Andrew Humphries, from AgriTrack, checks the location of
machinery working on an Australian farm. Photo by Craig
It was while driving a tractor in Australia that Andrew
Humphries came up with the idea of a software system to track
After growing up on a sheep and beef farm near Gore, he
headed to the University of Canterbury where he spent a year
studying computer engineering.
He then returned to the farm for four years, flying to
Western Australia each year to drive seeding rigs during the
April-June seeding season.
He could be working in a paddock 5km square and not know what
anyone else was doing in it. With changes in shifts, other
workers ''wouldn't have a clue'' what had been done.
Knowing the application idea was technically possible, Mr
Humphries created a test application which he took over with
him, with two tablets, on his fifth season.
The software system used iPad/Android tablets and
iPhone/Android phones to live-track farm vehicles.
It allowed all users to see where all other users were on
satellite imagery and he believed not many other systems did
that. It could ''save a lot of stuff-ups'', he said.
His boss loved the idea so much that, within 30 minutes, he
had rung his wife who was in Perth that day and asked her to
buy seven more tablets to put in each of his main vehicles.
That proved to be a defining moment and, buoyed by that
enthusiasm, Mr Humphries spent the next two months driving 13
hours a day and then sending emails to his developers,
progressively improving the application.
Towards the end of the season, he showed it to another large
farmer in the area and he instantly purchased the system for
all of his vehicles.
After returning to New Zealand, Mr Humphries put plans of
doing a computer science degree on hold, secured investment
and created the company AgriTrack Ltd last year.
The AgriTrack system was now being demonstrated and tested on
a small number of large New Zealand farms. He believed there
was potential for the product on larger New Zealand farms.
Now settled in Dunedin with his wife and son, Mr Humphries
planned to fly back to Western Australia in March, a month
before the seeding season began.
The Australian market was ''huge'' and he also felt it was
only a short time before some of the big agricultural
machinery companies, such as John Deere, launched the same
''Others will catch up. I'm very keen on keeping ahead of
them,'' he said.
Acknowledging it was a ''big call'' to set up a business, Mr
Humphries said it had been a a lot to learn as he came to
grips with running a business. Dunedin was proving to be a
low-cost base from which to operate.