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Powered by Place: The Future of Farming is Here!

Monday, June 6th, 2022

Discover the future of farming right here in New Zealand!  Meet Kiwi agritech innovators Darryn Keiller, Jason Wargent and Tijs Robinson. They’re helping change how we feed the world.  View now.

Rolling pastures, dairy cows contentedly chewing the cud, thousands of sheep on a high country station or juicy stone fruit freshly picked from an orchard.  The new reality for farming is very different as food production transitions to an efficient indoor model using tech, data and innovation.  It’s a business model, combining ground breaking science and innovation technology that is going global.

The perfect storm

The urgency for more sustainable growth of fresh produce is being driven by changing consumer preferences, greater awareness of environmental impacts and carbon footprints.

“The need for the industry to transform is obvious.  We have to move towards a digital and data driven model that is less reliant on knowledge workers and manual labour.  It’s not just about technology, it’s about how we farm and grow our food.  We’ve got to change,” says WayBeyond’s Darry Keiller. 

“We’re trying to solve these really gnarly global problems,” he says when describing the challenge of working with the horticulture industry to sustainably grow food to feed the world.  Read more.

Baked-in benefits 

While WayBeyond is focused on bringing growers into the data age, BioLumic is shining a light on the untapped potential that exists in the crops we grow.  Their world-first tech delivers ultralviolet light to trigger biological mechanisms that increase plant growth, vigour and yields. 

“We can come up with a light recipe to unlock a plant’s potential at different stages, starting with the seed.  We call it a light recipe because it’s essentially like baking a cake.  You need to combine the right ingredients for the magic to happen,” he says, adding that it requires a paradigm shift. 

“We’re building a whole new biological understanding and biology is hard.  But you have to ride the roller coaster if you want to have a real, meaningful impact on the world,” says Jason.  Read more.

Carbon champions

Currently, most greenhouses use natural gas to generate the carbon dioxide (CO2) they need to feed their plants.  But locally and worldwide, there is a push to move away from fossil based fuels to more renewable sources.  Hot Lime Labs has a solution, converting wood waste biomass into clean CO2 for commercial greenhouses.

“We’ve jumped on the wave at the right time.  The world is looking for clean, green solutions; the climate’s not going to become more predictable, land prices aren’t going down and the demand for fresh fruit and vegetables is not going to reduce.  These trends are only going in one direction,” says Hot Lime Lab’s Tijs Robinson.  Read more.

We’d love to hear your stories!

Is connection to the land important to you? What does ‘place’ mean to you and your business? It might be where you grew up, where your business is based, or the unique characteristics of the region you live in. 

We’d love to hear your stories to help inspire other Kiwi agritech entrepreneurs.  Please contact us.

Ngā mihi

Brendan O’Connell

Posted in Horticulture Tech, AgriTechNZ News

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

From Blenheim to Bordeaux and beyond! 

Thursday, February 3rd, 2022

Local agritec​h startup Cropsy Technologies has successfully completed its first capital raise, with the award-winning company raising $1.5 million in an over-subscribed round.  This will enable Cropsy to commercialise its world first AI-enabled crop vision system.

Cropsy combines mobile, continuous and GPS-tracked high-definition image capture, with AI-enabled software to analyse crops and aid decision making for growers.

The technology enables growers to identify pests and diseases early, for targeted spraying and reduced crop loss, as well as efficiently understanding crop growth and saving time for vineyard and orchard managers. It will boost sustainability goals for growers by ensuring resources are not applied when not needed.

Attached to a tractor and powered by the tractor battery, the system sees and understands every single plant while a grower runs their daily crop operations, profiling every leaf, fruit, shoot, cane, and trunk in real-time as the tractor passes by.

“There’s nothing better than seeing our system out there in the field, and creating tech that will be accessible to every grower,” says Cropsy’s Leila Deljkovic who met Ali Alomari, as engineering students at Auckland University. They were then joined by fellow co-founders Rory Buchanan and Winston Su.

Ali says it is humbling to be backed by New Zealand’s finest in AgTech, and their innovative, early-adopter customers who they couldn’t do their work without. 

“This capital injection enables us to reach our goal of looking after 10 million vines by the end of 2023,” says Ali.

Initially focussed on grapevines, Cropsy will expand into apples and oranges.

Posted in Horticulture Tech

VIDEO: Unique NZ agritech robotic technology supports US asparagus growers address major labor challenge

Sunday, September 29th, 2019

In August 2018, Agritech New Zealand signed a strategic partnership agreement with Western Growers, the largest producers of fresh produce in North America.

A key focus of the agreement was on the #1 challenge facing many US growers of specialty crops. Labor. The lack of and the cost of.

Several specialty crop sectors are under real pressure. Asparagus is one of them. A number of growers have already set up shop south of the border where growing conditions and the availability of labor are conducive to asparagus growing. Speaking to growers in California, it became quickly apparent that unless more automation could be introduced into the field, particularly harvesting, the industry in the US probably had no more than 3 years to survive. Labor issues were so serious that growing asparagus was becoming an uneconomic activity.

I was aware of the work of Professor Mike Duke and a team of researchers at the University of Waikato. They were working on developing a prototype asparagus harvester. A meeting with Mike in Hamilton and calls with Dennis Donohue at the Western Growers Technology and Innovation Center in Salinas, connected the two. Mike travelled to Salinas to meet affected growers and a few weeks later, the Waikato prototype harvester was being trialed on US asparagus grower properties. The University of Waikato’s commercialisation partner, Robotics Plus, supported the initiative. A major template for future engagement had been established.

The video below tells the story of this unique partnership. It demonstrates the significance of the strategic partnership agreement signed last year and provides an insight into how New Zealand agritech technology can help address global challenges. The good news is that not only can we build new channels to global markets, we can also deploy these technologies at home to help New Zealand growers scale their operations.

We are grateful to New Zealand Trade & Enterprise for supporting the build of the story video.

Posted in Horticulture Tech