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NZ Agritech companies participating in Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Week

Tuesday, February 15th, 2022

Agritech companies from New Zealand are participating in the Expo 2020 Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Week, 17 – 26 February.

AgriTechNZ members AbacusBio, AgResearch, Cawthron Institute, Gallagher Animal Management, LIC  and Plant & Food Research are all representing our sector on this global platform.

You can learn more about the forum here: Food, Agriculture & Livelihoods Week | World Expo (

In addition, please find below the registration links for the week’s highlights;

Please note that everything mentioned here is in UAE time zone (-9 hours for NZT) so 8am in the UAE is 4pm here in New Zealand. Some of these events will be uploaded to Virtual Expo Dubai so you can watch later in your own time-zone.

Posted in Animal & Pasture Farming, Horticulture Tech

NZ genetics company Tropical Dairy Group announces capital raise on Catalist

Thursday, October 21st, 2021

New Zealand dairy genetics company Tropical Dairy Group Limited (TDG) announced today a private offer on Catalist – a new stock exchange designed for small to medium enterprises (SMEs).

Seeking to raise $3 million from wholesale investors, TDG is the holding company and 100% owner of both Thermo Regulatory Genetics Limited and Dairy Solutionz (NZ) Limited, founded in 2018 and 2009 respectively.

The raise comes ahead of an intended public listing in early 2022 on the Catalist Public Market.

Focused on developing heat-tolerant cattle in tropical climates, TDG’s genetics are sold into markets throughout Asia, the USA and South America, improving animal welfare and helping the world’s hottest communities provide greater food and protein security.

Chair Tim Heeley says this is a great opportunity for New Zealanders to invest in a world-first genetic solution, originating from the Waikato.

“TDG is a technology-driven, growth business. Being a pioneering genetics company with a global perspective, coupled with a presence anchored in New Zealand, makes us a unique investment opportunity,” he says.

“We are predicting good interest from dairy farmers as well as the wider New Zealand ag community. The investment should also appeal to people looking to fund solutions to global food insecurity issues linked to climate change.”

The Ohaupo-based company started breeding tropical dairy genetics in 2008, with fourteen private investors to date – many of them New Zealand dairy farmers.

Now, TDG invites wholesale investors to come onboard, allowing access through a nominee investment vehicle with a minimum investment amount of $10,000.

Colin Magee, Catalist’s CEO says he is delighted to welcome Tropical Dairy Group to the exchange.

“It’s great to see TDG taking the next step in their growth journey by listing on a Catalist Private Market and we’re pleased we can help facilitate both capital raising and generating liquidity for their investors,” he says.

“We hope this initial offer will help with their goal of a public listing on our licensed stock exchange early next year – it’d mean anyone in New Zealand, not just wholesale investors, could buy shares in this unique investment opportunity.”

TDG announced earlier this year it has bred the world’s first team of Jersey bulls that all carry the dominant “Slick” gene – meaning daughters of these bulls are certain to exhibit heat tolerant traits. Cows with the Slick gene cope better in tropical climates, mitigating heat stress and improving milk production for countries with some of the world’s greatest deficits of protein.

To date, the Slick gene has been bred into Holsteins, Crossbreeds and Jerseys, leading to the TDG herd being the largest and most diverse slick-breeding herd in the world.

Following TDG’s planned 2022 public offering, investors will have the opportunity to trade TDG’s shares every six months, in a secondary market, on the Catalist exchange.

Interested investors should sign up for a Catalist account and go to TDG’s private market page to request access. For more information, contact

Posted in Animal & Pasture Farming

The future of farming: What will NZ’s agri sector look like in 20 years?

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

This article is sourced from

Written by Catherine Harris | Senior Business Journalist

One thing you can be certain about in the agricultural sector is that it’s always changing. Adaption is a constant for farmers, as sure as the weather.

But the challenges farming is currently facing are some of the greatest the sector’s ever had: climate change, environmental constraints, labour shortages and shipping issues.

Which raises a question: will these be the same challenges farming is facing in 10 or 20 years?

The Government has already been contemplating this question. Last June, the Ministry for Primary Industries put out “Fit for a better world,” a game plan to accelerate farming’s potential.

The plan is to add $44 billion in value to export earnings within the next decade, restore our rivers to health in a generation, and lower our methane emissions.

It also aims to see 10 per cent more New Zealanders employed in the food and fibre sector by 2030. That’s 10,000 more workers in the next four years.

These are ambitious targets, but a variety of experts consulted by Stuff agreed farming could not stand still. So what does the future look like?


Ask Brendan O’Connell about the future and he’ll fall back on an old adage: “The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed”.

O’Connell who heads up the industry-led body AgritechNZ, is at the forefront of many inspiring New Zealand-based farming tech companies.

He reels off a few – remote herd management tool Halter, accelerated plant growth company BioLumic, and WayBeyond, which uses AI and big data to improve and predict the yields of hothouse crops.

These companies point to a huge rise in the precision and convenience of farming in coming years.

O’Connell says farmers have already seen a first wave of technology in terms of labour-saving devices.

“The next wave of technology, and you’re seeing it already, is the stuff that actually brings new insights, measuring things that weren’t measured before, or at a greater level of detail than before.”

A robotic apple picker at one of T&G Global’s orchards in Hawke’s Bay.

Expect also more innovation geared at solving pressing issues like labour and methane.

Automation is our labour-starved orchards is already being used but it’s yet to become commonplace.

“It’s going to be a gradual adjustment,” O’Connell says.

“I don’t think you’ll see robots coming in and replacing all workers in any farming system overnight. What you’ll start seeing is more automation used to maybe take the peak of picking requirements, to flatten that out … so that humans can follow afterwards and pick up the bulk.”

WayBeyond uses AI to give farmers more data and certainty around yield, quality, shape, colour and taste. Darryn Keiler hopes that one day it will be rolled out to more traditional crops too.

There are promising signs for our greenhouse gas problem, too. The Cawthron Institute’s new algae research centre in Nelson is researching a red native seaweed which trials show could inhibit methane in stock by as much as 80 per cent when added to a feed supplement.

Darryn Keiller​, WayBeyond’s chief executive, says his company only became possible with technological advances a few years ago.

Future farmers would be facing more demands around water, regulatory changes, food safety and now greenhouse gases. “So our role is to help them manage all that complexity”.

Keiller says New Zealand biotech and agriculture science is world-leading but it desperately needs more investment from the Government and venture capitalists.

“There’s just not enough funding here. Innovating in this space is expensive, especially if you want the reach to be global not just local.”

Kiwifruit is horticulture’s star performer and has made breeding for the customer an art form.


Few people would argue with the goal of creating $44b in added export value, least of all Professor Caroline Saunders, head of Lincoln University agribusiness and economic research unit.

“Historically New Zealand farming has tended to be a culture of low cost and the truth is that nothing from New Zealand should be low cost, it should be high value.”

Saunders’ team at Lincoln has been working on a tool which shows how much sub-groups in key markets are prepared to pay.

For instance, she says, zero carbon and more sugary kiwifruit sells much better than ordinary kiwifruit in Japan, winning much higher premiums even though it results in less fruit.

“I can see a shift in New Zealand agriculture – being pushed by the market but pulled by the regulations on water and greenhouse gas emissions – towards high value products that maybe we won’t produce as much but we will get a lot more money for.”


It used to be said that New Zealand lived off the sheep’s back. But that was before the development of synthetics.

Wool prices are now so low that until recently, it was hardly worth the cost of the shearer.

As a result, farmers began breeding sheep for the meat market, and the national flock dwindled, from a heady 70 million in the early 80s to just 28 million in 2018.

However, wool has started to enjoy a revival.

Allbirds, sneaker of choice for many celebrities, was co-created by All White Tim Brown. The company recently filed to list on the Nasdaq.

Merino wool has found a niche in clothing, wool sneaker company Allbirds has found global success and carpet maker Bremworth has moved completely back to wool.

Last year Timaru inventor Logan Williams unveiled a sustainable alternative to plastic, blending strong wool with a polymer base.

His company Shear Edge’s first commercial order with Victory Knives was released recently and sold out within hours.

“Imagine pellets for injection moulding machines, except instead of plastic … the pallets are made of wool. That’s exactly what we’ve done.”

Federated Farmers general manager of policy Nick Clark says the productivity coming out of the sheep sector is testimony to the efficiencies it’s managed to extract.

“If you look back to 1990, that flock number has roughly halved but production is about the same as what it was then,” he says. If it can keep that up, there’s “absolutely a healthy industry there”.


In contrast to wool, dairy farming has been the rich cousin.

But there’s a growing feeling that dairy’s heavy pressure on the environment has tipped the industry into “peak cow”.

In the last 20 years, the average dairy herd has grown 236 to 440 cows. But in the next decade it’s estimated that dairy cattle numbers could fall 13 per cent.

Climate change is, without doubt, the most significant risk for farming, and it’s putting an urgent focus on what farmers put in the air and water.

More than 80 per cent of New Zealand’s methane emissions comes from ruminant farm animals and methane makes up nearly half of all the country’s greenhouse gases. Thus, not charging farmers for their carbon has been controversial.

The He Waka Eke Noa programme is helping farmers determine by 2025 what their carbon footprint is, in an effort to price farming emissions outside the Emissions Trading Scheme.

This Hawke’s Bay farm uses regenerative farming, which aims to protect the soil and encourage a diversity environment.

Faced with increasing water and fertiliser restrictions as well, some farmers are turning to regenerative farming, a method which focuses on soil health and diversity.

However, Dr Scott Larned​, Niwa’s chief scientist of freshwater and estuaries, says there’s no longer enough time to prove that regenerative farming can adequately protect the environment.

And for that reason, he backs the ambition of the Government’s water reforms.

He hopes farmers will view them positively.

“I’m concerned that the science isn’t moving fast enough and the primary sector isn’t coming up with all the land use [solutions} fast enough, but I’m also optimistic.

“New Zealand is better placed than anywhere in the world to recover from pollution and freshwater degredation.

“If any place can turn it around, New Zealand can.”

The future is expected to bring a lot more “vertical farming” which grows plants in stacked controlled environments, often hydroponically. 26 Seasons co-founder Matt Keltie is part of the emerging local scene.

Another trend farmers will continue to grapple is changing land use, and a shrinking amount of productive land.

Prime horticultural land is being lost to housing, lifestyle blocks are multiplying, and dairying’s rapid expansion in the last 12 years has converted much pastoral land.

But as dairy conversions seem set to slow, forestry is emerging as a big competitor for sheep and beef land.

The carbon price will be a clincher as to how the sheep versus forestry battle ends, Clark says.

On one hand, logs and carbon credits can be a handy income stream for farmers. On the other, many farmers fear rural communities could be hollowed out if vast swathes of land are replaced in pines.

“If they get it, right it’ll be very helpful and it could actually result in meaningful emissions reductions without having horrific economic impacts. But if they get it wrong, it could be pretty messy.”

Lab-grown chicken made by US start-up Eat Just made its debut last year at a restaurant in Singapore.


The wildcard for New Zealand’s future farming hand is what the consumer wants to eat.

And increasingly the tide is heading towards less red meat. The New Zealand meat industry’s position that world population growth isn’t slowing and there will be plenty of mouths to feed.

However, it’s up against a steady shift in consumer behaviour away from red meat, due to diet, price and environmental convictions.

As futuristic as it seems, there are companies already setting up in New Zealand to produce plant-based protein and cellular (lab-grown) meat.

But O’Connell says natural meat is by no means on the way out. “Firstly, there will always be a place for high quality food,” he says.

AgriTechNZ’s Brendan O’Connell expects lab-grown meat will eventually be embraced because it will be cheap.

“Two, I think a lot of the connections people make around livestock or the food New Zealand is famous for, they … think all livestock farming is the same all round the planet.

“Yes, the planet can’t sustain the amount of livestock that we’ve got but actually, the way we farm in New Zealand is sustainable.”

All the same, he expects cellular meat to do well, firstly because it doesn’t require productive land and secondly, because it will be cheap.

“It’ll look very attractive [to people] if they put it together as a spaghetti bolognaise or chilli carne,” he says.

Some people believe New Zealand should stick to its strengths and leave meat alternatives to other countries.

But Darryn Keiller thinks New Zealand ignores exploring meat substitutes at its peril.

“My personal opinion is that that’s a flawed strategy. That might work, say, for the next five years, but if people truly do their homework and look at what’s happening in the shift of dietary behaviour in the major markets, and the ascendency of cellular and plant based proteins … it’s massive.

“If we don’t get on that train, we’re going to be left behind.”

O’Connell is less convinced but says the very good science that New Zealanders develop around food systems could be an export on its own.

“Even if we don’t produce food from New Zealand that’s of that type, we can still produce the science that will help feed the world, even if the science is implemented in other parts of the world.”

Posted in Animal & Pasture Farming

Major lessons from Ireland last week. New Zealand’s dairy sector take note.

Monday, September 23rd, 2019

I am reflecting on last week’s truly epic visit to Ireland by the New Zealand agritech delegation.

I thought I had a reasonable handle on the state of the country’s dairy sector. Smaller family-owned farms (average herd size of approx. 80 cows), pasture-based, herringbone milking sheds and no lack of rain. Whilst this reflects the reality on the ground, I hadn’t fully understood its implication. The fact that smaller family-owned farms have been handed down over several generations means that there is relatively little (land) farm debt. The other major change in the dairy landscape was triggered 5 years ago when the EC removed milk quotas. It means that milk production has increased by 50% over the last 5 years; a trend that is likely to continue.

This all coincides at a time when Ireland’s beef sector is struggling (our visit coincided with major protests, pickets and layoffs at many of the country’s largest processors). Farm gate prices for beef are at pretty much an all-time low. This is likely to see many more dairy conversions as dry stock farmers convert to dairy. To sum up: Herd sizes are growing, production will increase and more players are entering the market.

One of the key findings of our visit was that this growth is being supported by significant public and industry investment into dairy research. On Thursday, the delegation (pictured above) visited Teagasc at Moorepark, just outside Fermoy in County Cork. Teagasc – the Agriculture and Food Development Authority – is the national body providing integrated research, advisory and training services to the agriculture and food industry and rural communities.

We learnt a lot more about the Irish dairy landscape. This included a visit to the Teagasc robotic dairy farm. This is automating a significant amount of on-farm process. It’s driving down costs and the cows looked happy enough to me. They get to choose when they go to the milking shed and there, the robots get to work. Not a person in sight.

Driving much of this research is VistaMilk, the SRI Research Centre for precision-based dairy production and processing. The research programme has been designed to develop new, and advance existing electronic monitoring and actuation technologies to transform Ireland’s dairy sector into a global leader in sustainable agritech. It will specifically address pasture-based dairy production, improved processability and the generation of novel, higher-value-added products. In addition to the creation of new sensing and actuation paradigms, particular focus will be given to developing state-of-the-art analytical techniques applied to largescale, sensor data-sets delivered by advanced network and communication technologies.

The programme is supported by 28 industry partners. Through what appears to be a strategy of highly-interconnected innovative scientific ventures and disciplines, VistaMilk will develop and deploy scientific solutions, informed by sophisticated data analytical approaches, to support Ireland’s dairy sector.

It’s time for the New Zealand dairy sector to take note.

Ordinarily, I would leave it that. Not this time however. In order to engage more directly with the Irish agritech sector, we are looking at ways to deepen the connection. Next week, I am speaking to the team at DogPatch Labs in Dublin to test the case for a formal landing pad for New Zealand agritech companies seeking to enter the Irish market. The delegation visited DogPatch Labs on Friday and we were all impressed. Finistere Ventures, a Farm2050 partner, are based on-site, as are representatives from Irish agritech heavyweight, Alltech. I visited the facility last December during the AgTech Nexus Europe conference. Impressed then. Impressed now.

I’ll provide an update on next week’s talks. Ireland offers New Zealand agritech companies similar pastoral farming systems to those back home. Its dairy sector is expanding rapidly. It also offers a dual hemisphere opportunity to speed up R&D and in-market field trials. It’s an opportunity that we will seek to leverage through increased collaboration and cooperation.

In short, we’ll be back.

Posted in Animal & Pasture Farming