Agriculture is experiencing great change, not least with the evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT) on-farm over the past five years.
It’s evolved from the relatively simple Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tagging and data tracking of cattle, notes Ken Wilson, programme manager for Connex: Event Innovators, the organisers of a primary sector technology conference that will be taking place n Rotorua in March.
“IoT is now the backbone of a centralised system tracking and analysing data from multiple sources right across the farm. Telecommunications company Spark is now working with over 100 farmers to install the IoT systems into their operations”.
KotahiNet is another building a New Zealand-wide wireless network for the rural sector. One of their earlier projects involved the installation of sensors in a Wairarapa olive grove. Real-time data and analytics assists the owners better map growth rates, set spraying schedules and respond to critical events as they happen.
According to Wilson, the IoT is a game-changer for the primary sector.
A recent report from American-based BI Intelligence, predicts that IoT device installations throughout the agricultural sector will increase from 30 million units in 2015 to over 75 million in 2020. On the average farm, the data points collected per day will also increase from 190,000 in 2014 to 4.1 million in 2050.
“We are certainly getting better at collecting data. The major challenge now is what to do with it. More connected devices and less human interaction will drive machine learning and automated systems.
“New Zealand has had a good start. We already have a number of world-class companies, like Rezare, Agrimap, FarmIQ and Figured, which provide innovative data management software and tools for the rural sector. The Ministry of Primary Industries also sees the value in data. They have set up the Farm Data Code of Practice to help safeguard farmers’ data and ensure that data can more easily move between the different systems.
“The Internet of Things and the use of collected data are just some of the big talking points at MobileTECH 2017 this coming March,” says Ken Wilson.
The event focuses on new technologies and innovations designed and developed for New Zealand’s agricultural, horticultural and forestry industries and this is the fifth time it has been held. MobileTECH 2017 will take place in just under two months in Rotorua, and organisers are expecting it to attract nearly 300 industry representatives from throughout the primary industries sector.
The technology has in this time advanced significantly, says Wilson who has noted, though, the focus of the conversation amongst leading tech developers, service suppliers and users has changed.
“We are no longer talking about early trials or the potential integration of innovations like advanced remote sensors, UAVs, wireless networks or cloud computing into day to day operations. Instead we now have financial and operational data being shared by some of the early adopters of these technologies”.
“Never before has the technology and IT sector been so critical to the future success of New Zealand’s primary industries,” he says.
MobileTECH 2017 will run from 22-23 March 2017 in Rotorua, New Zealand. The full programme and further details can be found on the event website, www.mobiletech.events.