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AgriTechNZ News: Glancing Back To Forge Ahead

Monday, July 19th, 2021

Sometimes it’s useful to glance backwards and reflect, as you forge ahead. This week we had our Annual Meeting and reviewed the year beginning in April, 2020. Just one week earlier, we had entered COVID-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown and the year became a defining moment in our lifetime. Thankfully, the impact on our activities was not as dramatic as it potentially could have  been. It was a solid year for AgriTechNZ as we firmly stepped away from establishment and planning, and strengthened our capability to collaborate on unleashing New Zealand’s agritech expertise locally and globally.

Last year was active, as we developed our online skills and revelled in the opportunities to get together once we were able to. We had several thousand webinar registrations, squeezed in eight regional Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) updates, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with AusAgritech, released the 
Aotearoa Agritech Unleashed Report and grew our membership to over 160 proactive organisations!

Speaking of strengthening our capability, at our Annual Meeting we announced the member representative election results for three positions on the Executive Council. We are delighted to confirm that Juliet Ansell from Zespri now joins Dan O’Brien from AWS to represent our Major Corporate members. Bridgit Hawkins from CropX joins Kenneth Irons from Precision Farming to represent SME members and Sophie Rebbeck from Lincoln Agritech was reelected and works with Peter Nation from the New Zealand National Fieldays Society representing Other Corporates. Even though Dion Cawood from LIC and Dan Bloomer from Landwise have stepped back from the Council, we’re already focused on ways to continue benefiting from their experience and wisdom. They have both been foundational in the creation of AgriTechNZ and the sector owes them a great deal.

We had 17 nominations for the three election seats. This is a great measure of the level of interest and engagement that is driving the growth of our sector. For those who were not successful this year, and for anyone wanting to play a more active role, please know we will continue creating opportunities for you to be involved.

Recently, we confirmed the makeup of our Agritech Leaders Data Reference Group with 11 representatives across our membership groups, regions and sector interests. We had over 50 expressions of interest and will keep everyone informed on the group’s strategies and work. If you would like to be kept updated, please drop us a note at

We have also received expressions of interest for the Agritech Skills Reference Group and will finalise this within the next week. This is an important focus for us all, as access to the right skills and talent may well be the biggest headwind we will face in growing the sector. It’s an issue we share with other groups in New Zealand. We will be collaborating with NZTech, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and other groups to align our activity. Again, if this is of particular interest, please email us to be added to the stakeholder updates.

We’re also in the final stages of a significant website update which will see the addition of a rich source of resources. We’re working with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) and Callaghan Innovation to share information across a range of topics. For example, one of the opportunities to  be showcased is Bayer’s global Grants4Ag program. The annual program awards researchers and scientists for sustainable solutions to agricultural challenges. If you would like to know more, please join the webinar on 26 July.

In other news, as a country partner for Farm 2050, we invite you to apply before 30 July for a New Zealand trial assessment. Farm 2050 is an initiative to validate new technologies in nutrient management whilst building valuable links and opportunities for counter seasonal trials in the Northern Hemisphere.

Earlier this month, AgriTechNZ attended the Primary Industries Summit hosted by Federated Farmers. It was an impressive gathering of leaders and influencers.  The Summit recognised the role innovation is playing in our primary industries. Congratulations to all the Awards winners, especially our members like Emma Boase from Horticulture New Zealand.

In the next few weeks we partner with the IoT Alliance and BioTechNZ to host several events. Join us on 27 July in Christchurch to discuss connectivity and connected on-farm devices. We will explore the current state and future potential for connected agritech solutions. On 4 August, we’ll be in Palmerston North discussing the pressing need for developments in cellular agriculture and gene editing to secure access to food for future generations.

There is plenty happening in the sector and it’s deservedly gaining attention to foster growth and impact.  Please stay in touch so we can help you make the most of the opportunities.

Ngā mihi

Chief Executive
AgriTech New Zealand

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Posted in AgriTechNZ News


Monday, July 5th, 2021

Adoption of technology by end users underpins every agritech business’ existence.

While great work which has been completed within subsectors of the Primary Industry or by companies with their end users, there is a lack of visibility of the relative adoption of technology, how these change over time and, importantly, what can be done to affect it over time.

AgriTechNZ in association with key industry partners have commenced a longitudinal study focused on resolving these issues. The work will support existing sub-sector research whilst enabling partners to leverage insights into their digital road maps and/or outreach programmes.   

Following an RFP, we have appointed insights agency, Research First as the delivery partner for the survey. Research First brings extensive experience in designing and delivering longitudinal studies within the rural sector and is highly regarded for its skill in using data to inform strategic thinking.

The project aims will provide visibility into the maturity of the practices within different primary industry sectors, the value that precision practices provide along with the drivers of adoption of digital tools and how these change over time.

We are in the process of designing the survey with input from our industry partners.

Industry partners will have access to detailed responses from the survey, providing  valuable insights digital adoption as it relates to their sector. This will greatly assist them in defining their digital and outreach strategies.

Our core industry partners are;

We are working closely with the Agritech ITP to ensure that the measurements can help the measure the ITP’s effectiveness.

If you would like to know more or become a partner, please reach out to

Posted in General

Second batch of 2021 videos are live – E Tipu 2021

Wednesday, June 16th, 2021

The second batch of speaker videos from E Tipu 2021: The Boma NZ Agri Summit are live for you to view and share, including the stellar summit highlights reel.

To watch all the E Tipu 2021 videos and receive alerts when new talks are added, subscribe to the Boma Global YouTube channel.

>>> View the E Tipu 2021 summit highlights

>>> Bookmark the E Tipu 2021 video playlist

Jono Frew

Co-Founder, Quorum Sense


Dr. Steve Meller

Founder, CH4 Global


Melissa Clark-Reynolds ONZM

Director, Atkins Ranch


Tangaroa Walker

Founder, Farm 4 Life


Mike Taitoko

CEO, Calm the Farm


Miranda Burdon

Co-Founder, Food Nation


Tané Hunter

Co-Founder, Future Crunch


Posted in General

E Tipu 2021

Thursday, June 10th, 2021

The first batch of speaker videos from E Tipu 2021: The Boma NZ Agri Summit are live for you to view and share.

Subscribe to the Boma Global YouTube channel and receive alerts when new talks are added to the E Tipu 2021 playlist.

>>> Subscribe to the Boma Global YouTube channel

>>> Bookmark the E Tipu 2021 video playlist

Paul Polman

Co-founder and chair

IMAGINE; former CEO, Unilever


Geoff Ross

Founder, 42BELOW Vodka; director, Lake Hawea Station


Louisa Burwood-Taylor

Chief Editor, AgFunder; Founder, Agri Investor


Sir Ian Taylor

Founder, Animation Research Ltd; Co-Founder, HyperFarm


Loan Williams

Founder, Keravos; Director, The NEw Zealand Merino Company


Nicole Masters

Director, Integrity Soils; Author, “For the love of soil”


Posted in General

July Newletter – Unleashing New Zealands Agritech Innovation

Monday, July 6th, 2020

Welcome to perhaps the busiest month for New Zealand’s agritech sector this year! Get your diary ready to lock in July’s significant dates.

The New Zealand Agritech Story Workshops

If you haven’t registered to attend yet, free seats are still available on 15 July in Auckland16 July in Hamilton and 21 July in Lincoln. One of the key priorities of the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP) is to ensure New Zealand’s Agritech Story reflects the global agritech landscape post COVID-19. We are hosting three workshops over the next two weeks to provide industry with the opportunity to input directly into that Story.

Fieldays TV

While the traditional National Fieldays was cancelled, the team at Mystery Creek are hosting a free event, Fieldays Online, 13-26 July. We have partnered once again, hosting four Fieldays TV programmes on 13, 15, 20 and 22 July. Each session is broadcast live from 2.00pm – 2.30pm. Once registered to attend Fieldays Online, you can access these sessions from any digital device.

Monday 13 July – The launch of the Trans-Tasman Water Challenge

Learn more about this initiative which is bringing together key researchers and startups from both sides of the Tasman, to address the critical issue of water and its impact on agriculture.

Wednesday 15 July – The launch of the TIN Agritech Report

The Technology Investment Network (TIN) are releasing their first ever analysis of the size and scope of New Zealand’s agritech sector. Who are the major players, their revenues and areas of expertise?

Monday 20 July – The Agritech New Zealand Practitioner Working Group

Learn more about the significant work being undertaken by the Practitioner Working Group, including its focus on developing agriculture data standards and regulation fit for purpose.

Wednesday 22 July – The future of on-farm Robotics and Automation

Tune in for a fascinating panel discussion on how robotics and automation are set to transform many on-farm and on-orchard agricultural and horticultural processes.

The Formal Launch of the Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP)

We are delighted to host the formal launch of the Agritech ITP in Tauranga on Tuesday 21 July. We will be joined by Ministers Phil Twyford and Damien O’Connor as industry celebrates this major milestone.

This occasion will also see the launch of our major research report, Aotearoa Agritech Unleashed. The report analyses the impact of the agritech sector on the country’s economy. It contains a number of recommendations to significantly lift the productivity, size and profitability of the sector.

Techweek 2020

Agritech New Zealand joins Techweek2020, 27 July-2 August. 

Tuesday 28 July 2.00pm – 2.30pm
Following its launch, what does the Agritech ITP mean for the sector going forward? Featuring David Downs, Agritech ITP lead and myself. This session will be broadcast live on Techweek TV.

Wednesday 29 July 11.00am – 12.00pm
Global head of Agritech at AWS, Elizabeth Fastiggi, will discuss Digital Innovation in Agriculture: AWS Customers Leading the Way to a Sustainable Future. Please register to attend.

Thursday 30 July 2.00pm – 3.00pm
Join this exclusive New Zealand and Singapore sponsored session as we hear from industry experts, technology providers and food producers on the role of technology for improving yields, optimising production methods and reducing waste, predicting demand, and safeguarding supply chains.
Please register to attend

It’s quite a list! I hope you can join us as we navigate the next three weeks. There are numerous opportunities to engage with, or simply listen to, global thought leaders in our space. Our time has come.

Ngā mihi

Peter Wren-Hilton
Executive Director
AgriTech New Zealand

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Posted in Archive

LIVE from Salinas, California: The New Zealand agritech delegation arrive to support US specialty crop growers address a major crisis

Sunday, June 23rd, 2019

Today a large delegation of experienced New Zealand agri robotic and automation researchers and entrepreneurs arrived in Salinas, Northern California. We are here to meet Agritech New Zealand partner, Western Growers, the largest producers of fresh produce in North America. 

That’s 50%+ of all fresh vegetables, 50%+ of all fresh fruits, 50%+ of all organics. This is big.

We are here to learn more about one of Western Grower members’ most significant challenges. Labour. Lack of and cost of. Whilst the US public focuses on the merits, or otherwise, of a Mexican wall, the sad reality for most North American farmers &  growers is that more Mexican farm labourers are returning home than heading north. The labour crisis here is real. And its costing growers. Big time.

I have worked for several months with the Agritech team at Callaghan Innovation (big nod to Nicky & Simon) to bring a large and experienced team of kiwi specialists to Salinas.  We have representatives from;

  • AgResearch
  • Agritech New Zealand
  • Auckland University
  • Callaghan Innovation
  • CR Automation
  • Figured
  • GPS-IT
  • Lincoln Agritech
  • Massey University
  • New Zealand Trade & Enterprise
  • Plant & Food Research
  • PlantTech
  • Robotics Plus
  • TracMap
  • Uniservices
  • Waikato University
  • Zespri

It’s a fantastic group. We are here for a week and we are here to get stuff done.

I am writing this post during our Monday (PST) lunchtime break. This morning we have been on-farm looking at three crops; Romaine, Lettuce & Broccoli. This afternoon we are joining the Western Growers Trial meeting here at the WG Innovation & Technology Center in Salinas. This is when we will discuss the opportunity for conducting field trials of NZ agritech on Western Grower properties. This is when the rubber really hits the road.

Western Growers provides a huge commercial pathway for New Zealand agritech in the global specialty crop market. For context, according to a report published by Persistence Market Research in March 2018, the global specialty crops market is expected to witness a CAGR of 3.7%. from a valuation of US$ 1,382.3 Bn in 2017, to touch a valuation of US$ 1,842.3 Bn by the end of 2025. That’s NZD 2.77 trillion. Go figure.

It’s a massive opportunity, but for US growers, it’s also a massive challenge. Margins in this sector are often in the 3%-5% range. That’s tops. Increasing labour costs are wiping this out. The need to automate on-farm processes, particularly the harvesting of crops, is therefore front & centre for these growers. And this is where this week’s New Zealand’s agri robotic and automation delegation come in.

Back in August last year, Agritech New Zealand & Western Growers signed a strategic partnership agreement. It was designed in part to address this challenge. In case you missed it, this is what Western Growers had to say about it on US TV:

Tomorrow, we are in the field again, this time in Watsonville talking to growers of strawberries and other berry products. A major outcome of these discussions is that the technologies that we are focusing on this week will help growers back home; kiwifruit in the Bay of Plenty, apples in the Hawkes Bay and grapes in Marlborough. All suffer seasonal labour shortages and all will benefit from the increased application of on-farm and in-orchard harvesting automation.

This mission is one of the most significant I have been on. It’s not just about learning about real on-farm experience in a general sense. It’s about enabling New Zealand’s agritech sector to understand and address a very specific grower need. And to do so in a very big market.

We have a major week ahead.

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

Joint Statement from Agritech New Zealand and PAANZ

Sunday, June 9th, 2019

TAURANGA; 11 JUNE 2019: New Zealand’s leading independent organisations promoting the adoption and development of agri-technology – Agritech New Zealand ( and the Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand ( are in discussions regarding a merger to form a single entity representing the entire agritech ecosystem in Aotearoa.

Since 2012, the Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand has supported on-farm adoption of new technology through hosting field events, workshops and conferences around New Zealand. In the last year, Agritech New Zealand has raised the profile of New Zealand’s agritech strengths internationally and has attracted new capital investment and government policy focus.

Bringing together the real-world experiences of farmers and growers working to adopt new technology in their business, with a strong focus on supporting investment in, and development of, new agri-technology to improve primary production, would be a potent combination.

The executive committees of both organisations are excited at the potential to create a unified approach in the development and application of new high-tech capabilities for agriculture. They look forward to defining mutually agreeable terms for a merger that reflect the best interests of the existing members of each organisation.

Media contact details;

Roger Robson-Williams; Chair of the Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand: 021 926210

Peter Wren-Hilton, Executive Director of Agritech New Zealand: 021 791120

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

Major International Speakers announced for Agritech Unleashed.

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Agritech New Zealand is delighted to announce its line-up of major international speakers for Agritech Unleashed – the one-day innovation event taking place during National Fieldays 2019.

Created in association with NZ National Fieldays Society and generously sponsored by the Ministry of Primary Industries, Agritech Unleashed is taking place in the Bledisloe Function Centre at Mystery Creek on Thursday 13 June.

The Agritech New Zealand Invitation Special!

On 23 May 2018, Agritech New Zealand was formally launched at the ’10 billion mouths’ conference in Tauranga. To celebrate our first anniversary today, we are offering readers of this post, the opportunity to apply for a free ticket to attend the Agritech Unleashed event.

This is an exceptional opportunity to hear from some of the most influential players in the global agritech & agribusiness sector. There are 5 key sessions during the event. To reserve your seat, please select your chosen session here.  If you have not yet purchased your National Fieldays ticket, please do so here

The Hon Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture and Minister for Biosecurity, Food Safety, and Rural Communities will be speaking at Agritech Unleashed. The Minister will be joined by a number of other high-profile domestic speakers.

This post however is focusing on some of the major international speakers and delegates who have travelled to New Zealand for the event.

Our international speakers include;

Alexey Rostapshov: Head of Digital Innovation, John Deere

Based in San Francisco, as Head of Digital Innovation at John Deere, Alexey has been tasked with building the world’s leading digital platform for precision agriculture. Previously, as co-founder & COO at Mavrx, an aerial imagery & data analytics firm serving the agriculture industry, Alexey built a diverse team that designed and scaled the largest global imaging network dedicated to crop monitoring (covering 250 million acres using light aircraft & UAVs).

Arama Kukutai: Co-founder & Managing Director of Finistere Ventures

Arama is of Ngati Maniapoto, Tainui and Te Aupouri descent on his father’s side and spent his formative years in South Taranaki’s dairy sector. Today, based in San Diego, Arama co-founded Finistere Ventures and has led the creation of Finistere’s global network which includes offices in Tel Aviv, San Diego and Silicon Valley, and Dublin, Ireland. Finistere has invested in several New Zealand agritech companies including Biolumic, Zeakal, CropX and most recently Invert Robotics.

Richard O’Gorman: Director, Rabobank Food & Agriculture Innovation Fund

Based in the Netherlands, Richard joined Rabo Private Equity in 2010 and focuses on Rabobank’s international F&A venture capital and private equity activities. Richard serves on several Investment Committees and Advisory Boards for Rabobank’s portfolio of F&A funds and is closely involved in a range of Rabobank F&A innovation activities currently being carried out.

Michael Levin: Founder & Managing Director, Germin8

Based in Chicago, Michael founded Germin8 Ventures, which is a venture capital fund seeking to improve the global food system and is innovative in its own right, providing both investment and strategic resources to the exceptional founders of transformative food and agritech companies around the world. Michael oversees Germin8’s investing and operations, as well as actively participates on the boards of invested companies.

Sara Ahmed-Holman: Investment Analyst, Innovation Endeavor & Farm2050

Innovation Endeavors was founded in 2010 by Eric Schmidt and Dror Berman.  Innovation Endeavor’s investment and portfolio support teams are located in three major regions of innovation: Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv, and New York City. Based in Palo Alto, Sara co-wrote the Farm2050 Nutrient white paper and will be keynoting this session at Agritech Unleashed.

Han Chen: CEO of Zeakal

ZeaKal, Inc. is a next generation trait technology company. Its focus is on increasing the photosynthetic capacity of plants — allowing crops to harvest more sunlight and carbon dioxide and translating it into more grains, seeds and fiber. Originally, much of the science came out of AgResearch in New Zealand. Today, based in San Diego, Han Chen has just signed a major global R&D partnership with Corteva Agriscience, the agriculture division of Dow DuPont.

Our international speakers are part of a larger delegation of international guests that Agritech New Zealand, in conjunction with New Zealand Trade & Enterprise, is hosting. It is providing New Zealand’s agritech sector with the opportunity to build deeper engagement opportunities with key global players.

We hope you can join us at the Bledisloe Function Centre on Thursday 13 June.

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

Agritech New Zealand & Callaghan Innovation to lead major agritech delegation to the US next month

Tuesday, May 14th, 2019

At the end of next month, Agritech New Zealand & Callaghan Innovation are supporting a major kiwi agritech delegation attend the Forbes Live conference in Salinas, California.

A core focus of the delegation, which reflects its make-up, is on how New Zealand robotic, automation & sensing technologies can assist US growers address their single most important challenge. Labor. Lack of and cost of.

In August last year, Agritech New Zealand signed a partnership agreement with Western Growers, the largest producer of fresh produce in North America. Their members account for over 50% of all fruit and vegetable production. At the time of the signing, we were supporting another delegation of New Zealand agritech delegates as they took part in the 2018 Silicon Valley AgTech Immersion Program. In Central Valley, Northern California, we saw at first hand, on a tomato and water melon farm, the challenge. These farmers were hurting.

Since then, the situation has seriously deteriorated. Whole specialty crops are now at risk of either shutting down or moving out of the US. Mexico and other countries south are the major destination. So the sense of urgency is real and the opportunity for New Zealand agritech experts is now.

The first two days of our week in Salinas will involve meeting key representatives from different major grower associations. This will provide the delegation with a more in-depth understanding of the challenge and the core crops at risk. At the Forbes Live conference, we will be able to meet a number of the growers in person to better understand the challenge on-farm. I attended this event last year. It was one of the most productive US-based agtech-focused conferences I have attended.

It promises to be a hugely valuable week and Agritech New Zealand is delighted once again to be working with Callaghan Innovation to make this happen. When we return to New Zealand, we will sit down with delegation members to attempt to create an all of NZ approach to address the challenge.

Building new commercial pathways for New Zealand’s agritech expertise is a key purpose of Agritech New Zealand. Next month’s Salinas engagement is testament to that.

Posted in AgriTechNZ News

Government & industry are working together to build New Zealand’s agritech sector

Monday, April 1st, 2019

This guest post has been written by David Downs, the New Zealand ‘All of Government’ agritech taskforce lead.

Its clear why Agritech is part of New Zealand’s future, as well as our past and present. The first ever innovation in New Zealand related to agritech, with Māori settlers creating a mechanism to elongate the growing day by building small stone walls around the kumara pits, and burying stone chips in the soil to soak up the sun’s rays. The success of our primary production in New Zealand is due in large part of the agricultural and technological innovations which allowed for higher productivity and superior quality. Yes, there is still work to do with ensuring our practices are sustainable and environmentally friendly in some areas, but overall our agritech industry is a source of great comparative advantage for New Zealand.

So it’s no surprise that the government wants to join with industry to super-charge the sector. Ministers have asked officials (bureaucrats like me) to work out ways that we can tune the various levers of government intervention to assist agritech companies to grow bigger, better and faster – not just in New Zealand (assisting with the productivity of our agriculture, horticulture and aquiculture sectors) but also in terms of exports. Somewhat surprisingly, New Zealand exports of agritech have been almost flat for 5 years, which doesn’t accurately demonstrate the potential for the sector.

A couple of weeks ago, representatives from 5 government agencies joined with the industry group Agritech New Zealand, and a number of industry representatives, (pictured above) to plot our joint action plan for government and the sector. Our plan is to work together on initiatives which can accelerate the growth of the sector and the companies within it. We looked at things like skills, management capability and expertise. We looked at science and R&D focus, and how we can line up innovation towards a clear market demand. We looked at the levers of government incentives, funding and policy. At this stage the action plan is still in draft, but significant progress was made and we are on track to draft a national strategy for the sector, along with a clear set of tactics, in the next few months.

With innovation a core part of the kiwi DNA, and the Agritech space a clear opportunity for New Zealand to succeed, it’s good to see government working in partnership with industry on growing New Zealand’s agritech sector.

Posted in AgriTechNZ News