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AgritechNZ to unleash major initiative to boost production

AgritechNZ to unleash major initiative to boost production

June 6, 2019

A three-year New Zealand agritech initiative designed to validate new technologies in nutrient analysis, delivery, efficient uptake, and environmental mitigation will be launched at the national Fieldays at Mystery Creek near Hamilton next Thursday.

AgritechNZ chief executive Peter Wren-Hilton says New Zealand is taking a global lead on bringing cutting-edge technology to Kiwi farming and the Agritech Unleashed summit on June 13 is a crucial step toward that goal.

“This major project will bring together widespread knowledge and resources to advance the mission of Farm2050 so we can help feed the planet sustainably and affordably,” he says.

“With the need to feed the world’s population of 9.8 billion people by 2050, AgritechNZ is looking at ways New Zealand can scale up its food production to meet the growing global demand.

“Global food systems will need to transform at an unprecedented speed and scale so this event next week will seek to explore and confirm the power of innovation and technology to meet the greater demand on food production,” he says.

“We also have to take into account sustainability and climate change; healthy diets, meat alternatives and nutrition; market efficiency; and shaping a national strategy for the future of food.”

“Increasing scrutiny of environmental impact on farms has raised the need for remediation and analytics to meet increasing and stricter regulatory requirements.

“Growth in the New Zealand dairy sector since the mid-1980s has seen nitrogen fertiliser use increase 10 times, while farm energy inputs doubled over the last 20 years and has led to a negative regulatory and public reaction to fertiliser over-use.’’

At Agritech Unleashed, leading global experts will be outlining the three-year agritech initiative and why New Zealand will be taking a lead role and how players in the nutrient sector in New Zealand can take part.

Among the heavyweight speakers are Sara Ahmed-Holman, of Eric Schmidt’s (former chief executive and chair of Google) investment vehicle, Innovation Endeavor.

Other international agritech specialists include Alexey Rostapshov, global head of Digital Innovation, John Deere and Michael Levin, founder and managing director of Germin8.

If New Zealand’s agritech community is serious about supporting farmers and growers address some of the major environmental impacts necessary to continue to secure the social license needed to operate, this initiative will go a long way down that path, Wren-Hilton says.

“As Farm2050’s first country partner, New Zealand has a pivotal role to play. We have advanced farming systems and deep domain knowledge.

“We produce some of the finest agricultural product in the world, yet our farmers and growers are well aware of the regulatory environment in which they now operate. Consumer concerns about environmental impact, and government regulation are all affecting sentiment within the primary sector,” he says.

The New Zealand tech sector is the country’s third largest and fastest growing export sector, worth over $6.3 billion in 2015 and employing more than six percent of the New Zealand workforce.

AgritechNZ is part of the NZ Tech Alliance.

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