AgriTechNZ chief executive Brendan O’Connell

The future of agriculture is in the hands of technology according to AgriTechNZ chief executive Brendan O’Connell.

With exports of agricultural technologies growing and many of those technologies transforming the face of agriculture and horticulture, it has the potential to inject a massive impetus into New Zealand says O’Connell.

“The technologies behind our genetic gains, farm modeling and management systems have enabled the growth of our primary industries. Now new tools are building on these digital foundations to drive the next levels of productivity and sustainability on farm.

“We are seeing the use of environmental sensors to quickly identify and manage a range of farm issues. That includes automating the right time, rate, and place to irrigate on a pastoral farm as well as addressing problematic microclimates in controlled environment systems such as indoor and vertical farms, which are extensive around the world.

“Image sensors are used in the development of facial recognition for animal identification and fruit counting and sizing applications. These are all tasks that, when automated, significantly improve the productive output of our farms whilst mitigating environmental impacts.

“This ability to match farming knowledge with technology development is a New Zealand strength and links well to findings in the recent Productivity Commission report,” he says.

The report encourages government investment in areas of existing or emerging economic strength and competitive advantage.

O’Connell says that to make progress the right level of sustained investment is required, and the government will need to make significant investments in infrastructure, research, and people to complement the efforts and investments of the business sector.