing pressures. I felt that if we could better manage livestock supplement intake and tailor it specifically to the animal and the farm, we could increase production. My father had developed water supplementation systems in the 1970s, and this background provided the competitive advantage to apply and adapt current-day technology to a proven concept.
2). Please explain more about your product.
When supplementing in Australia, farmers typically feed livestock different forms of protein plus micro and macro nutrients through what they call a dry lick. This is a hard-formed block that is placed on the ground in the open paddock for the cattle and sheep to lick to get the nutrients they need. This process can be very inefficient, and it’s a logistical nightmare to get it out around the farm – think about the labour hours, vehicle hours, fuel, and emissions involved getting supplement across scale of Australian pastoral operations. More importantly, you can’t measure what is taken up by livestock, so you can’t manage it. So what we do at DIT AgTech is take all those nutrients – and with the use of technology and chemical innovation – we efficiently, safely, and precisely distribute them via the livestock’s drinking water.
Cattle and sheep have to drink, and they drink proportional to their body weight, therefore every animal receives the correct nutrients. And when you put the nutrients in the water, the animals stop hanging around the lick block all day – where they degrade the land and eat all the grass – and they start moving and being active in a much more sustainable grazing pattern. And finally, the farmer can remotely monitor the process which saves labour, vehicles, fuel, and inputs by single point distribution.
3). What is your product reach at this point, and what type of feedback and results have you received?
As with any start-up, managing cashflow is critical, and given the marketing and distribution challenge presented by the vastness and scale of the Australian pastoral sector, we needed to make sure that we targeted the top 10 big customers, instead of 10,000 smaller ones. Currently DIT AgTech products are utilized by four of the top 10 cattle producers in Australia and is well represented across the top 20 percent of producers.
Some of the larger livestock operations in Australia spend millions a year on their supplementation programs, so by changing the delivery mechanism from lick blocks to proportional dosing via the water, we can decrease this cost by up to 80 percent (i.e. 40c down to 8c/head/day). More importantly, because we’re managing the environment, we’re putting the supplements in at exactly the right time each day, day after day, into the drinking water. We’re seeing production benefits. Our customers are increasing their calving and lambing percentages by 10 to 15 percent, and they are putting more weight on their cattle and sheep. So we’re helping to produce more kilos of meat, wool, and milk with less animals on the land, which is more sustainable and better for the environment. As a result, the feedback we’ve received has been great and keeps our team working hard.
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About DIT AgTech
At DIT AgTech, our purpose is “To enable farmers to produce more with less”.
This is the driver and motivator behind everything we are working towards.
Our TRACK RECORD
Revenues have increased 1200% in the last 2 FY’s and are projected to continue on a steep growth path as farmers adopt supplementing livestock via drinking water.
Our FUNDING GOAL
- DIT is seeking to raise up to $2 million in the form of a convertible note returning an 8% p.a. return and a 25% conversion at IPO within the next 6–12 months.
- Funds will be used to scale up DIT and continue to grow revenues and acquire customers in Australia.
DIT AgTech delivers production solutions to farmers in the Australian Livestock Industry which will benefit the global population via our mandate to increase food production ethically and sustainably.
- DIT provide farmers with dosing devices and proprietary nutritional supplements, utilising IoT monitoring, to increase animal production and welfare via livestock drinking water, using subscription based revenue models.
- Our products can reduce the traditional cost of supplementing cattle from $0.40 to $0.08 cents per head per day via their water while enhancing welfare and sustainability.
- The company transacts with the largest corporate beef and sheep producers in Australia.
- The company is seeking to capture the largest first mover advantage in the Agricultural industry for ag tech and build a Global Australian ag tech enterprise to shore up food security for humanity.
- Mark Peart, founder and CEO, has over 35 years Agribusiness experience, and is supported by an experienced Board and a management team of young, intelligent Agri professionals to expand the business to enable farmers to produce more with less.