The need to feed 9.6 billion people around the world by 2050 is an opportunity, but also a huge challenge for New Zealand’s farmers. As global demand increases and the availability of arable land decreases, there is additional pressure to work more sustainably while keeping a lid on costs. Fortunately, for farmers with an eye on the future, technology is now more accessible than ever – faster networks, greater connectivity and digital applications are changing agribusiness to ensure farmers are ready for the future.
It all starts with being connected, says Vodafone New Zealand’s Enterprise Director, Ken Tunnicliffe. “The roll out of the Rural Broadband Initiative lets rural businesses enjoy fast internet connectivity, opening up a range of possibilities for how they’re run, how they grow and how they keep customers happy.”
Vodafone delivers 3G services to almost 200,000 rural addresses across four million hectares of land, using 89 new and 264 upgraded cell sites. This enables businesses to improve farming output and manage farms more effectively. For rural households, this access to broadband and improved mobile coverage is helping to build stronger communities, create job opportunities and improve health and safety.
Better connectivity means farm managers can start working smarter. Tracking delivery fleets in transit, monitoring fertiliser application, testing the moisture level in soil and much more – all from their computer or smartphone.
Digital applications are mobilising agribusinesses across the value chain
Apps provide opportunities for farmers to save time and make quicker decisions. Technology has made it possible for farmers to gain real-time data across many areas of farming and consolidate this through a smartphone or computer, so they can make faster, better decisions.
“Wairarapa Moana uses the Vodafone network to establish their online farm management system, which automatically collects and displays data on milk production, soil tests, weather and water information, pasture cover readings and irrigation preset limits across their multiple farms. Farmers can access real-time data via smartphone and tablet, and receive text alerts to minimise workload and increase decision-making power,” says Tunnicliffe.
Machine-to-Machine (M2M) is making an impact
M2M solutions are transforming the way agribusiness operates. M2M is a set of technologies that lets multiple devices communicate without human input. That means you can get anytime/anywhere access to real-time data to identify problems as they occur and solve them remotely. It can centralise your controls, help increase efficiencies, improve safety and productivity.
Several forward-thinking New Zealand companies are seizing the opportunity to harvest data in the field. Precision Farming uses GPS and machine-to-machine (M2M) to make fertiliser use more efficient and environmentally sensitive.
WaterForce uses M2M technology to measure soil moisture and monitor water levels, and connects to SCADAfarm, which monitors the irrigation pumps.
Farm Angel uses M2M to improve farm safety by automatically notifying emergency services (with GPS co-ordinates) if your quad bike tips over.
Making the most of what you’ve got
There’s a wealth of data available to ensure better business outcomes and now technology has made it possible to harvest this data. From yield, herd health, pricing, weather, soil conditions, product performance, distribution, maintenance and more. Creating a data supply chain will help farmers manage margins, minimise risk and drive efficiencies.
Becoming a smart farm is more than just incorporating these technologies. Whether it’s operating more efficiently or keeping in touch with customers here or overseas, Vodafone can help you stay ahead of the game. Are you ready?
Find out more