Change happens slowly in the ag sector, it’s part of its charm. However sometimes things happen that drive change in ways never previously known and Covid-19 is one of those things. The virus is forcing the sector to think and behave digitally for the first time and the opportunity for it to rewire itself and unlock new value is almost limitless.
This might well be the moment many of us have been waiting for…
Over the past two weeks we’ve seen two examples that give us huge reason to be positive. The first is the exponential adoption of digital sale yards Bidr and StockX. It makes perfect sense – sale yards are closed, farmers need to move animals and the internet is ready and waiting with a compelling solution.
The two auction platforms, which are subtly different and worth exploring, connect buyers and sellers virtually, keeping everyone 2m apart and keep livestock moving. With processors slowing significantly or shutting down completely due to new restrictions and feed scarcity through most of the country, the ability to keep the market open for business is critical to New Zealand’s economy and the teams at Bidr (PGG) and StockX were ahead of the game.
The other example where FarmIQ has helped farmers and their industry is the remote auditing of farms. We’ve been lucky enough to work with Synlait’s Lead With Pride team for the last couple of years as they digitize their milk assurance programme.
To this point, assessment against the LWP standard is carried out by independent auditors with an on-farm visit, however Covid-19 quickly put an end to that. Rather than stopping audits completely, Synlait quickly moved to a virtual model where the farmer, the auditor and the Synlait team come together online and use FarmIQ to provide evidence to the auditor that they have met Synlait’s exacting LWP standards.
Auditors will still make a restricted farm visit to physically check some of the structures and equipment on farm, but the heavy lifting is done in advance of the visit, which allows the visit to be shorter and a lot less intrusive for the farmer. It’s a WIN-WIN.
At FarmIQ, we’re suddenly seeing a lot more interest in our third-party access functionality (as well as SafeFarm and SafeVisit) which allows farmers using the system to collaborate with rural professionals, without requiring face to face. There’s no doubt that face to face is best, but online collaboration around a virtual representation of a farm is the next best alternative and it’s keeping everyone moving, which is what matters most to NZ right now.
The big question in our minds, is what happens on the other side? Do we go back to the way it was, or is the rewiring of the sector a permanent thing? History suggests that ‘shocks’ to systems change them forever and, although this is a shock none of us want, it’s definitely an opportunity to drive positive effective and efficient change throughout the sector…