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Rights: University of Waikato. All rights reserved.
Published 27 November 2014 Referencing Hub media
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Professor Ian Yule, Massey University, is interested in precision agriculture sensing. He has developed a number of tools for the market. Here, Ian and Massey University, Commercialisation and IP Manager Russell Wilson talk about an aerial mapping solution for pasture and crop sensing. This aerial mapping technology not only looks at protein and energy available in pastures but can also be used in aerial fertiliser application.

Transcript

Professor Ian Yule
Animals – they need energy, they need protein. So that’s what we’re aiming to do now is to be able to give farmers the information – how much protein is in that paddock, how much energy is in that paddock that you can utilise.

Russell Wilson
I think what attracts me to the whole area of Professor Yule’s research is that it’s so in line with, you know, the New Zealand economy.

Professor Ian Yule
We’ve looked at how we can improve irrigation through soil mapping and precision irrigation. We think we can save between 20–30% of the water that people are using. Other types of things that we’ve done are looking at how do we improve fertiliser application? Farms are getting larger, and so what we wanted to do with the aerial scanning was actually to do a bigger area faster.

Russell Wilson
How the technology works is it works off the reflectance of the pasture and so being able to sort of measure that and then interpret the data and convert that into not just the amount of pasture that is available but also its quality measures around metabolisable energy, protein and that.

Professor Ian Yule
We’re applying the right type of fertiliser at the right time. The pilot doesn’t have to intervene, all the pilot has to do is look straight ahead and the system will do it for him. So we have the possibility of lesser application on some steeper ground, full application on the flat ground and then avoiding some sensitive areas. I think that’s where the difference between innovation and research or commercialisation is – you’ve got to create something that other people can use.

Russell Wilson
As a university, our role is to sort of present that growth and the balance with the environment and actually show the way that you can have the two co-existing. Precision agriculture is really about developing innovative solutions that will be for the benefit of the New Zealand farmers. What this technology brings is well into the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars.

Acknowledgement
Video courtesy of Kiwi Innovation Network Limited
© Kiwi Innovation Network Limited, 2013