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Smart tools, robots and the food revolution

uesday 18 June, 2019

Smart tools, robots and the food revolution – future of tech a hot topic at Horticultural Field Days

A lot can change in 10 years – especially in the horticulture sector.

With BNZ National Horticultural Field Days just over a week away, excitement is mounting at what will be shared, learned and discovered at the two-day event.

Di Roadley, Event Manager for the Field Days – which celebrates its first decade in 2019 – says with a busy programme of ticketed events from midday on Wednesday 26 to the afternoon of Thursday 27 June, topics will cover everything from aerial technology and its applications, to robotic harvesters, to how the education sector is preparing to support the horticulture sector into the future.

“Particularly here in Hawke’s Bay, almost every business is in some way connected to horticulture,” says Di.

“We think these are the most beneficial two days you can spend outside of your business – two days that will really add value to what you do. And we hope businesses will invite their teams to come too – it’s hugely motivational for staff to learn what is happening in our sector, how their workplace might look another ten years from now, what tech they might be mastering, and how our education providers will be adapting their training modules so horticulture is ready for what’s ahead.”

BNZ National Horticultural Field Days started life in 2009 as the Hawke’s Bay Fruitgrower of the Year, then developed into Eastern Horticultural Field Days and finally, into what it is now – a national event with a Hawke’s Bay focus, held at the A&P Showgrounds, Tomoana. “Over the last two years it has doubled in size, and we have worked incredibly hard to create a series of events within the Field Days that are both learning and networking opportunities for businesses and their teams.”

For the first time, Field Days will be spread over two days, in order to pack in the volume of appealing events on offer. Wednesday begins with the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council luncheon, featuring speaker Steve Carden, Pamū CEO. “Steve is incredibly experienced in all aspects of farming and has an interesting take on the future of food,” Di says. “He’ll offer his views on how horticulture can best approach a number of social, environmental and consumer considerations, as the nutrition revolution fast approaches!”

There’s a free ticketed event to follow – the Tech and Innovation Symposium features a raft of speakers from every corner of the industry. “We’ll see some great insight into the realities and challenges of T&G’s much-lauded robotic apple picker, we’ll discuss fully automated packhouses with Compac and the staggering impact it’s had on businesses, and precision application of fertiliser – how to achieve less wastage and environmental benefits – which will be hugely applicable to attendees.”

An After Five function is the perfect opportunity for networking. “We hope to see attendees come for lunch, stay for the amazing speakers at the symposium then have a beer and a chat at the After Five evening.”

On Thursday, BNZ’s Chief Economist Tony Alexander hosts a ‘Power Breakfast’ from 7am, which is followed by Horticulture’s Big Debate. The moot might be a closely guarded secret but the panel is not, says Di, with lively involvement from the likes of Government ministers and industry giants.

Catering for all events is provided by Orton’s Tailored Cuisine, and tickets range from just $20 to $25 each.

“This is our biggest Field Days yet,” Di says, “and we’re thrilled with the events on offer. The exposure our attendees will have to all the new-to-market tech currently available is fantastic. We’re expecting a full, really diverse, interesting two days of learning and inspiration.”

Tickets are available at Eventfinda:


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