Farmer-owned organisation Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) has unveiled plans for a 'Future Farm' in which it will trial new technologies and farm systems in a bid to support farming excellence and lift farm productivity and profitability.
B+LNZ says Future Farm, which will be a hill country sheep and beef property with around 6,000 animals, will operate as a fully commercial livestock farming enterprise and feature state of the art monitoring, measuring and communications technologies.
B+LNZ is working with agribusiness company AbacusBio to get the farm up and running. An innovation and advisory team will be established to guide implementation.
Richard Wakelin, B+LNZ general manager innovation, said the Future Farm would aim to exceed existing high-performance standards in a range of areas including economics, people, animal, environmental and forages.
“We also want to test new farming systems and technologies that might be unproven or too higher risk for most farmers,” he said. “The aim is for farmers to be able to observe, learn, and assess the feasibility of how these might be applied in their own situation.”
He added: “We’ll be measuring everything to ensure we can answer the key questions that farmers and others have. … We’ll also be looking to involve government, research organisations, and commercial partners to bring both expertise and resources and I’m happy to talk to people about the opportunities.”
According to B+LNZ a number of farming organisations are operating similar models in New Zealand and Australia, but its smart farm will be the first for the New Zealand sheep and beef sector.
“Australia’s University of New England’s successful Smartfarm is one example. In New Zealand, Lincoln University and the dairy sector have developed the Lincoln Dairy Unit, which has been a valuable resource for dairy farmers to witness first-hand the commercial application of new technologies and systems,” B+LNZ said.
NZ Government smart ag initiative
In November 2016 The New Zealand Government set up a technical advisory group to advise the Ministry of Primary Industries on how to accelerate the use of smart agriculture technology.
Primary industries minister, Nathan Guy, said at the time: “Technology has major potential to support higher productivity and more sustainable use of natural resources in farming. It can be used in a wide range of applications such as using soil moisture sensors to fine-tune irrigation, monitoring animal health and fertility, and determining the perfect time to harvest fruit and crops. Monitoring and measuring is now an important part of managing natural resources sustainably.”
Aussie beef and sheep farming gets smart
Last month a research initiative by the Australian Meat and Livestock Assocation, a marketing and research and development services for Australia's cattle, sheep and goat producers, was named winner of Hitachi’s inaugural transformation award at its NEXT 2017 conference in Las Vegas for its use of Hitachi technologies to accelerate business transformation, improve user experience, innovate with data and enable IoT.
MLA R&D manager, Dr Nigel Tomkins, said the organisation was applying a variety of technologies across the entire production chain from selecting breeding pairs to the delivery of meat products to consumers with the aim of improving efficiency, product quality and product provenance.