printer icon

NZ agriculture at a critical point

September 7, 2022

Widespread digital changes in New Zealand agriculture are occurring at a critical point with increasing global food demand, economic and environmental sustainability, and the response to the climate crisis, AgriTechNZ chief executive Brendan O’Connell says.

These issues are inextricably linked and technology solutions are the vital answer for improved food and fibre production.

The adoption of technology on farms and orchards is just one dynamic in an overall scheme of extensive changes in agricultural practice.

O’Connell was reacting to the release of a new AgriTechNZ report just out on technology growing faster throughout the primary industries.

“The utilisation of tech by New Zealand growers and producers is strong compared to many other farming countries,” he says.

“This is largely due to the close affinity, developed over many decades, between innovators and  their farming customers in New Zealand.

However, the general observation that adoption of technologies in agriculture occurs at a slower rate than in other industries is also true in New Zealand.

“Technology innovation is the enabler of profitable, sustainable, and inclusive production systems. It is also a much-needed source of high value jobs and global impact, beyond food and fibre exports.

“The adoption of technologies in agriculture also needs to be considered in the context of practice change and not just the acquisition of new tools.”

The report says this represents a paradigm shift in the approach to farm operations and is a key factor in the adoption of  technology.

Farming practices are continually evolving. One of New Zealand agriculture’s distinctive features is its ability to adapt.

Farmers build on their experience to refine their livestock and crop management. They are also responding to continual changes in natural conditions and resource availability.

“Inherently, New Zealand producers and growers are pragmatic and capable of change where the right  value and conditions exist.

“This report is just the start. In time, we will carry out an economic and sustainability impact study on future agricultural changes.”

AgriTechNZ chair Bridgit Hawkins says the agritech sector has two important roles as a contributor to growing the New Zealand economy.

Growing and globalising in its own right, and, by having stronger and more innovative companies, supporting New Zealand’s pastoral, arable and horticultural sectors to grow by taking on the amazing technologies being developed, she says.

“The research in the report has opened up many insights, much more nuanced than those easy stereotypes about the adoption of technology.

“There are many reasons why  a farmer or grower will seek out a technology to solve a problem they have identified, or why a farmer or grower will actively not adopt a technology that could make a task easier.

“If we believe our technologies are part of solving  problems for individual farmers or for the greater NZ Inc benefit, then we owe it to our farmers and growers to understand their reasons and start the conversation there.

For further information contact Brendan O’Connell on 021 369740 or NZTech’s media specialist, Make Lemonade editor-in-chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188.

NZTech We connect, promote and advance the New Zealand Technology ecosystem to help the tech sector and the economy grow.