The trial is designed to demonstrate how digital technologies can make New Zealand agriculture more productive and competitive.
The New Zealand IoT Alliance and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) have teamed up to launch a Farm IoT trial. The pilot project is happening at Kowhai Farm, run by the Foundation for Arable Research. IoT sensors designed to monitor nitrates have been installed in groundwater monitoring wells to help farmers monitor their usage. While Nitrogen is a key component for plant growth and health and found in all crop fertilizers, any excess is converted to nitrates and moves with groundwater. This contributes to pollution in lakes, streams, and rivers.
“With the environmental impact of agriculture on the New Zealand landscape being a concern, farmers are improving their practices to minimize possible impacts,” the IoT Alliance said. “[The ability] to deliver nitrate readings to the cloud will allow groups of farmers to monitor their collective performance and work together to develop further mitigations if required.”
See also: How AI can aid the agriculture sector
The trial is aimed at getting farmers to see the value in deploying IoT solutions on their farms by showcasing technology for precision agriculture methods. Hydrometric nitrate sensors have been installed along with Aquaflex soil moisture sensors and climate and plant health sensors to demonstrate what can be achieved with the IoT.
The trial is currently using the Sigfox network but the next phase will include sensors from Spark and KotahiNet. KotahiNet has a LoRaWAN network and Spark has both LoRaWAN and a CAT-M1 network. Four companies, Tru Track, Lincoln Agritech, Met Technology Limited, and Aquaflex NZ, are working together in this initial phase of the trial.
“This will further add to the data we’re collecting on growing conditions. Overall, the pilot will provide valuable insight into the potential of these emerging technologies, which could help boost the productivity and sustainability of New Zealand farm management practices,” said the alliance.