Farmer-owned co-operative Ravensdown has introduced a set of online benchmarking and forecasting tools that it says will help farmers make smarter nutrient decisions by showing planned versus actual nutrient investments over time.
The service, HawkEye, is underpinned by decision support technology from another New Zealand company, Farmax, launched in 1993 and based on technology developed by AgResearch. Farmax is claimed to “give farmers a truly unique advantage, because it accurately models the complex biological system that is pastoral farming.”
Ravensdown says HawkEye will integrate three perspectives of pasture production: imagery from the air; nutrient input and pasture quantity on the ground; diagnostic status of the soil. The technology will be open to any farmer to use, not only Ravensdown shareholders.
Ravensdown says farmers will eventually be able to use HawkEye for: forecasting available feed; benchmarking pasture production; mapping and monitoring spreading or spraying; monitoring and improving soil fertility; analysing nitrogen efficiency and demonstrating environmental performance
Data output from HawkEye will use DataLinker, a secure, standardised, data transfer system for the primary sector developed by DairyNZ, Red Meat Profit Partnership and the Ministry for Primary Industries that will enables farmers to use the output from HawkEye with other systems. “Certain data and map elements could be exported to GPS or C-Dax devices [such as spreaders and spayers]” Ravensdown says.
Ravensdown’s general manager for customer relationships, Bryan Inch, said the challenge facing modern farming was to avoid drowning in a sea of data.
“There is already plenty of information being captured and that will only increase into the future. Sensors on irrigators, farm gates, spreading trucks and silos complement wearable technology on animals, soil tests and aerial pasture scanning.
“The difficulty for a farmer is making sense of what all those sensors are telling them and seeing the impact of their decisions. They need to turn information into insight and insight into action,” he said.
The beta version of HawkEye was previewed at this year’s Fielday agricultural event Mystery Creek and will be used to seek feedback so farmer input can be factored into the rollout.