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Microsoft FarmBeats for Students program (closed pilot)

Empowering students to apply their digital skills and knowledge to agricultural challenges.

FarmBeats for Students

[A black screen appears with two small leaves on the left of text: FarmBeats for Students]  

[Image changes to show a female bending down in a paddock and looking at a plant in a very young crop]  

Narrator: Today’s farms are beginning to look a lot more like Smart cities.  

[Image changes to show an aerial view of farmland and then a connecting network of signals appear spread over the farmland, and then the image changes to show a crop with data superimposed over it]  

Digital signals connect people to each other, to the Cloud, and data.  

[Images move through to show a close view of hands holding a young plant surrounded by a focus symbol, and data on a Smartphone screen on the left and a hand holding a young plant on the right]  

Growers are using multiple sensors to collect a more complete view of their crops.  

[Images move through of sprinklers irrigating a crop, a digital view of farmland with indications of data superimposed over it, a satellite view of swirling clouds, and clouds moving over farmland]  Their insights drive decisions like turning on irrigation systems, indicating where fertiliser should be applied, and predicting crop yields based on weather patterns.  

[Images move through of digital views of a tractor moving through a crop, various pieces of data on a computer screen, and a drone moving over a crop tracking data from the crop]  

By applying computer vision and artificial intelligence, growers are seeing their crops in new ways which helps them with crop monitoring, discovering inefficiencies, and are marking new insights to improved food production.  

[Image changes to show a male and female working in a garden, and then the image changes to show a sensor attached to a piece of fencing in the garden area]  The FarmBeats for Students programme brings these modern tools into the hands of today’s learners.  

[Image changes to show a close view of two students at work and then the image changes to show the sensor kit they are working on, and then the image changes to show the sensor kit in the garden]  

The affordable hardware kit and curriculum is designed to give students hands on experiences in applying digital techniques to food production.  

[Image changes to show a sensor in the soil and then the image changes to show a male looking at a tomato plant and a tablet, and the camera zooms in on Excel graphs on the tablet screen]  

Using an array of sensors that measure soil moisture, light, humidity, and temperature, students can stream, visualise, and analyse data in Excel.  

[Image changes to show data on the tablet screen, and then the image changes to show a male holding a Smartphone up to a plant on a trellis]  

Additionally, working with curated data collections provides them with first-hand experience using the power that big data can bring to gaining insights into food production.

[Camera zooms in on the male photographing tomatoes on a trellis on the Smartphone, and then the image changes to show different pictures of rust on plant leaves on the tablet screen]  

Students can also build, train, and apply custom deep learning models to help track and inform plant health.  

[Image changes to show a log in page on the programme and then the image changes to show different photos of healthy leaves and then leaves with rust disease on them]

Using the log application students experience how computer vision is changing how we literally see data.

[Image changes to show a healthy leaf on the tablet screen again and then the image changes to show the male and female working on the tomato plants in the garden]

FarmBeats for Students is designed to introduce every learner to the concepts of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science.  

[Image changes to show irrigation sprinklers in a crop, and then the image changes to show a male standing in the middle of a cereal crop and scrolling through information on a tablet]  

By focussing on growing food, students can begin to easily see the connections between using modern tools, and the jobs to be done.   

[Images move through to show a female bending down and looking at the leaves on a young plant and then looking at a tablet screen, and then a rear view of the female walking through a grown crop]  

Farm Beats for Students is designed to provide access and understanding to the data driven, agricultural techniques that are rapidly changing the way the land is being worked, and the way the land will work for us in the future.  

[Music plays and the image changes to show the Microsoft logo on a black screen]



Microsoft FarmBeats for Students is an interactive STEM education program, that provides teachers and students in Years 9 and 10 with tools to explore big data, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and IOT technologies.

2021 closed pilot

In 2021, Microsoft is partnering with CSIRO Education and Outreach to pilot Microsoft FarmBeats for Students with a small group of Australian secondary school teachers. The program will run from Term 2, 2021 and includes: teacher professional learning sessions; resources and activities; the opportunity for teachers to participate in the creation of program materials; and the opportunity for students to design and implement an inquiry project.

CSIRO will provide teacher professional learning, equipment and support for the pilot. Classroom implementation is anticipated for Term 3, 2021. 

FarmBeats curriculum 

The Microsoft FarmBeats for Students Australian program is designed by CSIRO Education and Outreach to align with the Australian Curriculum and to support inquiry learning. The program curriculum draws from the Microsoft FarmBeats for Students program in the United States which is centred on the Five Big Ideas of AI developed by the Artificial Intelligence (AI) for K-12 initiative :

FarmBeats kit

Each teacher selected for the pilot program will be given a set of Microsoft FarmBeats for Students kits to deliver the program with their class. Kits include a Raspberry Pi and sensors for soil moisture, light, ambient temperature, and humidity.

Participation requirements

Teachers selected for the closed pilot are expected to: