Perspective 2025 - Disruptive Technology

Last Friday I was absolutely privileged, and some what nervous, to be one of ten amazing women in Agribusiness who gave their 'Perspective 2025' for the Primary sector.

The event was held as part of NZ Agri Investment week and was streamed live on Stuff.co.nz. If you missed the live stream you can view it here http://bit.ly/1S2ntZ9.

My chosen topic was Disruptive Technology and how this will play an integral roll in the way we farm in the future. You can read my speech below.

Disruptive Technology

For our industry I want to see improved products and services by innovating in ways our markets don’t expect us too. I want to see us understand our consumers in more detail – what clothes do they wear? Books do they read? What Hairdresser do they visit? I want our industry to be agile enough that they have lower input prices than they do currently and our products are designed for multiple varying sets of consumers.

Big ask? I think not.

How? Disruptive, innovative technology.

We need to find new ways of doing things that disrupt or overturn our current traditional, and some what ‘old school’ business methods and practices within the Primary sector.

What you need to know about me is I am a self-confessed geek. I am a business owner specialising in working with the most disruptive of technologies – one that has changed the way we communicate forever.

Digital and Social Media Marketing.

It’s my life goal to deliver our NZ Inc Primary Industries story to the world. However, that’s a story for another day.

Today I’ll briefly touch on the following:

1. Mobile Connectivity

2. Agritech in New Zealand

3. Wearable Technology

4. 3D printing

5. The internet of things

As an industry we can’t afford to rely on the traditional No.8 wire and 'she’ll be right attitude' if we’re to continue to produce the best primary products in the world. We need to harness and embrace the current and emerging technology available to us.

Technology has already impacted the way we work, communicate and operate. Just look at the single biggest technological disrupter on farm to date – the smartphone. It’s the single biggest disrupter on farm because 80% of farmers now own a smartphone.

Mobile Technology – where would we be without it? With 91% internet penetration in NZ, approx. 40% ahead of the rest of the world, we're connected. Whether or not we choose to be is another story. My point - don't ignore what being connected can mean for your business and your personal lives. As the penetration of broadband (particularly mobile broadband) continues at pace, some farmers are still constrained by the lack of connectivity. But a generation of twenty & thirty year olds are hanging out for it and they demand it!

At the rapid rate of knots that technology is being developed I don’t think we're far away from having everything on farm controlled by the touch of a few heat sensitive buttons on mobile technology.

So the uptake of mobile connectivity is substantial yet as a generalisation, New Zealand's farming sector has been very slow at adopting a lot of other new farming technology. Why?

We must innovate and adopt new methods across the value chain – or put simply – if we don’t adopt innovation the world will leave us behind.

I understand the cost of investing in this technology can seem or is prohibitive but it creates greater efficiencies on, and, off farm; increases profitability and allows us to find better ways of doing things across the value chain.

As mentioned by Mark Heer, the General Manager of Rural for ASB in his NZ Agri Investment week opening address ‘agritech will allow us to create a sustainable industry’ – agritech IS disruptive technology but the success of its adoption hangs on those in the industry embracing it.

The launch of the Sprout Agritech Accelerator programme here in the Manawatu last year showed me that we have a lack of Agritech in New Zealand. Whilst many needs of farmers are being met by problem-solvers everyday, these agritech innovators need a chance to accelerate. Don't be stubborn – get into it. Try it, experiment with it. You'll thank these innovators in the long run.

We’ve already adopted disruptive technologies on farm:

· EID and EID readers

· Electronic weigh scales

· Cloud based software

· Apps like MINDA

· Social Media

So what does the future hold?

Wearable technology has flooded the market as a must have for anybody who classes themselves as a little geeky or has an obsession with fitness. Our beloved pets haven't been forgotten either. Recently a vet clinic in New Zealand trialed and implemented a dog collar, which has the ability to read the health of the animal and send the information back to its owner and their Vet. This allows them to prevent or treat medical conditions before visible signs of deterioration show to the naked eye. One of the Zoo's even requested a pair to be made for their Rhino's! Imagine what this could do for our farming industry!

If every animal we farmed had its health monitored by a wearable device we’d be more profitable having identified health issues earlier, saving us money on our animal health bills and significantly improving our bottom line.

Having recently read the 2015 Volume 2 KPMG agenda, they discussed the invention of the 3D printer and how it could impact our industry.

They made mention that soon we'll be able to offer 3D printed foods to the market. As New Zealand looks to become a more ‘lean’ manufacturing and agile nation, 3D printing will allow us to offer tailored solutions, such as the creation of synthetic and manufactured proteins, to meet the needs of our consumers.

Is this cause for concern in our dairy industry? Or do we need to get clever about how we integrate this into our production systems and value chain? I think the latter.

As another example the Maastricht University produced the worlds first in vitro beef pattie, which they presented to the world in August 2013 costing an estimated 250k Euro. The Technology is advancing so rapidly they’re now saying it’s possible to produce 250kg batches of test tube meat at a fraction of the cost.

There are so many more disruptive technologies out there, like the SCOTT Technologies Automated lamb boning machine, new uses for RFID technologies in Deer….the list goes on. It really is entirely conceivable that 30+million NZ farm animals will soon be mobile connected for the duration of their lives!

So I prop this question to the studio audience and those listening live…

Should we be harnessing consumer directive, design, desire & demand, to produce products that are highly innovative, attuned to their preferences and delivered sustainably and profitably through the use of disruptive technology?