Dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy drives smart farms

Sunday Star-Times - - BUSINESS - Jayne Ather­ton Busi­ness Ed­i­tor

Dig­i­tal ser­vices and in­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity are of­ten more associated with de­liv­er­ing eco­nomic ben­e­fit to ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments rather than ru­ral ar­eas.

But in New Zealand and other coun­tries around the world with economies where agri­cul­ture plays a big part, it is im­por­tant to nar­row the gap be­tween the level of dig­i­tal ser­vices found in cities and towns and our farm­ing re­gions.

This week, Communications Min­is­ter Si­mon Bridges and Pri­mary In­dus­tries Min­is­ter Nathan Guy, an­nounced $1.6m worth of fund­ing for two work­streams to pro­mote the up­take of dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy across Can­ter­bury, and iden­tify any prob­lems with cov­er­age.

‘‘Can­ter­bury has iden­ti­fied con­nec­tiv­ity as vi­tal to eco­nomic growth,’’ said Si­mon Bridges. ‘‘A key fo­cus is around re­duc­ing the dig­i­tal di­vide be­tween town and coun­try, par­tic­u­larly given ru­ral Can­ter­bury gen­er­ates much of the pros­per­ity of the re­gion.

‘‘We want to en­cour­age busi­nesses, par­tic­u­larly those in ru­ral ar­eas, to get on board with faster broad­band by shar­ing suc­cess sto­ries of how it’s mak­ing a dif­fer­ence. For ex­am­ple, for farm­ers, im­proved con­nec­tiv­ity helps them gather data to farm smarter – us­ing tech­nol­ogy for en­vi­ron­men­tal mon­i­tor­ing, such as ef­flu­ent and wa­ter con­trol, and for on­line shop­ping.’’

He said the work­stream aimed to have 95 per cent of farms ac­cess­ing broad­band by June 2019.

Tech­nol­ogy can help with all sorts of things, in­clud­ing the smart use of ir­ri­ga­tion and fresh­wa­ter management, which im­prove land pro­duc­tiv­ity.

Our farm­ers should seize the op­por­tu­nity to get ahead. Dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy is helping their coun­ter­parts in some of the most im­pov­er­ished coun­tries in the world, so there’s no ex­cuse for a rel­a­tively rich coun­try like ours to fall be­hind, pro­vid­ing there is suf­fi­cient in­vest­ment and af­ford­abil­ity is ad­dressed.

For the past five years, smart­phones have en­abled farm­ers in Tan­za­nia for ex­am­ple, ac­cess up-to-date weather in­for­ma­tion through a mo­bile app called Tigo Kil­imo. Mean­while, the Con­nected Farmer mo­bile pro­gramme in East Africa sends cur­rent mar­ket prices to farm­ers’ phones, so they can man­age pay­ments and sell pro­duce at the best pos­si­ble prices. Think of the op­por­tu­ni­ties even greater con­nec­tiv­ity and ser­vices could de­liver to New Zealand.

Dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy can help ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tems op­er­ate more ef­fi­ciently.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.