It's the challenge: getting food enough for 9 billion people, from less land and water, and in a hotter climate. The World Bank is excited about the potential of a Tasmanian trial, dubbed the Sense-T project, to help farmers boost productivity by installing a network of solar-powered, wireless sensors providing real-time, open data on micro-climate variables like temperature, humidity and soil moisture.

Information from the Australian-made sensors -- typically, some 35 above-ground and 15 below-ground sensors will suffice to cover 130 hectares -- will be analysed using big data technology pioneered by Sydney-based SIRCA, originally the Securities Institute Research Centre of Asia-Pacific.

SIRCA is an Australian success story that manages the world's biggest repository of financial data, taking in 2 million pieces of data per second from 300 stock exchanges globally. SIRCA sells data to major financial traders and the likes of Thomson Reuters, and funnels the revenue back into research.