NZ IoT Alliance seeks arable farming solutions

RFI for government-backed pilot

A Request For Information (RFI) to take part in a pilot project demonstrating the benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT) when applied to arable farming has been issued by the New Zealand IoT Alliance.

Alliance executive director Kriv Naicker says the arable farming IoT pilot is being undertaken with support from government agencies such as the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, as well as the Foundation for Arable Research (FAR).

Naicker announced the pilot project at the IoT Day in Auckland, and says it will be carried out in Canterbury, and undertaken on a site administered by FAR. The RFI, which is being sent to New Zealand IoT Alliance’s membership of over 40 organisations, is seeking feedback from IoT companies able to form a consortium that can create a range of solutions.

The Alliance is looking for a variety of businesses to participate in the pilot project - from international companies to small start-ups. “We don’t want someone to come in and do everything and it’s all locked up, we want openness,” he says.

“Ultimately the pilot will bring together all vendors of technology to design solutions that work for farmers. The downstream effect should be better working relationships across industry, new and novel IoT solutions built with and for farmers that make a proven positive impact.”

The arable farming community was chosen for the pilot project because “from an agritech perspective arable farming has been a little bit down the chain in terms of agritech stimulus, as compared to dairy farming and some of the other parts of agriculture.”

Naicker says that the “data that’s extracted from this pilot will be fed into various government channels to look at what stimulus is required to help arable farming communities.”

When asked by Computerworld about funding for the pilot project, Naicker says that there isn’t a funding model at this stage, and that they would look for the pilot participants to fund their own pilot initiatives.

Naicker is bullish about the benefits of IoT when applied to the agricultural sector in general. “A major study into the potential benefits of IoT last year found that better use of IoT across agriculture could provide more than $570 million for the economy,” he says.

“There is no dispute that using IoT systems to augment the intuition of the farmer will have a huge impact in terms of improving productivity on the farm and improving its environmental and sustainability performance. There is the ability to grow more while using less in a way that the community will find more acceptable.”

The arable farming pilot is the first project undertaken as part of the NZ IoT Alliance’s working group with MBIE, and Naicker says if it proves to be a “sustainable approach” they would look to do similar projects in other sectors such as transport and tourism.

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