As the largest exporter of sheep, meat and dairy in the world, New Zealand is well known for its agricultural prowess. Yet as rising global factors and environmental change places new pressures on the sector, it will need to embrace innovation and evolve its tools and processes to continue thriving in the long term. Technology will play a vital role in the future of New Zealand agriculture, and it's essential that professionals in IT jobs collaborate with businesses in the agriculture industry to pursue new solutions and help it function better than ever.
Agriculture is a big user and creator of technology in New Zealand.
New Zealand must continue to leverage its strengths
Much of the New Zealand economy rests on its primary industries, so ensuring that agriculture continues to prosper is always a big priority. According to Graeme Muller, chief executive of NZ Tech, this means that much of the country's technological innovation in intertwined with agriculture as demand from the sector drives advancement.
"With our traditional strengths in agriculture and our growing strengths in tech, this is an opportunity we should pursue with vigour. Agriculture is a big user and creator of technology," he explained.
Mr Muller notes that decreasing productivity is a big problems for agriculture around the world, so technology will be central to helping businesses address challenges, reduce costs and improve output.
"Production costs have placed pressure on the competitive position of New Zealand agriculture in world markets. Reversing a slowdown in productivity growth is critical given the challenges the sector faces with strengthening environmental regulation," he said.
"Reigniting productivity in the rural sector is critical for both farmer profitability and New Zealand's global competitiveness."
Is technology the answer to agriculture's future prosperity?
Technology provides new possibilities for a range of industries,and agriculture is no exception. By working closely with those in IT project manager jobs and other roles such as software development, businesses in this sector will be able to explore the potential of new frontiers such as automation and digitisation. By leveraging agritech, they can maximise productivity, reduce issues such as human error and boost performance across the supply chain. The possibilities are apparent when looking at the progress of agritech globally, and New Zealand needs to follow suit if it is to make the most of all that IT has to offer.
"Global agritech investment is growing rapidly, with investment in 2014 estimated at over $US2.36 billion making the sector larger than the global fintech market. With our traditional strengths in agriculture and our growing strengths in tech this is an opportunity we should pursue with vigour," said Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand Chair Craige Mackenzie.
"There is an enormous opportunity for New Zealand to use technology as a means to support the economic growth of our agri sector and to also work with the sector to become a world leader in a fast growing agritech market."
Just by improving the performance of the top quarter of NZ farmers, the country could see a $3 billion increase in exports each year.
Where are the opportunities?
The potential advantages that agritech could bring to the industry in New Zealand are undeniable. According to a survey from the Ministry for Primary Industries, the country could see a $3 billion yearly increase in its exports just by improving the performance of the top quarter of its farmers. There are a range of ways technology can be implemented in agriculture, many of which are already making waves in the sector. For instance, data and insights from professionals in business analyst jobs will give agribusinesses the tools they need to improve efficiency.
"There are significant positive impacts available from connecting farms to broadband and from relatively simple data sharing applications. Internet connectivity and broadband brings the prospect of increased digital customer interactions for businesses," said Mr Mackenzie.
"For example, online transactions and data transfers between dairy farmers, Fonterra and the Livestock Improvement Corporation reduce transactions costs and improve logistical co-ordination and farm management. There are also opportunities for the application of big data and analytics, particularly as speedy online transfers of data between farmers and suppliers become the norm."
Driving technology transfer in agriculture
However, before such opportunities to add value through technology can be realised, it's necessary for stakeholders both inside and outside the sector to collaborate and encourage New Zealand farms to adopt innovative tools in new ways. The Ministry of Primary industries explains that effective technology transfer requires diverse skills sets and increasing IT expertise in agriculture organisations.
"We need a much larger resource of well trained, accredited people to assist landowners to increase productivity while farming within limits," commented a respondent of the Ministry survey.
Consequently, a growing number of farmers and agribusinesses will need to pursue IT recruitment and contracting in order to expand the tech capabilities at their disposal. IT professionals will play an increasingly important role in helping New Zealand agriculture progress and enabling it to remain globally competitive in the future.
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