[Seminar] Precision Agriculture in New Zealand, October 22, 2018

The New Zealand delegation of the scientific mission “Precision Agriculture”, organised by the Embassy of France in Wellington, was in Montpellier on October 22 and 23 2018vto meet Montpellier teams from the Digital Agriculture Convergence Lab #DigitAg. On this occasion, the scientific colleagues from New Zealand gived a lecture on Precision Agriculture in New Zealand. Download their presentations.


Download the presentations


17h15 – Welcome message  – Véronique Bellon-Maurel (#DigitAg Head, Irstea)

17h30 – Dr Mark Shepherd (Principal research scientist, AgResearch, Mark.Shepherd [AT] agresearch.co.nz)
Dr Julie Cakebread (Researcher, AgResearch, Julie.Cakebread [AT] agresearch.co.nz)

Driving Prosperity by Transforming Agriculture
AgResearch is one of New Zealand’s Crown Research Institutes. Our goal is to generate smart, sustainable farming systems, and the most sought-after food and bio-products. As an organisation, we believe that digital technologies will help us in two separate but linked ways: as a science excellence enabler (asking questions we couldn’t before), i.e. options/solutions development; or a value creator/protector within a commercial enterprise, i.e. solutions delivery.  In our digital agriculture research programme we aim to establish a ‘proof of concept’ that digital technologies can develop and deliver transformed farm systems and value webs.  We will describe two use cases.

·Urine deposition in our grazed pastoral system is a major source of N losses to the environment.  We are using digital technologies to understand spatial, temporal and between-animal variation in urination characteristics. We are testing if these insights can lead to improved decision support around animal management to decrease N losses.

The value chain is complex and increasingly consumer centric. In order to create a value- chain that can respond to consumer demands we need to be able to adapt practices on farm (a 2-way model) to produce milk with the required attribute. We need a better understanding of the links between on-farm practices and off- farm milk attributes. We will present some data from a recent trial seeking to determine those links.


17h50 – Dr Matteo Poggio (Pedometrician, Research Scientist at Landcare Research, Massey University, PoggioM [AT] landcareresearch.co.nz)
& Dr Joseph Pollacco (Permanent researcher, Landcare Research, PollaccoJ [AT] landcareresearch.co.nz)

Proximal and remote sensing approaches for quantitative soil analysis in New Zealand
New Zealand is characterized by extensive diversity in environmental factors, such as climate, morphology, biology and lithology. Their interactions contribute ultimately to the large variabilities in soil properties, which can be observed at different scales – from national to individual plot. Harnessing soil variabilities, across space and time, is a critical step to the sustainable management of soil and environmental resources. The precision agriculture paradigm provides an illustration of the value of such information: if site-specific nutrient zones can be delineated in some way, then farmers have an evidence base to fine-tune their inputs (nutrients, water), and adapt these to the very local requirements of the crop. If the soils of a farm, or even of a field, can be split into contiguous zones according to their ability to retain water, site-specific irrigation plans can be developed to optimise water use and minimise detrimental effects such as runoff or leaching. This approach has the potential to further our understanding of spatial, temporal and hydrological variability of soil by rapid and affordable acquisition of previously inconceivably large datasets. The current advances in sensor design, the accessibility of robotics, miniaturization and programming, and the combination of complementary sensors in a multi-sensor platform accelerate our ability of researching and contributing valuable new knowledge to promote sustainable practices that can preserve soil resources.


18h10 – Dr Roger Robson-Williams (General Manager Science – Sustainable Production, Plant and Food Research, roger.Robson-Williams [AT] plantandfood.co.nz)
Dr Damian Martin ( Science Group Leader for Viticulture and Oenology, Plant and Food Research, Damian.Martin [AT] plantandfood.co.nz)

Emerging digital technologies in New Zealand Horticulture

The digital revolution refers to changes sweeping the consumer goods and services sector made possible by advances in cheap, fast and reliable data acquisition and processing, sophisticated analytics, cloud computing services, wireless technologies, the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence. These offer the opportunity for a wide range of businesses to improve their operational effectiveness, and they have enabled the creation of a number of disruptive business models, e.g. Uber and Airbnb.

We asked: How might New Zealand’s horticultural value chains be transformed or disrupted by the digital revolution? We then considered the technology platforms that would be necessary to enable this transformation. The technology platforms we identified are: sensor networks and connectivity; agri-food value chain informatics (including consumer insights); cloud computing service models; and cyberphysical systems (robotics). In addition, we need to consider social licence to operate.

The interdisciplinary development and integration of these platforms is an evolution of the precision farming concept (driving efficiency in largely agricultural commodity production systems), with added applicability to the whole value chain. We call this ‘Smart & Connected AgriFood’.

18h30 – Closing Aperitif