Farmers slow on technology uptake

Farmers slow on technology uptake

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New Zealand: Hard-hit by continuing poor returns, New Zealand’s sheep and beef farmers aren’t investing in technology even when it would improve their businesses, according to research undertaken by EIT Hawke’s Bay academic, Ram Roy.

Looking at specific technology that might assist farming operations, he said dairy industry uptake accounted for half the GPS-based devices sold by TracMap (TM) New Zealand. The device mounted on a cab or tractor draws a map on the screen, which enables the driver to see the area covered and area remaining while working. Most users reported a 20 percent productivity gain as a result of using TM.

Dr Roy said, “Some of the barriers in adopting these technologies include lack of awareness, unclear benefits and unwillingness in cost sharing.” However, cropping farms had a far higher uptake of GPS technology. Benefits of GPS and TM devices for farming included enhanced productivity, reduced costs, less stress and greater job enjoyment, targeted spraying, accurate billing, environment protection and food safety.

Dr Roy’s research also looked at RFID – radio-frequency identification – in the farming industry. The cost of compliance for the European Union’s (EU) required use of RFID in the food supply chain was expected to rise to about USD 5-billion by 2018, with most of that amount spent on systems and tags.

“Research also suggests that legislation is driving the use of RFID for safety (with livestock and pets), for the rapid and optimal response to disease outbreaks, proof of vaccination, registration and so on.”

Australasia led the world for some RFID applications – in Australia it was a legal requirement for cattle and tagging had been used in milk samples in New Zealand.

Source: Scoop