The New Zealand IoT Alliance and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) have launched a joint pilot of IoT in agriculture to demonstrate how digital technologies can make New Zealand agriculture more productive and more competitive.
The trial is taking place at Kowhai Farm, a site administered by the Foundation for Arable Research, where nitrate sensors have been installed in groundwater monitoring wells to help farmers understand dynamics of nitrates.
"With the environmental impact of agriculture on the New Zealand landscape being a concern, farmers are improving their practices to minimise possible impacts," the IoT Alliance said.
"[The ability] to deliver nitrate readings to the cloud will allow groups of farmers to monitor their collective performance and work together to develop further mitigations if required."
NZ IoT Alliance executive director Kriv Naicker said the trial aimed to get farmers to see the value in deploying rapidly evolving technology.
"We feel that 2019 could be the tipping the point for New Zealand and the farming export sector," he added. "The pilot is showcasing the technology needed for precision agriculture methods and techniques in a hands-on pilot demonstration that will be monitored and evaluated by the foundation."
MBIE digital economy policy advisor Sandra Laws said when the trial was announced last May: "This evaluation aspect from a trusted and impartial industry body is what differentiates this pilot from all other vendor specific pilots currently underway."
The NZ IoT Alliance said Hydrometrics nitrate sensor had been installed along with Aquaflex soil moisture sensors, climate and plant heath sensors to demonstrate what is possible.
"Four technology companies are working together in the first phase of the trial, the Tru Track consortium consists of, Tru Track, Lincoln Agritech, Met Technology Limited and Aquaflex NZ which is a division of Streat Instruments," the IoT Alliance said.
The current demonstration is using the Sigfox network to deliver the data. However, Laws said the next phase of the pilot would see Spark and KotahiNet deploy a range of their sensors.
"This will further add to the data we’re collecting on growing conditions. Overall, the pilot will provide valuable insight into the potential of these emerging technologies, which could help boost the productivity and sustainability of New Zealand farm management practices.