Pam Tipa writes in Rural News that almost $600 million flowed into the meat industry from outside New Zealand in the last 18 months.
Overseas firms looked to secure NZ beef and lamb and strengthen their global agrifood positions, says a new report.
Investors chiefly from China and Japan bought in, says the report ‘Investors Guide to the NZ Meat industry 2017’, released in June. It was commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and prepared by Coriolis.
Schneider Electric announced the success achieved with WaterForce, provider of water management and irrigation solutions in New Zealand. Schneider Electric worked with Schneider Electric.svg WaterForce to develop a cloud-based IIoT mobile-control solution, built on Microsoft Azure and Azure IoT technologies, which enables farmers to operate irrigation pivots with greater agility, efficiency and sustainability.
Agriculture accounts for nearly 70 percent of the world’s water consumption. As global food demand grows, water use is expected to rise, making efficient irrigation critical. With Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure architecture, WaterForce developed a cloud-based IIoT solution enabling farmers to monitor and control irrigation pumps and pivots from their computer, tablet or smartphone.
“Every day I adjust my pivots and pumps for a variety of reasons—shifts in the wind, rain levels, crop requirements or local regulations,” said Craig Blackburn, director/farm manager of Blackhills Farm, “Now I can monitor and control my irrigation system easily from my mobile phone, saving me hours of time not spent driving around the farm. With information at my fingertips, my farm is more productive, water and energy costs are lower and crop yields higher.”
Unique to this solution is its ability to work with a farm's existing equipment, such as irrigation and pump controllers. This means no significant capital investment is required before seeing benefits.
“Most farms are not built to handle large software installations,” said Ron McFetridge, director of WaterForce. “Using a lightweight, cloud solution with mobile capabilities has been key to expanding IoT capabilities to these farms. By leveraging our relationship with Schneider Electric, we can focus on our core business—effective water management—knowing that the information management, analytics and automation side is covered.”
WaterForce’s solution integrates multiple components of Schneider Electric’s software and hardware product portfolio, including cloud and mobility solutions, HMI/SCADA, variable speed drives and soft starters. The solution is built using Microsoft Azure IoT Hub, which includes a collection of integrated enterprise tools including devices, software, cloud, data and analytics.
“By 2050 we will need 55% more water to nourish the growing demand for food, so efficient irrigation is critical,” said Rob McGreevy, vice president of information, operations and asset management at Schneider Electric. “We believe driving operational improvements and efficiencies at these farms is a key component to sustainably feeding the planet. EcoStruxure simplifies the integration between the connected products, edge control, and apps and analytics, to provide an innovative solution that responds to the specific needs of these farmers.”
“Schneider Electric leverages Microsoft Azure and Azure IoT technologies to equip farmers with the ability to unlock new insights and make the best possible decisions in real-time around water usage and energy efficiencies,” said Sam George, director of Microsoft Azure IoT at Microsoft Corp. “We are proud to partner with Schneider Electric on a global solution that’s digitally transforming agriculture and paving the way for a sustainable future.’’
WaterSaver is a New Zealand designed and manufactured device and was the brainchild of Nelson based Jon Taylor. In this article he talks to the NZ Entrepreneur magazine on the WaterSaver's path to market [. . .]
A new research study has identified agri-business as one of the best opportunities to use the internet of things (IoT) for economic advantage in New Zealand, mainly because of the contribution that agriculture already makes to the Kiwi economy. The research study was commissioned by the New Zealand IoT Alliance, an independent member funded group of tech firms, major corporates, startups, universities and government agencies. Alliance chair and NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says agriculture is an important part of the New Zealand economy producing 40 percent of the country’s merchandise exports so agricultural productivity is critical for the economic wellbeing of all New Zealanders. While New Zealand's agricultural productivity growth is still ahead of the world average of 1.7 percent a year, it has remained relatively low at 2.5 percent between 2008-2015. Increasing use of IoT technology is needed to lift productivity. Additionally, with increasing environmental and sustainability pressures, New Zealand's farmers are looking to technology to make their operations more compliant, Muller says. “Given the scale of the estimated productivity gains across the agri-sector through better use of IoT, farmers, farm suppliers, the tech industry and Government should resolve to accelerate its uptake. “While farmers are starting to use technology, including IoT, to increase productivity and reduce costs in the face of increased competition and compliance requirements, the uptake of IoT in agriculture is relatively low across the sector as a whole. “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. “For fruit and wine growers, frost conditions can decimate acres of fruit blossom in a single cold night. To mitigate the risk of loss, IoT solutions can predict and manage frost conditions. “Farmers and growers are value purchasers. Cost is less of an issue if the value is obvious. For example, a farmer might struggle to see the value in a $20 a month phone upgrade, but have no qualms buying a $130,000 tractor. “Farmers seek decision support for farming and automation for compliance. As technology makes its way onto the fields in the future, more farm management will be done from a desk or device instead of in the field. “New Zealand pack houses, such as A. S. Wilcox and Sons, are involved in the entire supply chain of fresh vegetables including growing, picking, processing, packing and transporting. Technology has become an integral part of their success. “The Wilcox pack house uses technology to integrate operations from the field to the customer and to ensure the best product is put in the best place. Instead of people, they can send drones to check crops for quality and growth. Sensors on machinery report how much harvesters are gathering.” Embracing IoT technology may be a big cultural shift for some in the farming community yet the potential benefits are enormous, with an estimated $448 million in net benefit to New Zealand over the next 10 years from better use of IoT for water management on dairy farms alone, Muller says. Industry needs to build its credibility within farming to encourage investment in technology. While a startup company may have a good IoT product, if they have no credibility with the farming community, it will struggle to sell. Meanwhile, the extended time frame to create credibility can simply be too long.
The head of the national rural health group today made an impassioned plea for the government to consider much-needed rural research.
Michelle Thompson, chief executive of the Rural Health Alliance Aotearoa New Zealand (RHAANZ) says there is a strong feeling that rural health outcomes are poorer than urban health outcomes but until they have the hard data they can’t be sure whether there is a difference or understand the scale of the difference.
Earlier this year the RHAANZ presented its five most urgent priorities to government, one of which included comprehensive rural health research support.
“It’s been such a relief today to see the government provide a further half a million dollars for rural mental health initiatives. This is a good sign to us they agree, in the absence of hard data, this is an area of concern.”
Thompson was speaking today from the National Fieldays in Hamilton which is the biggest agricultural event in the southern hemisphere, reflecting the importance of rural industries on the NZ economy.
“Yet we know very little about the people who live and work in rural NZ from a health perspective. To do this we first need a nationally agreed definition on rurality as it pertains to health in New Zealand.
“Then we need to ensure that the Ministry of Health, the district health boards and primary health organisations use this definition to routinely report health statistics using a rural/urban comparison.
“The 49-member organisations of RHAANZ believe the lack of a fit-for-purpose definition of rural is a major stumbling block to our work and until we have such a definition that is routinely used across Government neither we, nor the government, can write informed health policy. Neither can we be sure that our precious resources are being targeted to where they are most needed.
“It is not okay that we don’t know whether our children are disadvantaged because they have poorer access to maternity and youth health services than urban children, for example.
“We just don’t know whether our outcomes for cancer are poorer because of the extra difficulties getting to chemotherapy or radiotherapy services. Logic would tell us that having to travel long distances to services would make a difference but we can’t be sure about this without a firm evidence base.
“Alongside a new definition of rural we want to see a rural proofing tool reinstated across policy development in New Zealand.
“We used to have this 10 years ago but it appears to have dropped off the scene. Rural proofing requires our policy-makers to take in to account the circumstances and needs of rural communities and rural business when developing and implementing policy before the policy is introduced.
“This is to enable any unintended consequences to be addressed before the policy is rolled out. Consideration of low population density and isolation are critical to rural proofing.
“While rural definitions and rural proofing may sound dry and boring, they are seen as absolutely essential to get right. These are the top two election issues our members took to government last month.
“Words talk but numbers shout. Without hard evidence, it’s pretty much impossible to make a case to government for additional support and resourcing for rural communities,” Thompson says.
For more information contact RHAANZ chief executive Michelle Thompson on 021 2347413 or Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188.
Modern, science-based farming is the way to achieve a future for New Zealand where dairy farming has a lower environmental footprint, says DairyNZ’s chief executive, Dr Tim Mackle.
His comment follows today’s announcement of the Dairy Action for Climate Change at National Fieldays.
The Dairy Action for Climate Change lays down the foundation to reduce greenhouse gasses on dairy farms. The plan is spearheaded by DairyNZ, which represents all dairy farmers in New Zealand, and is in partnership with Fonterra. The plan has the support of the Ministry for the Environment and the Ministry for Primary Industries.
Dr Mackle says dairy farmers, and the scientists working alongside them, are serious about improving the environment.
“This plan lays down the foundation for dairy’s sustained, strategic approach to a lower carbon future. We’re taking the first steps in understanding what dairy can do – in conjunction with the wider agricultural sector, plus industry and urban communities – to help meet New Zealand’s Paris Agreement emissions reduction target.
“Our farmers are ready to work on lowering emissions – they are used to rising to the challenge, and they’re dedicated stewards of their land who want to do the right thing by the environment.”
Dr Mackle says addressing on-farm emissions – methane, which is formed when ruminant animals burp, and nitrous oxide, formed when nitrogen escapes into the atmosphere – is one of the most challenging issues facing the dairy and food producing sectors, globally and in New Zealand.
“Tackling the reduction of on-farm emissions is not going to be easy. It requires our Government and the agricultural sector to work together, and, as such the plan is an important part of a broader work programme underway.”
Fonterra’s Chief Operating Officer Farm Source, Miles Hurrell, says it is crucial to take an integrated approach to all the challenges facing dairy – from climate change and animal welfare, to the protection of waterways – and all the while maintain productivity and the profitability of dairy.
“The plan complements the environmental commitment dairy farmers have voluntarily undertaken through their work under the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord.
“Some of their work – such as tree planting, better soil management and reducing nitrogen leaching therefore reducing the release of nitrous oxide – is already helping to address emissions. Then there are the other science-based endeavours that are well underway, like the research to breed cows that produce fewer methane emissions, and a methane inhibiting vaccine.”
Dr Mackle adds that the Dairy Action for Climate Change dovetails with the work of the Biological Emissions Reference Group (BERG), a joint sector and Government reference group. The BERG’s purpose is to build robust and agreed evidence on what the sector can do on-farm to reduce emissions, and to assess the costs and opportunities of doing so. The BERG’s final report in late 2017 will be necessary to inform future policy development on agricultural emissions.
“New Zealand’s agricultural output of greenhouse gas is accentuated because we have a relatively small population, and we are not heavily industrialised. In other countries where there are larger populations the greater contribution is from the transport, manufacturing, construction, and energy sectors.
“Our agricultural sector is a very efficient producer of high-quality food – food that feeds many millions, not only in our country, but also around the world.”
New Zealand is acknowledged as a world-leader for efficiently producing milk on a greenhouse gas per unit of milk basis, as identified in a 2010 report from the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.
Dr Mackle says this positioning is the result of New Zealand dairy cattle being healthier and largely grass fed, unlike animals in many other agricultural countries which are fed grains and other supplements that are harvested and transported. Added to this, their animals are often housed in barns, sometimes year around, not just over the winter months.
The Dairy Action for Climate Change was launched during the opening of the 49th National Fieldays by Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett.
New Zealand’s primary industries need to latch on to technology faster to support the economic growth of its agri sector and become a world leader in a fast growing agritech market, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.
NZTech members have joined hundreds of other firms at Fieldays in Hamilton this week as technology becomes increasingly important for the New Zealand agri sector.
A growing awareness of the value of technology in agriculture can be seen by the number of farmers looking into technologies such as IoT, drones, sensors and robotics, Muller says.
“A report by the IoT Alliance, due for release on June 29 looks into the economic value that IoT could bring the New Zealand economy, has identified that better use of IoT by dairy farmers could potentially generate as much as $448 million worth of net economic benefit for New Zealand.
“For example, even firms like Xero have identified how effective business processes are now critical for modern farmers promoting Xero Farming. Xero Farming in the Cloud delivers New Zealand farmers with a tool for effective farm management. Xero is delivering a farming eco-system of partners which will connect farmers with digital tools to save time.”
New Zealand is achieving good agritech export growth rates relative to other nations. Global agritech investment is expanding rapidly, with investment in agritech firms in 2014 was estimated at over $US2.36 billion making investment in agritech higher than fintech.
“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,” Muller says.
“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 initiatives such as the Dairy Data Network and Agrigate.
“Production costs have placed pressure on the competitive position of New Zealand agriculture in world markets. Reversing a slowdown in productivity growth is critical given the challenges the sector faces with strengthening environmental regulation.
“Digital agriculture, in the form of precision farming, big data, sensor technology and drones, delivers a new potential for productivity gains across rural New Zealand,” he says.
The tech sector is the country’s third largest and fastest growing export sector, worth over $6.3 billion in 2015 and employing 5 percent of the New Zealand workforce.
The new John Deere 4640 Universal Display raises the bar for performance, uptime and cost of operation as part of the latest John Deere Generation 4 Operating System. For customers, this translates into better data collection, increased application functionality, and greater choice for monitoring and managing many tractor-driven field operations.
The new 4640 Universal Display enables customers to use the most common and popular John Deere applications, including AutoTrac™, documentation, and Section Control, in a portable display that has the latest internal components, design and user interface.
"The new 4640 Universal Display provides a transportable, easy-to-operate solution for customers with the John Deere Generation 4 operating system," says John Mishler, production and precision ag marketing manager for John Deere. "Some enhancements built into the display include more on-screen help and diagnostic information to keep operators running and informed of their display capabilities; simplified Work Setup app with page-by-page navigation; and greater user customization of run pages."
When it comes to performance, the 4640 Universal Display provides improved documentation for high-speed planting and nutrient applications, coupled with the latest data syncing functionalities for increased on-board/off-board flexibility. Additional enhancements include the ability to more accurately map and operate Section Control to precisely apply multiple products simultaneously with individual coverage maps and application points.
The display is designed to import new customer and product information without the risk of overwriting existing client/farm/field and guidance line information. It also has an expanded suite of Precision Ag Core applications, including AutoTrac, Section Control and documentation, as well as wireless data transfer (WDT) with the “data sync” feature for automatic transmission of work documentation to the John Deere Operations Center.
The time it takes operators to set up and start up the display has been reduced and display navigation has been improved. This equates to more uptime for the user, as a quickly learnable display results in reduced training time, more time working, and fewer operator mistakes.
Cost of operation also is lower with the 4640 Display. Improved Gen 4 applications such as AutoTrac, Section Control, and documentation increase customer profitability by helping users work more efficiently, reduce overlap and skips, and maximize inputs and field operations. Combined with Gen 4 Section Control, operators can optimize field performance using distance and speed-based turning with the ability to dial in more quickly and accurately the desired settings.
In addition, a power button has been added to the back of the 4640 Display so operators can shut the display off or reboot without powering down the tractor. The display is compatible with the Gen 4 Extended Monitor, which increases the number of run pages visible to the operator, giving easier access to more operation information.
Mishler adds that precision ag software for the display is available as either one- or five-year subscription durations and in two levels, either AutoTrac only or as Precision Ag Core that includes not only AutoTrac but also documentation and Section Control. This gives customers the flexibility to match the right software subscription level and duration to their needs.
"John Deere is the only supplier to offer machine-based precision ag subscriptions that allow customers to select the software they want and the duration of the subscription," he explains. "This gives customers a lower cost of entry into these precision ag applications and the ability to try new applications without having to buy permanent software licenses."
The 4640 Universal Display is available to order now. It is compatible with John Deere 30-Series to the latest 6R, 7R, 8R and 9R Series Tractors, as well as AutoTrac Universal and AutoTrac Controller compatible competitive tractors. Software update 17-2 is required for functionality. Precision ag application compatibility for implements and controllers, and for general applications, is limited to the latest Gen 4 OS software available.
Synlait Milk (NZX: SML; ASX: SM1) has welcomed Antony Moess to the Senior Leadership Team as General Manager, Manufacturing.
With more than 20 years’ international experience in the dairy industry, Mr Moess has worked in a number of countries including New Zealand, South East Asia and the Middle East.
"Antony has held a number of senior roles throughout his career and we are looking look forward to utilising that experience in our Senior Leadership Team," says John Penno, Managing Director and CEO.
Most recently Mr Moess was based in Singapore as Fonterra Brand’s General Manager Operations and Supply Chain for Asia, Middle East and Africa.
He was responsible for the strategy and performance of manufacturing and supply chains across nine operating companies and in this role he implemented best practice manufacturing systems and processes across the region.
Prior to this he spent several years overseeing the manufacturing network strategy and operations excellence programs for 29 sites, nine of which were third party manufacturers.
"Antony has a real passion for leading manufacturing operations. His vast experience will add to our existing capability and his ability to focus on both his team and operational demands will be well received," said Dr Penno.
Mr Moess holds a Bachelor of Food Technology and a Post Graduate Diploma of Business and Administration from Massey University.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy has welcomed the latest progress report of the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord project, showing dairy farmers have now fenced off over 97 per cent of waterways.
“The Water Accord is a voluntary project led by the industry to improve farming practices and water quality. This Year Three update shows a range of targets have been achieved, including stock exclusion from 26,197 km of measured waterways which is the equivalent of Auckland to Chicago and back again,” says Mr Guy.
“99.4 per cent of regular stock crossing points on dairy farms now have bridges or culverts to protect local water quality, and over 10 million dollars has been spent on environmental stewardship and farmer support programmes.
“9,517 nutrient budgets were processed and nitrogen information provided to farmers, representing 83% of the industry.
“Dairy farmers deserve credit for the leadership they have shown in recent years. There has been a major reduction in pollution entering our lakes and rivers from dairy sheds, factories and town effluent systems.
“From the Government side, a huge amount of work has generated new rules, standards and monitoring which simply didn’t exist 10 years ago. This includes new regulations to keep livestock out of waterways to reduce E.coli and improve water quality.
“Achieving our goal of 90% swimmability by 2040 will be a long-term project. It will take decades because water quality issues have built up over decades and there is no quick fix.
“There are still challenges ahead but we are going to achieve it in a practical, realistic and sustainable way that doesn’t ruin our economy at the same time. This is a long term issue and we’re all in it together.”
The Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord was launched in July 2013 setting out the dairy industry’s commitment to New Zealand and improving water quality.
It includes a set of national good management practice benchmarks aimed at lifting environmental performance on dairy farms, along with commitments to targeted riparian planting plans, effluent management, comprehensive standards for new dairy farms and measures to improve the efficiency of water and nutrient use on farms.
It has been developed with the input of farmers, dairy companies, central Government, regional councils and the Federation of Māori Authorities.