Time to get data-smarter

Big data. It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot now days but it’s one that is going to be critical to the future success of New Zealand farming.

Today in New Zealand we’re now probably at “peak cow”.

If dairy farming is going to continue to drive our economy in the way it has for decades (which it must) we’re going to have to farm differently. We’re going to have to farm smarter.

Farmers are rightly voicing concern about what this shift will mean and how they will do it. We don’t have all the answers today but what we do know is that big data will be at the heart of it.

The next era of farming starts with taking full advantage of data. We need a full ecosystem of information and analytics to support our farmers shift from volume to value. We need to be able to provide insights to farmers, not just pages and pages of reports.

Farming throughout history has been based on instinct and experience. It’s now our job to interpret data and serve insights up at the right time to help farmers with decision making on farm.

We know that access to insights will make farmers’ lives easier and enable informed decisions, driving the next wave of productivity and sustainability improvements. Agritech companies around the world are taking notice and on-farm tech innovation is moving quickly, particularly as the cost of data capture and analysis reduces.

So as the global data arms race heats up, how is New Zealand’s dairy farming sector placed?

Well the good news is there’s already a huge influx of data being produced from a wide range of technologies used on farms, including traditional methods like herd testing and animal recording, more recently from in shed cameras and sensors, and even more recently from satellites.