A big challenge New Zealand faces is capturing the value consumers place on grass-fed products, says NZ Grassland Association president Dr David Stevens, a senior scientist at AgResearch.
It will identify the barriers to taking up new digital technologies on and off the farm, and will develop a technology ‘roadmap’ to support the industry’s transition.
AgResearch research director Greg Murison says many farmers are already using technologies such as sensors on their farms connected to their mobile phones or devices.
However, he believes there is enormous potential for uptake of other new tools, and digital platforms that can bring together and analyse large amounts of data from different sources onfarm to guide decisionmaking.
“There are huge gains on offer from digital agriculture in terms of productivity, the environments we farm in and pressures on farmers,” Murison says.
“It’s crucial that NZ, as an agricultural nation and exporter, stays ahead of the game. We want to support the industries as best we can.
“We believe our programme will be among the first of its kind where a system-wide analysis of digital agriculture has been done in NZ. There are a lot of smart people and companies developing these new digital tools for farmers.”
Murison says AgResearch’s role is looking at the big picture of adoption across NZ and how best to measure and interpret the data essential to the operation of these tools.
“We are already collecting data from our Tokanui research farm, where for example we are digitally tracking the movements and behaviour of cows,” he explains.
“We are also testing and trialling new technologies that become available to see how they can be integrated into NZ farming systems, and what value they can bring for our farmers.”
AgResearch has recently worked with Australian firm Agersens to trial its new virtual fencing technology in NZ. This uses collars on livestock that enable farmers to restrict, move and monitor stock from anywhere and anytime via an app.