Better use of the Internet of Things by dairy farmers could potentially generate $448 million net economic benefit for New Zealand. That’s according to Lauren Salisbury, from Momenta Partners, a company that is investing in early stage IoT applications globally.
Salisbury was the opening speaker at the IoT Day in Auckland this morning, one of 60 events taking place globally to mark World IoT Day. The event is being attended by around 70 people representing start-ups, government agencies and potential investors.
Salisbury says agritech is booming globally as feeding the world’s growing population becomes a more challenging problem. A major advantage for New Zealand in developing IoT applications is connectivity, with the investment in the past decade in broadband infrastructure through the Ultra Fast Broadband and Rural Broadband Initiatives.
Salisbury makes the point that “anything can be connected, but connectivity does not necessarily drive profit, and it can be hard to understand that in a business context.” She pointed to a Cisco survey in May 2017 which shows that 60% of IoT initiatives fail at the proof of concept.
No doubt intending to be one the IoT applications that succeeds is Halter, an IoT solution that enables farmers to remotely maintain dairy herds. It was founded by Craig Piggott, who previously worked at Rocket Lab, and is VC funded out of New Zealand and the U.S. It is currently at the testing phase.
Catherine Moreau-Hammond says the company is developing a band that goes around the cow’s neck so that the farmer can manage its location, as well as monitor its physical wellbeing and location. The cow is trained using a “small shock component” to respond to sound, and that enables the farmer to move the animal remotely for circumstances such as if the cow strays into a water way or it needs to be moved to fresh feed.
As the technology is developed the data generated by each cow is feed into algorithms being developed by Halter, what the company terms a ‘cowgorithm’.
Moreau-Hammond says Halter’s technology is designed to assist in the creation of the “modern farm” by reducing labour, increaseing milk production, enhancing animal welfare, and protecting the environment. It will also provide lifestyle benefits by “giving farmers back part of their day”.
Other Agritech applications showcased this morning were Metris, an integrated application for tailored weather information that is currently used by over 1000 people, HiveSafe, which looks to create a way to remotely monitor’s New Zealand’s 600,000 beehives which are “easy to stead, hard to recover”, and Econode which is remote pest management monitoring system on the Great Barrier Island, Kapiti Island and soon to be on the mainland.