Thursday, 14 May 2020 09:42

Farmers backing broadband upgrade

Written by  Peter Burke
Fiona Gower. Fiona Gower.

Farmers are calling for an improvement of the rural broadband network.

Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) says improving connectivity is vital to successful business, health and safety, education and social connection in rural communities.

National President, Fiona Gower, says RWNZ would like to see the Wireless Internet Service Providers (WISP’s) included in the Government’s new rural broadband funding.

“We would also like to see a commitment to improving cellphone coverage in rural New Zealand because with only 50 per cent coverage across New Zealand, it is the rural communities missing out. COVID-19 has highlighted the issue of digital inequity with incredibly slow rural internet speeds and landlines overloading,” she says. 

 Gower says children now being schooled at home are often struggling to get to their online classes. 

“Across the board, self-isolation and restrictions on bubbles mean that it is vital that communities have the tools to connect, at the very least, to maintain mental wellness,” says Ms Gower.

Federated Farmers vice president Andrew Hoggard says surveys conducted by his organisation show there are some large parts of the rural countryside which still have slow, or no, access to the internet.

“The vast majority of New Zealanders living in towns and cities have absolutely no idea how bad internet access still is in some parts of the country,” he says.

 Hoggard says Feds surveys show internet speeds for rural users are still likely to make it difficult for them to complete tasks like internet banking, making orders online and using recruitment websites, not to mention the kids being able to do online schooling.

“If government are looking for a shovel-ready project, this would be a good one. The shovels are already in the ground.”

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Featured

 

Lely offerings for the future

Dutch robotic specialist Lely launched a new farm management application called Horizon at its recent Future Farm Days 2020.

Designed to connect data from a range of on-farm equipment and suppliers into one management system, it creates a real-time decision-support platform, to make the farmer’s life easier, the herd healthier and the farm more profitable, says Lely.

Developed over a 24-month period, with over 100 test farmers in seven countries, working with 75 engineers, designers, farm management advisors, veterinarians and AI specialists, the new application will eventually replace the current Lely T4C management system. It uses smart algorithms and the cloud to deliver data that is processed into actionable information that is always accessible on any device in a user-friendly way.

Lely claims the Horizon application unburdens farmers from routine decision making and helps them optimise their workloads, using integrated routines based on easily scheduled cow ‘touches’, create logical and more efficient workflows. It is also possible to assign a certain task to an employee and to schedule a time slot for the cow touch, rather than analysing different reports and filtering long lists.

Horizon is also able to connect and combine data from non-Lely sources into a complete solution for the farmer removing the need to enter the same data twice, while scrutinising individual data streams in different applications will no longer be necessary. Currently, connections with farming applications such as Dairy Comp, Uniform-Agri, CRV and Herde already enable farmers to synchronise information about calving and inseminations between applications. Lely’s ambition is to connect with more partners over time, to hand the farmer more smart data.

To ensure full support in the migration to Lely Horizon, existing Lely T4C customers will be personally informed by their Lely Center before the end of 2020.

The migration is planned in a phased approach, from country to country, over the year 2021.

Also launched at the event, Lely Exos is an autonomous concept for harvesting and feeding fresh grass to the herd.

The company suggests that feeding fresh grass makes better use of available roughage, suggesting “fresh” has between 10 and 20% more nutritional value than grass silage, as there are minimal losses typically seen during mowing, tedding, raking, harvesting and feeding.

Lely suggests that feeding fresh grass over an extended season reduces the amount of silage that has to be conserved, reduces the need for concentrates and bought-in feed and increase the margin made on each litre of milk produced.

Based around an all-electric vehicle that mows and feeds, Exos is light weight and uses soil friendly technology, that can be exploited throughout the growing season. Design to work 24/7 as feed requirements change, the system places no constraints on labour or time, while it is also designed to work in tandem with the Lely Vector automatic feeding systems.

In operation, Exos also collects field data as it goes about its job, giving framers live data on grass supply and lending itself to a further concept of delivering a targeted liquid fertiliser as it passes over a harvested area.

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