Inventor will be busy at Fieldays
Fieldays has a special appeal to Bay of Plenty inventor and businessman Matt Flowerday.
Growing up on his parents’ dairy farm near Te Aroha, Matt attended Fieldays as a student at Te Aroha College and later as a university student.
“I remember going to Fieldays when I was at school and my friends and I would try and collect as many pamphlets as possible,” he says. “Fieldays is also a special time for our family because my father and sister’s birthdays always fall during that week in mid-June. When it was Dad’s 60th we couldn’t think of a better place to celebrate than at Fieldays.”
The Fieldays connection has continued over the years. Matt’s company, GPS-it, has been exhibiting at Fieldays for the past nine years.
Now Tauranga-based, GPS-it is a specialist mapping company that grew out of a shed on his parents kiwifruit orchard in Te Puke 17 years ago.
Matt will be back at Mystery Creek next week to showcase GPS-it’s global positioning system (GPS) technology in the Fieldays Innovations Centre.
“As a new business owner I started going to Fieldays to check out the competition and see what new technology was out there,” he says. “It has always been a great opportunity to catch up with old university mates and other farming friends too. It’s like the calm before the storm, before everyone gets busy with calving.”
This year GPS-it has worked closely with the Fieldays team to develop the Fieldays App. The free, downloadable app has been developed to enable visitors to use GPS mapping technology to navigate the site and to plan their day in advance.
“You can search the app and it will not only find where you want to go, but tell you the best route for walking there,” says Matt, who says that the project involved digitally mapping the entire 114-hectare site at Mystery Creek.
User feedback helped improve on last year’s design.
“The most requested features of the app were how to find the nearest toilet, and where on earth is my car,” says Matt.
The company had humble beginnings.
“I was in my 20s, and I remember getting my hands on some GPS gear and measuring up their orchard,” he says. “The team at the pack house were quite impressed and gave me a few more jobs to work on. At that time, Zespri was releasing its Gold variety of kiwifruit. I showed them what I could do and ended up picking up mapping work for them. The rest is history.” Matt is proud of how his company has grown over the past 18 years. They now employ more than 20 people and supply maps to 85 per cent of New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry.
“There was a real gap in the market for accurate GPS mapping technology farmers could use as the foundation from which to run their entire operation. That’s why I started GPS-it,” says Matt.
“Everything starts with a map. They are the ultimate driver of productivity. With emerging technology like drones we are now getting even more detail than we used to with GPS.”
GPS-it worked with companies such as Fonterra and Zespri to develop tools for farmers that help them run more efficient, profitable and sustainable businesses.
“A project close to my heart was an automated mapping system we built with Zespri to help monitor kiwifruit orchards infected with the PSA bacteria,” says Matt. “It was a challenging time for our family and the industry.
“I’m also proud of the work we did with Fonterra more than seven years go to build a waterway mapping app as part of farmers’ efforts to protect our streams, lakes and rivers.”
A video of Matt’s story is available in the documentary box set Fieldays Stories, which can be viewed through TVNZ OnDemand (TVNZ.co.nz).
Matt Flowerday started GPSit in a shed on his parents’ Te Puke kiwifruit orchard.