Thursday 2 June 2016

Agritech and Smart Management Poised to Reshape Farming and Growing

Havelock North played host to the delegates for the 2016 LandWISE “Value of Smart Farming” Conference. Day one started with an Australian perspective and Julie O’Halloran and Ian Layden from the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries both spoke regarding challenges with precision ag implementation in the Queensland context. Both are working on a precision ag project with a small group of Queensland vegetable growers.
The key points in their project:
  • Identify variability using EM surveys and Trimble GreenSeeker technology.
  • Address variability using variable rate nutrients and water.
  • Make sure that data is utilised and implemented into management decisions.

For more info on Trimble GreenSeeker and EM Soil Surveys head to
The story of Keith Jarret’s successful Koln Concert was the analogy used by Ian make the point that although something doesn’t feel right, e.g a new technology, embracing the change and stepping outside the comfort zone can see great things can happen. Often, this is the case when new technology doesn’t perfectly fit the system. Taking the risk and making it work can end in a great result.

Dan Bloomer of LandWISE spoke about the website, a fertiliser spread analysis and calibration tool. Farmers, growers and contractors that spread their own fert should head there to see some of the tips for accurately calibrating their spreading equipment. The website provides access to some extremely useful and practical resources.

Boosting the growth and development of cutting edge NZ Agritech is the focus of Sprout (, an agritech incubator that is supported by many big New Zealand agribusinesses. Stu Bradbury, also from Agri Optics North, spoke about the role sprout is playing in developing Kiwi startup agritech ventures. 
Stu Bradbury introducing Sprout Agritech Accelerator
 Justin Pishief presented on the uses of profit mapping from georeferenced yield and topography data. Justin produced mapping layers showing how the topography of a particular paddock of onions was actually limiting the yield and subsequently the profit.
Source: J Pishief, Landwise Presentation
The key steps in utilising profit mapping:
  • Capture georeferenced data at harvest.
  • Identify the “Yield Gap”. i.e. the potential yield that each area or zone can reach.
  • Link this data to the cost of production.
  • Create a gross Margin for each zone in the paddock.
  • Identify what is causing this loss.

 Agri Optics is able to produce profit maps from captured yield data visit: for more info.

Day two of the conference introduced delegates to the future of smart farming. Big Data, Agricultural Cybernetics and machine learning was some of the jargon used in the morning presentations. However… Big data does not equal information. This was the guts the message from Tristian Perez, Professor of Robotics and Autonomous Systems at Queensland University of Technology. Farmers now have access to more data than ever but this does not necessarily equate to usable information. The biggest issue facing farmers now is no longer the volume of data but the variety. Data from multiple layers e.g. NDVI, EM and Yield are just some of the variety that farmers are faced with.

Drones in action at the Centre for Land and Water
The micro farm at the Centre for Land and Water (see for more info) was the setting for demos of drones spreading rice and aerial spraying as well as an autonomous vehicle designed to drive itself around orchards. The level of technology involved in automated ag vehicles is immense and the future of farm machinery will see farmers needing knowledge of increasingly complex machinery and technology.
Autonomous Orchard Robot

By Nick Evans, PA Technician at Agri Optics. @AgriOpticsNick