PAANZ AGM 2016, Chairman's Report

PAANZ AGM 2016, Chairman's Report

11 November 2016

PAANZ Chair Craige Mackenzie provided attendees at the recent AGM with an update on what PAANZ has achieved over the last year and an idea of what’s to come.  The PAANZ AGM took place on 9th November 2016 at the Cantebury A&P Showgrounds.

As a starting point I would just like to take this opportunity to outline the goals of PAANZ. These are to:

• increase and influence the adoption and direction of Precision Agriculture by land based primary industries in New Zealand;
• facilitate the technology transfer of Precision Agriculture developments between researchers, advisers, land users, industry facilitators and others;
• engage in, promote and support research & development undertaken for the purpose of advancing the adoption of Precision Agriculture systems in New Zealand land based primary industries;
• improve the understanding and management of in field variability and validate Precision Agriculture systems for increased profits and protection of the environment;
• connect all participants in the Precision Agriculture value chain to one common organisation. This includes land users, researchers, commercial companies, Regional councils and students.

To all of our members and those who have joined us this year. It is your continued support that makes it possible to run this organisation and allow it to support improved outcomes for agriculture in New Zealand through the use of Precision Agriculture. PAANZ has 26 Foundation members, which include industry, research and farmers. We thank you greatly for your on-going support.

Earlier this year we spent some time refining our strategic document to reflect where we believe we can go as an organisation and how we can partner with other sectors and groups to have the best possible outcome. We have shared this with MPI to create a strong partnership going forward. We feel this is an exciting opportunity for the organisation.

We have noticed a significant increase in the interest in Precision Ag this year, being driven by the desire to improve efficiency but also by the need to meet targets now required in things like farm environment plans and overseer budgets. It is also been very pleasing to see a significant increase in interest in Precision Agriculture across a range of  larger  companies who now see that PA provides a way to better support their farmers into the future.

PAANZ has also been approached by Central government, as they seek to better understand how Precision Agriculture can help New Zealand, both here and overseas. Our challenge is to turn this interest into increasing our member base and increasing the value we provide to the agricultural sector.

In April several of our members went to Silicon Valley on an Ag Tech tour. For PAANZ participants it was interesting to see how well the Ag Tech group is aligned with PAANZ. There was a desire to connect these two groups and our organization has picked up some members as a result of this tour. We have also noticed increased collaboration, which has to be great for our organisation.

Technology is moving very fast at the moment. Some instances of this are the availability of radio mesh networks at realistic prices and more recently the first trials with Spark’s LoRa network where it is possible to connect 1000 devices to a single gateway. This will allow you to measure everything on a property that you could possibly think of and can cover 15 KM from one antenna. These and other new systems will be a game changer but the challenge will be to make use of all the data collected.

Data ownership and quality continues to be a hot topic around the world and we are no different. There are groups coming together to look at standards in this area and some of our members are part of this discussion.

We have been involved in many events throughout the year where our members or committee have presented on Precision Agriculture. We have also supported and promoted other events where we have common goals.

We ran one event this year in the South Island with two more scheduled in the North Island. The topic was one of nutrients and water, with the focus being to demonstrate what is available today in the way of Precision Agricuture solutions which can help effect change and provide better outcomes, with the final sessions of the day focussing on a view to the future. We had good numbers attend and real mix of industry and farmers. We would have liked to have had a greater number of farmers at these meetings but all of the feedback from those who attended has been extremely positive and when asked if they would attend another event one farmer said “definitely and I will bring 20 farmers with me next time.”

From these meetings we have seen some farmers take up some significant investments into PA which is a great result.

Some of our members attended the MobileTech conference in Rotorua which provided an interesting look at some of the new Precision Agriculture technology being introduced and how it might be of value to the agricultural sector.

Several of our committee and members attended the International Precision Ag Conference (ISPA) and Info Ag conference in St Louis, Missouri in August this year. It was interesting to note that there was really nothing new that was not being used or tried in NZ. But there was a huge number of data management platforms and drones and this will continue to be a busy space. Of special note is that Professor Ian Yule from Massey University is now President elect for ISPA and will take the chair in 2018. Congratulations Ian.

I was fortunate to receive the International Precision Ag Farmer of the year for 2016 which really just demonstrates that New Zealand is right up there with the rest of the world.

PAANZ attended and supported the LandWise conference in Hastings. As usual Luke Atkins ran a very interesting conference. It is good to be able to support the work Dan is doing.

UAV’s continue to be a hot topic and as an organisation we have attended several events and hosted demonstrations of several of the new additions to the market. These will continue to be of interest as we find ways to get useful data from them.

The development of new Precision Agriculture software which has integrated affordable satellite images as well as being able to send and receive application files to give proof of placement is ongoing. The use of such software to store and handle data will continue be more important as the technology use increases in the field.

In October 2017 PAANZ are hosting the 7th Asian-Australian Conference on Precision Agriculture (7ACPA) to be held in Hamilton. This will be the first time the event will be held outside of Asia so it will be important to make a success of it. Planning is well underway with an organising committee doing a great job. We are now at the point where we are about to ask for abstracts for the different themes of the conference. This event will include the Spatial Livestock conference (1ACPLF) for NZ and Australia and also Digital Farmer (DF2017) sessions which will add further value to the one event.

With the conference in mind we have put together a partnership document which will be available for potential sponsors in the very near future. We have had some very positive interest already and if you or anyone you know is interested please contact one of the committee and we will follow up. This will be a large event and I would like to acknowledge the significant work that has already gone in by those involved. Armin Werner from Lincoln Agritech will chair the conference and if you would like further details please do not hesitate to contact Armin or any of the committee.

I would like to thank all of the committee this year and appreciate all the time that you give up both personally and also from the organisations that support you. Without this support we would be unable to function,

I need to make special mention of Jim Grennell who is standing down from the Committee this year. Jim has given an enormous amount of time and support which is greatly appreciated. Fortunately Jim is taking on a part-time role with us so we will still have access to his expertise. We have also received significant support from Canterbury Development Corporation which is very much appreciated.

Once again thank you to all of you who have attended today and your ongoing support.