'Hyper farm' to aid land decision-making

Ian Taylor of Animation Research Ltd.
Ian Taylor of Animation Research Ltd.
Agresearch has teamed up with Dunedin tech company Animation Research Ltd to help farmers see the future.

The partnership is part of a research programme - the New Zealand Bioeconomy in the Digital Age (NZBIDA) - which has been designed to enable transformational change to the country's agricultural sector and supply chains.

As one strand of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment-funded programme, Dr Seth Laurenson and Dr Remy Lasseur are designing a "hyper farm" using ARL's world-renowned visualisation technology.

It helped landowners to see what their properties would look like as a result of any changes as well as understand how changes would affect water quality, finances, carbon sequestration and biodiversity among other factors, Dr Laurenson and Dr Lasseur said in a statement.

The first iteration of the research would be unveiled this week at National Fieldays at Mystery Creek where they would be on hand to show and explain to people what the future of landscape decision-making would look like.

AgResearch and the land-based science sector had gathered an "incredible" amount of data to support farming and research over the years, Dr Laurenson said.

That trend was set to continue at an exponential pace because of sensor technology. Bringing that information to life with a high-quality visualisation tool would help accelerate adoption and change, he said.

"Under the NZBIDA umbrella, we have brought together two groups that don't normally work together - AgResearch and ARL - and we have really enjoyed that experience.

"I often think we need to stand back as scientists and say, `I need to try something new'. This is new and the potential is huge. Landowners will welcome any help they can get to make decisions about their futures and we think this could be a big help.

Ian Taylor, founder of ARL which revolutionised America's Cup sports broadcasting, said a "tsunami" of digital data was being seen - "and we are struggling to know what to do with it".

"One of the exciting things for us about this project with AgResearch is it brings all of those things together. The data is already there. When you put that together with the visualisation, you start to see the future.

"You don't have to wait two years, five years or 10 years to see what effect decisions have on your land. You can see it in 10 minutes in a really informed way," Mr Taylor said.

Fieldays is being held from June 12-15 and 1059 exhibitors will be spread across 1559 sites featuring the latest machinery, technology, products, services and innovations covering all facets of the primary industries.

It is the largest agricultural event in the southern hemisphere. Last year, it attracted 130,866 visitors, generating $492million in sales revenue for New Zealand businesses.

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