Tuesday 4 October 2011

New Zealand TechClinic� cultivates the use of digital technology in farming

New Zealand TechClinic� cultivates the use of digital technology in farming

A Kiwi Innovation Network (KiwiNet) forum has been held in Christchurch to gain insights into how digital technology can improve farm, orchard and vineyard sustainable profitability and grow high tech manufacturing.

KiwiNet is a consortium of New Zealand Universities and Crown Research Institutes working together to increase the scale and impact of scientific and technology based innovation in New Zealand. The forum sought to identify the steps required to ensure that technological leadership is turned into an innovative and world leading agri-tech sector. The forum focused on improving collaboration across the agricultural value chain, and unlocking significant economic value both in the primary industry and in the high-tech manufacturing and ICT sectors.

The forum was facilitated by the AIC using our TechClinics� approach. AIC TechClinics� use a structured environment to focus the entire innovation value chain on a specific opportunity, area or need. Industry representatives outline the market gaps and commercial success criteria, researchers identify technologies available to address these gaps and government can provide critical support and national direction.

The TechClinic� was attended by KiwiNet members and other participants from government, industry and the research sector, including representatives from organisations such as:

  • New Zealand Trade & Enterprise
  • Jade Software Corporation
  • TracMap
  • Pipfruit NZ Inc
  • AgResearch
  • Plant & Food Research
  • Firstlight Foods Ltd
  • Farmax Ltd
  • Foundation for Arable Research
  • DairyNZ
  • Waikato, Canterbury, Lincoln, Auckland and Massey Universities

A range of case study presentations and industry and research insights were delivered by Craige Mackenzie (Agri Optics) and Professor Ian Yule (Massey University).

Jim Grennell of Canterbury Development Corporation  said  that the TechClinic� was �a very worthwhile forum for further understanding and development of the agriculture sector� while Andrew Naylor of Pernod Ricard felt that it was a �great opportunity to network and broaden my thinking in relation to possibilities for Pernod Ricard vineyards�.

The TechClinic� presented the vision �for New Zealand to be a world leader in all aspects of Digital Agriculture technology, including R&D, manufacturing and implementation, both domestically and for export.�

Opportunities for digital agriculture were outlined, including:

  • Extending and commercialising  agricultural technologies and farm knowledge
  • Making data collection easier and less time consuming for primary producers
  • Building a cleaner and greener New Zealand
  • Producing more profitable farms
  • Improving collaboration through complementary activity
  • Exporting New Zealand�s agricultural expertise through digital technology
  • Better understanding the customer � end users of agricultural technology
  • Technology adaption
  • Using existing knowledge/technology in practice through integration
  • Greater awareness of technologies
  • Better communication of the value proposition of Digital Ag
  • Accelerating the adoption of technologies/systems by farmers through connectivity

The issues and constraints impeding the vision for Digital Agriculture in New Zealand were also highlighted. These ranged from issues surrounding collaboration, resource constraints, a lack of a common forum or association for digital agriculture, communication problems, poor adoption of agricultural technology, a lack of internet connectivity in rural areas and financial constraints.

The TechClinic� highlighted the needs for successful outcomes in Digital Agriculture which included requirements for greater knowledge and information, an association for digital agriculture, improved communication, improved collaboration and better access to funding and investments.

One of the greatest outcomes of the AIC TechClinic� process is that it achieves cooperation along the value chain to overcome such obstacles, and this time proved no exception. Attendees from industry associations, universities, manufacturers, and governments agreed a number of actions to take the opportunity forward:

  • Facilitate simple contract management for collaboration (particularly between Universities and CRIs)
  • Consider the formation of a Digital Agriculture association or reference group
  • Consider a workforce development plan
  • Assist in developing a clear value proposition
  • Undertake a situation analysis/audit to determine current state of the industry (technology available, percentage uptake, utilisation), and identify more specifically gaps that exist
  • Develop a framework that can be populated by participants
  • Identify funding for above work
  • Discuss with government the current weather data and forecasts

If you would like to find out more about the TechClinic� process please visit www.ausicom.com/techclinics or call (07) 3853 5225 or e-mail info@ausicom.com for further information.

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“I am delighted to confirm , from first hand participation, that the Forum was an excellent event and pioneered new territory for the tourism sector”

Tourism Division, DEEDI,