NZTech and Precision Agriculture team to push precision agriculture

According to NZTech, New Zealand is achieving good agritech export growth rates relative to other nations

The New Zealand Technology Industry Association (NZTech) has formed an alliance with Precision Agriculture Association NZ to help New Zealand’s agriculture sector make the most of technology.

NZTech chief executive, Graeme Muller, said New Zealand had an enormous opportunity to use technology as a means to support the economic growth of its agriculture sector and become a world leader in a fast growing agritech market.

According to NZTech, New Zealand is achieving good agritech export growth rates relative to other nations. “Global agritech investment is expanding rapidly, with VC investment in agritech firms in 2014 estimated at over $US2.36 billion making investment in agritech higher than fintech,” it said.

Muller said: “With our traditional strengths in agriculture and our growing strengths in tech, this is an opportunity we should pursue with vigour. Agriculture is a big user and creator of technology.

“Tech sector innovations are being adopted in many agricultural areas with examples such as the application of precision agriculture on-farm and industry-wide information capture and utilisation through activities such as the development of the Dairy Data Network.”

Precision Agriculture NZ claims to connect participants in the precision agriculture value chain to one common organisation; land users, researchers, commercial companies, regional councils, primary industry organisations, rural professionals and students.

Its chairman, Craige Mackenzie, said there was an increasing focus on the uptake of technologies in land-based primary production systems, developing initiatives to promote and support the allocation of additional funding for research and the development of precision agriculture technologies, building capability within the sector and promoting adoption of precision agriculture through industry events, symposiums and field days.

“We believe both organisations working together will contribute to the future prosperity and success of the New Zealand economy and particularly with the profile and sustainability of NZ primary sector exports,” Mackenzie says.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is seen as having huge potential in agriculture. IoT technology company, Ayla, has suggested that agriculture could be “The first big industrial IoT market.” It argues: “Rising prices of fertiliser and electricity, combined with regulations limiting irrigation are placing increasing demands on farmers to more precisely utilise their resources. Reducing spoilage and food waste will require both better in-field monitoring as well as better monitoring and management within the field-to-shelf supply chain. It is a world where deadline pressures, a lack of information and conquering the challenges of time and distance confront individuals on a daily basis.”

Read more: Internet of Things spectrum: Cool, hot to extreme

In Europe governments are taking concerted action to explore the application of IoT to agriculture under the concept of ‘precision farming’. In February 2105, Forbes magazine reported: “The European Union has sponsored several projects on the topic [precision farming] during the Seventh Framework Programme and, now, during under Horizon 2020. The currently running EU-PLF project for instance, is designed to look at the feasibility of bringing proven and cost-effective precision livestock farming tools from the lab to the farm.”

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