Fonterra Activate: Bringing tech innovation to dairy farms

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Report by NewsroomPlus.com Contributed by Fonterra

Fonterra is pushing on with a business relationship with digital innovation start-up company Job Done after they won an idea pitch yesterday at GridAKL, in Auckland’s innovation precinct.

Seven teams representing Icehouse, Spark Ventures and BBDO spent a month developing prototypes at their own cost with a view to securing future services with the Co-operative to help farmers save time and money.
The seven ideas were pitched to a judging panel made up of Fonterra farmers and staff, and consisted of:

  • Job Done, mentored by the Icehouse: a workforce management and productivity focused app under development by farmers for farmers.
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  • Pastoral Robotics, mentored by the Icehouse: aims to transform unwanted, environmentally harmful nitrate leaching and greenhouse gas emissions into more grass and more profit for dairy farmers.
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  • Old Yellow, mentored by the Icehouse: optimises feed inputs for dairy farmers and create a farmer to farmer marketplace that provides easy access to best quality feed at competitive prices.
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  • Senapps Technologies, mentored by the Icehouse: a smart monitoring service that collects data on traditional farm systems and devices and then uses analytics to understand the trends, patterns and anomalies.
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  • Proximity NZ, BBDO: absorbs the day-to-day challenges and processes for farmers, with particular focus around automation, knowledge and resources.
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  • Spark Ventures: Qrious pasture growth is a web application driven by climate input data.
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  • Map of Agriculture: building software to be able to create insights from collaborative benchmarking to create real actions from it.

Pitch winner Job Done was mentored by Icehouse and founded by Manawatu farmer Nigel Taylor.

Farmer Nigel Taylor of Job Done with Fonterra Group Director Co-operative Affairs Miles Hurrell

They presented their new workforce management and productivity app that allows farmers to track their workers’ location in real time using GPS. This helps with compliance and replaces the need for paperwork such as timesheets.

Each venture worked alongside a Co-operative farmer who gave practical and honest feedback to guide and shape the ideas and concepts.

Fonterra farmer Olin Greenan said the winning app had great promise.

“Having more instant information and data available for my farm will definitely help me run a more efficient operation,” says Mr Greenan.

“Some of the really important things such as compliance, environmental and employment regulations take a lot of time to track and manage. Time is very precious for farmers.”

Judge and Fonterra Group Director Co-operative Affairs Miles Hurrell welcomed the opportunity to bring more innovation to the farm. “Our brief was simple, look for new ways to help farmers with their businesses by reducing input costs, improving profitability and saving time,” says Mr Hurrell.

“Fonterra Activate is about exploring solutions that deliver benefits to all Co-operative farms, quickly and cost effectively.”

“Job Done has a really strong idea that looks incredibly promising for helping our farmers save time and money.”

All attendees were also invited to vote in a People’s Choice Award, won by Proximity with their Dairy 360 smartphone app. Their solution connects with Fonterra’s existing app Fencepost and helps farmers manage workflow and chip away at the overwhelming tasks such as paperwork.

Fonterra is hoping the Fonterra Activate initiative will become a regular event, bringing continuous innovation to the farm.

“I’m up for getting my hands on anything which provides more assurance that dairy products made from my milk are made to highest industry practices,” says Mr Greenan.

Read more about Fonterra Activate here: fonterraactivate.com

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Selwyn Manning, BCS (Hons.) MCS (Hons.) is an investigative political journalist with 23 years media experience. He specializes in reportage and analysis of socioeconomics, politics, foreign affairs, and security/intelligence issues. Selwyn has extensive experience as a commentator and has provided live political analysis to a wide range of television and radio organizations broadcasting in New Zealand, Australia and globally including the BBC (Five Live, London) and BBC (World Service). He is currently a correspondent to Australia's FiveAA radio, and is a regular live-on-air panelist on Radio New Zealand's The Panel with broadcaster Jim Mora.

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