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Thursday, 16 September 2021 15:55

Looking to upgrade?

Written by  Staff Reporters
Depending on your aims, you will have different levels of interaction with your technology. Depending on your aims, you will have different levels of interaction with your technology.

Technology is constantly evolving, meaning products change quickly so you need to ensure improvements and upgrades are yielding value from day one. When looking at on farm upgrades, WaterForce suggests that the following are key questions in your investment research:

What do I already have on farm and am I making use of this?

A wide range of products exist on many pivot or linear-irrigated farms already. Are you using these to their full potential? Making the mot of these can help you understand your next investments and what will give you the best yields in the future.

Is the hardware/product I'm looking at aligned with future product upgrades on my irrigator?

Many irrigators in NZ are over 10 years old now. In many cases these units will continue to operate for many more years, but will need replacement at some point. If you are investing in upgrades today, consider the age of your fleet and what products would be installed if critical hardware on them failed tomorrow.

What are the critical 'wins' I want from technology?

Is it improved production? Reduced water use? More time off farm whilst keeping an eye on what's happening? Do you need additional information to support your decision making? Are you after reduced fuel usage or lower power bills? Listing your aims can help clarify what's important today, and in the future.

What lifespan do I want from technology and what should its 'whole of life cost' be?

Products available vary in design, specification, capital and running cost. Discuss running costs vs capital cost, product lifespan expectations, and upgrade paths with your suppliers. Changes to the cellular network can add costs down the line (3G technology will be switched off in the not-too-distant future).

Radio mesh networks and the newer cellular communications products (Lora/Sigfox/NB-IOT) can often appeal with lower running costs. However, they can have limitations in the information they can transmit; or be at risk of one part breaking down and all parts of your system failing and losing critical data/services, until they are replaced.

Bleeding edge vs leading edge?

NZ is seen as a quick adopter of tech and this often leads to new products being released here first.

Ensure you understand the products you are looking at. Being the first customer in the region with products suits some growers, whilst others prefer the tried-and-true approach. Understand the partners and their products before you invest.

What do I need to do to make best use of this technology?

Depending on your aims, you will have different levels of interaction with your technology. The automated farm is several years away. For now, decision making about best use of technology on farm, saving power, reduction of water usage etc relies on the farmer. The technolody supports the decisions, but the farmer remains critical to getting the best production, for the lowest cost and environmental impact. Understand who in your team will help make best use of this investment.

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