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Technology transforming the primary sector

Technology transforming the primary sector

Solving rural producers’ challenges and improving productivity through technology will be key themes at next year’s MobileTECH 2019. Now in its 7th year, MobileTECH will, once again, bring together the agritech leaders, tech developers, industry corporates and early adopters to Rotoura.

“New Zealand’s agritech sector is quickly expanding and the technology is world-class,” said Ken Wilson, programme manager for MobileTECH 2019. “While we have seen some great advances in sensors and robotics, it’s the software that’s making big strides.”

A recent IDC study, commissioned by Microsoft, showed that digital products and services will make up 55% of New Zealand’s GDP by 2021. Over this time, digital transformation will be providing better margins for companies and its estimated will have added over NZ$10 billion to NZ’s national GDP.

What’s striking is the speed and widespread impact of change, forcing many traditional companies to evolve with it. Digital technologies leading this charge include innovations like mobility, cloud computing, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence.

This comes off the back of a report last year by the Massey Business School, which examined the impact of cloud computing and other disruptive technologies on the agricultural sector. After interviewing technologists and agri-food producers, there was a wide gap in how these two groups perceived the industry into the future.

Lead researcher, Professor Stephen Kelly, was quoted as saying, “what the agrifood sector is currently doing is brilliant, they are agile, very accepting of new technology and continually looking for better ways of doing things. But most aren’t visualising what the industry will look like in 10 years time.”

This could have major implications for the sector.

Globally, there are 2.5 quintillion bytes of data created every day. Over 90% of the world's data has been created within the last two years. Technologies like the Internet of Things will dramatically increase these numbers. The problem is no longer about how to collect data - its how to get the right answers at the right time for the right purpose.

Our farms and worksites are becoming more connected than ever and we are rapidly accumulating data. Remote sensors are in our fields, GPS units track our vehicles, UAVs and satellites provide imagery data and electronic tagging is optimising distribution. The primary sector now has more data points than can be comprehended. The demand is now not just technology, but how to get the right analysis, recommendations and application.

“Tech developers see software advances and hands-on collaboration with local producers as the key ingredients going forward,” said Mr Wilson. “With the central theme for MobileTECH 2019 being ‘data with purpose’, we will be highlighting a number of case studies where new tools are created alongside the farmer, grower, orchardist or forestry managers.”

The MobileTECH 2019 programme will be out in November, with the event running on 3-4 April 2019 in Rotorua, New Zealand. Further details can be found on the event website, www.mobiletech.events.

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