An app which sends out a daily text message to dairy farmers can completely eliminate the risk of them receiving a hefty fine for spreading too much effluent on their farms but can also save them money of fertiliser.
Chief executive Bridgit Hawkins says the future of food production in New Zealand hinges on farmers reducing their environmental footprint, and harnessing technology to innovate farming practice.
The company uses technology including real-time data to enable farmers to better manage water use, effluent and reduce nitrate leaching.
Hawkins refers to the push by Environment Minister David Parker towards better water quality, including changes to the Resource Management Act, a defining of acceptable nutrient levels in waterways and a possible cap on the number of dairy cows in NZ.
“He has also recognised the need to invest in and subsidise new technology to help farmers meet the requirements,” she says.
But more needs to be done in using technology to make farming more sustainable, she says.
“We need to invest more in applying science to farming, to help farmers work through this complex and uncertain time, while meeting their resource consents.... Transparency in the field-to-fork process is becoming more critical.”
Many farmers are working hard to better manage water use and nitrate leaching, but the sector would benefit from Government support, Hawkins says.
“When farmers can fully use the science and technologies available to them it benefits their farm and the wider community.
“For example, our farmers get on average a 5:1 return when closely monitoring key farm measures like soil moisture. In practical terms this means they know exactly when they need to water and how much because we take into account weather and soil conditions.
“We also help farmers accurately determine the right time to apply nitrogen fertiliser, reducing leaching. All of this improves the quality of our waterways.
“In communities where water is a hotly contested topic, this provides a new level of transparency while connecting farmers more closely with their pastures.”