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Innovation Crucial for Farmers

Wellington, Tuesday 15 May – NZ Tech company, Regen, says the future of New Zealand’s food production hinges on farmers reducing their environmental footprint, and harnessing technology to innovate their farming practice.

Significant changes for the agricultural sector have been signaled by the Environment Minister David Parker, with the goal of improving water quality, including; changes to the Resource Management Act, introducing nutrient levels for waterways, and a cap is likely on the number of dairy cows in New Zealand. He has also recognised the need to invest in, and subsidise, new technology to help farmers meet their requirements.

Regen, a leading Kiwi agri-tech company uses science and real-time data to help Kiwi farmers better manage water use, effluent and reduce nitrate leaching. Bridgit Hawkins, CEO, believes it’s positive the Government recognises the role technology plays in making our agricultural sector more sustainable, but believes more needs to be done in this area.

“We need to invest more into the application of science to farming - to help farmers work through what is a complex and uncertain time, while meeting their resource consents. The industry needs to be ready to meet future requirements; it’s predicted the world will have to feed 9.1 billion people by 2050. Kiwi farmers feed Kiwi families and several million other families every day, and transparency in the field to fork process is becoming more critical” says Bridgit Hawkins.

Many farmers are already working hard to better manage water use and nitrate leaching, but the sector would benefit from Government support.

“When farmers can make full use of the science and technologies available to them, it benefits not only their farm but the wider community. For example, our farmers get on average a five to one return when closely monitoring key farm measures like soil moisture - in practical terms this means they know exactly when they need to water and how much because we take into account weather and soil conditions. We also help farmers accurately determine the right time to apply nitrogen fertiliser, reducing leaching. All of this improves the quality of our waterways.

“In communities where water is a hotly contested topic, this provides a new level of transparency while connecting farmers more closely with their pastures. We need to see more investment from the Government into the practical application of science and technology to support farmers, who are the backbone of our economy”

The Land and Water Forum is due to report to the Government on new water quality and nitrate levels on 31 May, which will likely form the basis of a renewed National Policy Statement on Water, consulted on in the latter part of 2018.


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