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Introducing Vantage NZ – our partner in precision ag

“Precision agriculture is about understanding your resource and better targeting what you are putting where,” says Vantage NZ founder and director Jemma Mulvihill.

“At Vantage we’re using technology to improve everyday farming practices for all farming sectors across New Zealand. Our team work with farmers to identify opportunities to ‘do better’ and then we develop a plan to achieve that. It’s a really collaborative approach.”

“We talk about it in terms of the ‘5 Rs’ - the right input, in the right place, at the right time, at the right amount, in the right manner,” says Jemma.

“Vantage services improve farmers’ decision-making abilities by turning data into information. This information helps farmers make more robust management decisions, manage costs more closely and target areas to optimise profitability. Having more insight and better management also helps improve environmental outcomes, while increasing productivity to its maximum potential.”

Garry Watt, Business Manager, adds, “Any type and scale of farmer or grower can benefit, be it dairy, arable, cropping, orchards, horticulture or viticulture. However, we see the most success come from customers who best measure their inputs and results and, through informed decision making, are able to improve their productivity and profitability.”

A starting point could be as simple as installing a soil moisture probe in a paddock or harnessing the guidance system in your tractor.

“There are effectively two parts to our business,” says Garry. “There’s the agri-services side which is water management, soil mapping, and more agronomy-based practices, and the other side is the guidance and steering that goes into the tractor. What we do is marry those two things together.”

“You can set up a tractor so it runs along pre-set tram lines, what you can then do is overlay the map of the soil profile and say, in that area I want to put in x kgs per hectare, in another area I want to reduce that or increase it, and the tractor will do that for you once it’s programmed in.

You can set that up at a very basic level, or you can take it right through to where it’s driven through a website or application such as Trimble Ag Software (TAS) that automatically feeds that information through to the operator. It all depends how engaged or involved you want to get.”

Reasons for adopting precision agriculture can also vary from farmer to farmer.

“There are those who are looking at this from a compliance perspective, some from both compliance and being future-ready, and those who just want to totally embrace what technology is out there to move forward and manage their farms as well as they can.”

The increasing pressure from input costs as well as environmental compliance means the demand for Vantage’s services is likely to continue to grow, Garry Watt suspects.

“Proof-of-placement of fertiliser, for example, is becoming an increasing focus for farmers, and contractors too. In the future I can see there’s going to be more integration around information sharing from the contractor around yield mapping and proof of placement and seeding, so that when the farmer comes to write up their farm environmental plan or look at their gross margins, they have that information at hand.”

As environmental and economic concerns drive future use of Vantage services, they were also one of the reasons the company was set up in the first place.

“Our technology all feeds into reducing input costs and ultimately, greenhouse gases,“ says Jemma.

“How Vantage got established 12 years ago, or AgriOptics as we were at the time, was on the back of myself travelling and learning more about precision ag in the States, while my dad [Craige Mackenzie] was doing his Nuffield Scholarship based around emissions trading schemes in agriculture.

We came home and implemented a bunch of precision farming practices into our arable farming business, for those exact reasons about cost and input management, but also knowing that greenhouse gases weren’t going away and would still be around the corner.”

While Norwood is a partner and part-owner of Vantage NZ, Jemma stresses that you don’t need to be a Norwood customer or operate a particular brand of tractor to use and benefit from their services.

“One of our key advantages is that we work with many leading products created by world-leading manufacturers. For example, taking the brand-agnostic Trimble precision ag technology and guidance company that we’re the NZ dealer for, and matching it with other world-leading technology suppliers and our own in-house knowledge of technology and local farming systems, provides a great value-add for NZ’s farmers.”

There’s also a very important human side to Vantage’s business, so farmers aren’t left drowning in all that data.
“We have a team that works right from the technology and product end right through to the implementation and support end, which is more focused on getting outcomes and reviewing how that’s all going on the farm system level. So we can truly offer farmers and growers an end-to-end solution.”

You can find out more about Vantage NZ on their website, https://www.vantage-nz.com.

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