Thursday, 17 September 2020 11:21

COVID-19: Record GDP fall, ag sector suffers smallest drop

Written by  Staff Reporters
The quarterly GDP fall is the largest recorded since the current series began in 1987. The quarterly GDP fall is the largest recorded since the current series began in 1987.

Agriculture has kept losses to a minimum as New Zealand reported its largest ever GDP drop on record.

Gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 12.2% in the June 2020 quarter, Stats NZ announced this morning.

The quarterly fall is the largest recorded since the current series began in 1987.

The fall is comparable to many other countries amid the pandemic; the GDP in the same quarter in Australia fell 7%, Canada 11.5%, Japan 7.9%, the United Kingdom 20.4%, and 9.1% in the United States.

Some industries were more affected than others by the border closure and alert levels restrictions in place during the June quarter.

Agriculture, forestry, and fishing recorded the smallest drop, falling just 2.2%.

Retail trade and accommodation and transport, postal, and warehousing recorded the largest drops, falling 25.2% and 38.7% respectively.

Financial and insurance services was the only industry that grew, with a 0.7% increase.

“Industries like retail, accommodation and restaurants, and transport saw significant declines in production because they were most directly affected by the international travel ban and strict nationwide lockdown,” said national accounts senior manager Paul Pascoe.

New Zealand started the June 2020 quarter in alert level 4 lockdown, reaching alert level 1 on 8 June 2020.

“While level 4 restrictions were in place for most of April, the gradual return to level 1 over the course of the quarter meant that businesses were able to open up again and many people returned to places of work,” said Pascoe.

Annually, GDP fell by 2.0%. This is the first annual decline since the March 2010 quarter.

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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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