It was a first for New Zealand winegrowers, and an impressive welcome to overseas visitors.
So says Andy Lowe, chief executive of farm management software provider Agrimap, an exhibitor at the East Coast Farming with Technology Expo to be held in Wairoa on April 13-14.
"Farming is tough – long hours, labour shortages, rising costs and falling prices. We all know this. It's happening across the world, not just on the East Coast," Lowe says. As a New Zealand-based but global company, we owe it NZ farmers to help them deal with these challenges.
Lowe says Agrimap's presence at the expo will show people that adopting innovation is easy. You don't even need to know how to use a computer.
"Apps are the way of the future, and the faster you get on board the sooner you'll reap the benefits."
Cloud-based technology such as Agrimap is one of the key interest areas covered at the two-day expo designed to bring innovation and technology to the doorstep of East Coast farmers.
Gretchen King from Agrecord said it uses technology to replace the pen and paper operations of old by replicating preferred systems and reproducing them online.
"Not only does this mean that information can't get misplaced, soggy or simply relegated to the 'too hard basket', but it also means that the information is able to be captured at the touch of a button and stored somewhere central so that everyone involved can access and contribute to it."
Agrecord will demonstrate its programme Cloud Farmer, which captures everything from stock records to weekly planning details. They've also hinted at a new offline app described as being "shepherd proof".
"If farmers are not trying to constantly refine and improve the way they run their business, then they're going to be left behind. Embrace technology while you can, because like it or not it's quickly becoming the norm."
Farm advisory businesses are also pushing out cloud-based technology to clients.
BDO Gisborne's Charles Rau said his firm will demonstrate tools and knowledge that make a significant difference to farming.
"It is important that farmers are aware of what is available in technology and support, and that they have resources available to help them. Quality and up-to-date systems are important to the degree that they provide quality information that help farmers in their decision making. Infrastructure and farming practice aside, our role is support and strategy; technology helps us have the right conversations with our clients."
The accountancy firm says the biggest change in their sector is that technology has enabled them to move from a compliance role to an advisory role.
Chris Guillemot, principal and agribusiness specialist of Hawke's Bay accounting and advisory firm Crowe Horwath said another key aspect of the increasing role of cloud-based technology was the changing demographics of farmers.
"The next-generation owner has more of an appetite to use and embrace the new technologies," he says.
"The uptake in the use of technology on farm is increasing exponentially and we, as key advisors, need to be aware of the issues and options in the market for clients.
"With our relationships across the industry, region and a wide range of clients, the Expo provides the perfect setting for us to share our knowledge in this area and also to gain an understanding of the issues in the East Coast sheep and beef industry."
For more information, including ticket sales and how to register as an exhibitor, visit: www.eastcoastexpo.co.nz