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NZ agriculture needs to latch onto tech faster

June 14, 2017

New Zealand’s primary industries need to latch on to technology faster to support the economic growth of its agri sector and become a world leader in a fast growing agritech market, NZTech chief executive Graeme Muller says.

NZTech members have joined hundreds of other firms at Fieldays in Hamilton this week as technology becomes increasingly important for the New Zealand agri sector.

A growing awareness of the value of technology in agriculture can be seen by the number of farmers looking into technologies such as IoT, drones, sensors and robotics, Muller says.

“A report by the IoT Alliance, due for release on June 29 looks into the economic value that IoT could bring the New Zealand economy, has identified that better use of IoT by dairy farmers could potentially generate as much as $448 million worth of net economic benefit for New Zealand.

“For example, even firms like Xero have identified how effective business processes are now critical for modern farmers promoting Xero Farming. Xero Farming in the Cloud delivers New Zealand farmers with a tool for effective farm management. Xero is delivering a farming eco-system of partners which will connect farmers with digital tools to save time.”

New Zealand is achieving good agritech export growth rates relative to other nations. Global agritech investment is expanding rapidly, with investment in agritech firms in 2014 was estimated at over $US2.36 billion making investment in agritech higher than fintech.

“With our traditional strengths in agriculture and our growing strengths in tech, this is an opportunity we should pursue with vigour. Agriculture is a big user and creator of technology,” Muller says.

“Tech sector innovations are being adopted in many agricultural areas with examples such as the application of precision agriculture on-farm and industry-wide information capture and utilisation through activities such as the development of initiatives such as the Dairy Data Network and Agrigate.

“Production costs have placed pressure on the competitive position of New Zealand agriculture in world markets. Reversing a slowdown in productivity growth is critical given the challenges the sector faces with strengthening environmental regulation.

“Digital agriculture, in the form of precision farming, big data, sensor technology and drones, delivers a new potential for productivity gains across rural New Zealand,” he says.

The tech sector is the country’s third largest and fastest growing export sector, worth over $6.3 billion in 2015 and employing 5 percent of the New Zealand workforce.

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