Videos about investment projects
Videos about some projects and programmes supported by the Ministry for Primary Industries' (MPI's) investment funds.
About SFF Futures
Make it happen (2.14)
How you can help bring your ideas to life with Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures (SFF Futures).
Every innovation, every leap forward, every new way of doing something, starts with an idea.
Often that’s the easy part. The real challenge is bringing it to life.
Now there’s a way to make that easier. A way to connect with others, to help explore and discover new perspectives, new opportunities, and new ways of doing things. A way to collaborate and take ideas from “it’s possible” to “we did it”. A way to shift gear and meet our challenges head on and create a richer future for our mokopuna.
A way to get behind those with big ideas… and even bigger aspirations. To give flight to truly transformative initiatives being developed for the benefit and prosperity of the collective good – for our sectors, our people, our environment and our country.
SFF Futures is a new investment programme from the Ministry for Primary Industries designed to back new game-changing innovations across the food and fibre sectors. With an annual budget of $40 million and the scope to co-fund projects under $100,000 to over $5 million, SFF Futures offers investment opportunities for innovative initiatives at every level from small grassroots community projects to large-scale industry development.
The food and fibre sectors need new ideas and we want to help bring them to life. We need to keep pace with the changing world around us, to improve sustainability, to deliver more value, and to position ourselves as global leaders in our sectors.
If you have an idea – big or small – that you think New Zealand needs, talk with us now, and let’s see how we can go about making it happen.
SFF Futures. Make it happen.
[End of transcript]
[A drone shot of a farm.]
[A shot of Dani Anthony Darke walking on a paddock where cows are grazing.]
Dani Darke, King Country farmer: We both believe that our life isn’t a practice run, so we do what we love to do, and living here on the farm…
[A shot of cows grazing.]
…well, I think it’s an honourable thing to do. We’re doing the right thing by our animals and by our land, and it’s great – it’s a great way to live.
[A shot of a famer herding cattle.]
Sam Spiers, farmer, alpine pasture: There’s nothing more exciting than seeing cattle doing well. It’s what we’re all trying to achieve and what’s good for the animals is good for us.
[A drone shot of a farm.]
Rick Burke, Bay of Plenty farmer: New Zealand farmers have got a great story to tell. And if we think about our free-range, grass-fed systems, antibiotic free and hormone free, we should be telling that story better around the world.
[A drone shot of a farm with grazing cattle.]
[A shot of cows grazing on lush green grass.]
Julie McDade, Business Development Manager, Greenlea Premier Meats: We’re the envy of other countries in the way that we produce our beef. So, you know, this is our moment to demonstrate to the rest of the world that our system is not only sustainable but it’s the way that Mother Nature intended animals to be raised.
Title: Sustainable Beef: A longterm future for New Zealand farmers
[A drone shot of a small seaside village.]
Richard Scholefield, General Manager, Whangara Farms: The benchmark where we all used to sit as farmers, you know, where we were supplying products to a consumer, well, that benchmark’s now lifted and we have to lift.
[A drone shot of a farm with cattle.]
Sam Bunny, farm business manager, Rangitiaki Station: The consumer now is far more aware and has far more interest in that link and where their food is coming from, and they love a positive story behind the product, and we’re seeing – especially in the younger generation – more and more interest in that. And that’s just gonna continue – there’s just no doubt about it.
[A shot of a paddock of cows with large hills in the background.]
Grant Bunting, General Manager Supply Chain & Livestock, ANZCO Foods: We’re getting a very clear message globally that there’s an expectation that we are going to have to demonstrate right through that chain that we are taking consideration and are aware of the impact we’re having on those things around us.
[A shot on a farm with cows and a truck in the foreground.]
Sam Spiers: I think the starting point for the public and for consumers at the moment is at least that we are as beef producers bad for the environment, we’re having a negative impact and I don’t believe that. So I’m looking to be part of some form of group that supports a different narrative, and once again to be proud of what we’re doing.
Text: In 2019 a group of farmers, meat companies and other stakeholders embarked on a proof of concept project to demonstrate how beef could be produced sustainably, at every step of the journey from the farm to the consumer.
[A shot of Rennie Davidson talking at a workshop.]
Rennie Davidson, Project Manager: There’s a group of people with a common interest of having a viable, flourishing future by doing something really well, and people sharing thoughts and sharing opinions.
[A shot of people in the crowd at the workshop.]
Tony Egan, Managing Director, Greenlea Premier Meats: This vehicle is a chance to bring processors and farmers together with one voice. This is an organisation that brings together ideas and people for better outcomes, and it encourages others to join us. Because when we get together on these issues we take New Zealand forward on the world stage.
Text: The New Zealand sustainable beef pilot is supported by global food giant McDonald’s.
[A shot of a McDonald’s meal being carried on a tray.]
Simon Kenny, Head of Communications, McDonald’s Restaurants NZ: So McDonald’s is the world’s most famous beef burger maker. We serve 1.6 million people in New Zealand every week and more and more they’re asking us about where our beef comes from, how it’s produced…
[A shot of raw beef patties on a grill.]
Simon Kenny: …and that’s really important to our customers – and for the future of our business we need to change and evolve…
[A shot of beef patties cooking, and being sprinkled with cheese.]
Simon Kenny: …with the times. And we also need to lead, and beef sustainability is one of those areas where we really feel like we can work with the industry to lead and progress the entire industry forward.
[A shot of raw beef patties being placed on a grill.]
Richard Scholefield: To do anything with McDonald’s you need to have everything analysed throughout your whole business – so all aspects.
[A shot of calves running around on a farm near a pond.]
Julie McDade: We’ve focused on the three main pillars of economic, environmental and social responsibility, in terms of defining sustainability across the value chain.
[A shot of a truck driving amongst a herd of cows.]
Genevieve Bennett, Senior Investment Advisor, Ministry for Primary Industries: It’s looking at the full farm system and how we’re farming, and making sure that we’re looking after not only the animal but also the environment – so the quality of the water on those farms…
[A tracking shot of cows in a paddock.]
Genevieve Bennett: …protecting biodiversity, looking at carbon footprint of that farm and really creating a food package that – it’s good for you and it’s good for the planet.
Text: Part of the pilot was an independent audit and verification of the supply chain’s sustainability, including on-farm, meat processing and patty production.
[A shot of a farm by the sea.]
Richard Scholefield: The auditing was fine for us and I think it’s something that most farmers will fly through. Some farmers will find it – probably, there’ll be some issues if you haven’t got a Land Environment Plan and things like that.
[A shot of a farmer on a quad bike, with cows in foreground running away.]
Richard Scholefield: For us it wasn’t too bad. I guess there were some issues that it did identify that our Land Environment Plan needs improvement. One of those was identifying biodiversity on our property. And also around the greenhouse gases, which is actually a big issue for farmers anyway. So we need to do a little bit of work on that.
[A shot of cows grazing.]
Dani Darke: To start with, I felt that the standards were being set really high, but as we worked through them I felt that if we could achieve it, it actually would set our business up for the future and future-proof us for any changes in terms of consumer perceptions or changes in terms of legislation.
[A shot of cows grazing, and calves frolicking.]
Justin Courtney, Head of Communications & Sustainability, Silver Fern Farms: So for us there will be change as processors. We’ve learnt a lot through this process just around how we look after the environment. We understand our waste management better than we did, we understand how we looked after wastewater better than we did. We will make progress, but we will want to do this with speed.
[A shot of Dani Darke walking on her farm in a paddock of cows.]
Dani Darke: The cool thing about a lot of sustainable… or sustainability practices that we do on the farm, they’re also often profitable as well. So it’s a win-win for our business and for the land and for the stock, to be more sustainable in how we farm.
Richard Scholefield: A lot of these regulations in compliance that are coming in… coming at farmers, you know, can actually have positive benefits for us.
[A shot of hilly farmland.]
Rick Burke: It’s seriously good, the outcomes, in terms of improving profitability and ticking all the boxes on the way.
[A shot of Rick Burke and a farm hand taking cows through a cattle race to be weighed.]
Julie McDade: You know, we’ve worked with a very small, select group and now we need to take it wider, you know, to be embraced by a bigger audience.
[A shot of cattle grazing.]
Simon Kenny: So what the proof of concept pilot told us was that we could get sustainable beef farming practices from a farm through the entire supply chain into a beef patty in a burger that we’re selling to a customer and for us that’s the perfect result and something that we hope we can scale for the future.
[A shot of cows running in a paddock with snowy hills in the background.]
[A shot of a farmer walking in a paddock with his dog.]
Genevieve Bennett: It would be wonderful for it to be able to be scaled up or for far more farmers to get involved with it, for more meat producers to get involved with it, and it becomes, um, it becomes something that’s not even novel, and in a couple of years’ time…
[A shot of cows close to camera, with snowy peak in background.]
Genevieve Bennett: …these will be just everyday practices that are standard and they’re accepted…
[Close-up and mid-range shots of cows grazing.]
Genevieve Bennett: …and it just gives us all that confidence moving forward.
Richard Scholefield: We just need to be striving to be constantly improving the way that we… the way that we look after our land, animals and our people.
[A shot of cows grazing.]
Tony Egan: My hope would be that this organisation provides a platform for the youth of this country to get involved as well. This is a great opportunity to shape the future of our industry.
[A close-up shot of cows walking.]
Sam Bunny: It is the future and it’s really really important. It’ll become the norm. It’s just the new expectation that’s required.
[A shot of a car driving, with a herd of cattle following.]
Nick Beeby, General Manager Market Development, Beef + Lamb New Zealand: I’ve never been so excited about the future as I am at the moment.
[A close-up shot of the herd of cows walking.]
Nick Beeby: The level of collaboration that exists within the processing companies, and which is now starting to extend to the farming side is… I believe will be transformational.
[A shot of cows in paddock, with wide open plains in background.]
Sam Spiers: I would encourage everyone to get on board and get ahead of it, and this is a way that we can do it together.
Text: The successful outcome of this project and its future extension will fall under the umbrella of the New Zealand Roundtable for Sustainable Beef.
[End of transcript]
Training dogs to save the bees (3.24)
[A shot of Pete Gifford walking away from dog kennels towards the camera.]
Pete Gifford, Owner/Dog Trainer, K9 Search Medical Detection: So I was approached by someone that keeps bees, that has a bit of an idea of my background with dogs and such. She heard that I was a land search and rescue dog handler and thought that…
[A panning shot of Pete’s work van with farmhouse in the background.]
Pete: …we might be able to train a dog to find AFB. So I was unaware what AFB actually was, so I looked at the project and thought that would be quite interesting. And then I was directed to our local honey expert, Jason Prior…
[A shot of Jason Prior in front of DownUnder sign by the roadside.]
Pete: … just down the road from me.
Jason Prior, owner, DownUnder Honey: So American Foulbrood, it’s a disease of the European honeybee. It’s been in New Zealand bees ever since they were brought in…
[A shot of bees flying around beehive.]
Jason: …in the 1840s. Why it’s a problem is infected colonies – they get weaker and weaker over time, and what happens is they eventually die out. Other hives in the area will come in and steal the honey out of those hives – and in doing so they spread the disease around. So it’s quite contagious once it takes hold.
[A shot of large shed with cartoon-style bee image on it.]
Jason: It affects honey yields, ultimately, and the only cure at the moment is basically destruction of the colony. So that involves burning the colony, which is… for anyone who’s had to do it, it’s quite a nasty sort of experience to have to kill your friends… they’re your pets. So what we want to do is actually…
[A close-up shot of fruit tree blossoms, with a bee on one of the blossoms.]
…eradicate it out of New Zealand. We’ve had dogs involved in the industry trying to…
[A shot of Jason Prior inspecting the fruit tree.]
Jason: …find AFB in the past. The issue’s always been that we’ve never gone through a clinical process to identify and isolate the volatiles, or the scents, in AFB that dogs need to be trained on.
So part of this project is going back to the basics and saying let’s…
[A shot of Pete Gifford training a black and white dog in a field, with beehives in the background.]
Jason: …train dogs on uncontaminated instances of the disease, where we know that the only thing the dog has been…
[A shot of Pete Gifford hiding a ball in a beehive.]
Jason: …trained on is the actual disease. And then, let’s produce a procedure for training dogs that we can reliably say ‘this dog knows how to detect the disease’.
Pete: So I decided to choose four dogs with inherent search and hunt patterns that would probably be good for this project. Then we devised a way to be able to…
[A shot of Pete Gifford turning the stainless steel carousel.]
Pete: …imprint target odour in a sterile situation, so we built a clinical room with a stainless steel carousel so we can make it that the…
[A shot of the dog looking for the target odour in the carousel.]
Pete: …target odour is… you condense it with no other contaminants.
We have four dogs here at the moment that are up to the search level that’s required and now we’re going to bring that down to two dogs – take them into the trial. And then we’ll have Massey University run the trial, peer review it and then publish the results.
[A shot of Pete Gifford throwing a ball to the dog, and the dog fetching it.]
Pete: The way we teach our dogs… as long as we have the dogs that have inherent behaviours and want to play, that’s the most important side of that. The actual teaching them to find an odour and indicating such is quite simple.
[A close-shot of the dog watching intently, then sitting.]
Bear in mind they can find a very small odour in an Olympic-sized swimming pool…
[A shot of Pete Gifford carrying a test wooden box and placing it in position in the training room.]
Pete: …full of water, so their capabilities are fantastic. Also, if you took an inspector to search an apiary with maybe 20 hives it may take…
[A shot of the dog running around sniffing all the wooden boxes in the training room and finally sitting in front of the one with the target odour.]
Pete: …as long as an hour. Dogs would simply search 20 hives in probably under a minute and give you a very high probability detection should the odour be present.
Jason: A beekeeper may go into an apiary and find one hive that’s got the disease. If a dog comes in afterwards and says ‘yes, that hive definitely has it’ and then also finds another two hives that we couldn’t see, that is the sort of success we’re looking for.
[End of transcript]
Supporting spirulina farming (2.58)
[A shot of spirulina being filtered in liquid form.]
Benoit Guiyesse, Co-owner Tahi Spirulina: So spirulina is a type of algae – it’s a cyanobacteria – and the reason we’re growing it – it’s because it’s an excellent food source. It has an especially high nutritional profile when it comes to iron, vitamin Bs, and it’s an excellent source of essential amino acids.
[A shot of raw, sticky spirulina coming out of a pipe.]
[A shot of a female worker scraping the sticky spirulina to the corner of a tray.]
Benoit: Through my research at Massey University I’ve done a lot of modelling on productivity, and New Zealand always comes as a very good location for growing algae. And it’s not very surprising because growing algae, it’s a bit like growing grass. And New Zealand as we know is a very good country for growing grass. So you’ve got the right balance between sun and water… nice environment, it’s not too hot which is important, good sun and good quality water.
[A shot of Benoit in the spirulina pond, with a broom.]
Benoit: The cultivation of spirulina is very environmentally sustainable for many reasons.
[A shot of Benoit using measuring equipment in the spirulina pond.]
Benoit: So as you can see it’s grown in a pond that’s lined. That means we feed the spirulina exactly what it needs, and there’s no leaching of nitrogen or phosphorus in the groundwater and surface water. The reason also we’re using a greenhouse here is to prevent contamination obviously, but another reason – it prevents evaporation. So we are very efficient when it comes to water usage. Another very interesting thing about growing an algae in a pond like that is that it doesn’t really matter what’s underneath, so we can grow it on very low productive, sandy soil – as long as we’ve got a bit of sun we’re fine.
[An aerial shot of the farm in the first year, with three greenhouses.]
Benoit: The first year, you know, we were virtually standing on sand and grass here, and within a year we had a product on the market and we had a brand, and the speed of that I think it was really quite an achievement and really good consumer feedback.
The second achievement I think was in the second year where we consolidated everything.
[A shot of female worker weighing the spirulina in a bucket]
[A shot of female worker extruding spirulina using special equipment]
Benoit: And we’re very thankful to the SFF Futures grant for this because that’s really enabled us to diversify our product.
[A shot of female worker carrying a tray of extruded spirulina to the drying machine]
Benoit: But also really improve all our processes here…
[A shot of female worker putting tray of spirulina in the drying machine.]
Benoit: …from the cultivation to the harvesting and all the way to the drying stage we’ve been able to improve every single step.
For us, spirulina is the first step and we picked spirulina because it’s the low hanging fruit. There’s already an established market and it’s relatively easy to produce. So in the short-term, what we need to do now is to…
[A shot of Benoit’s hands forming spirulina into a sticky ball.]
Benoit: …broaden our range of products and start to export because we really want to be…
[A shot of the filter running in the spirulina pond.]
Benoit: …an export-driven industry that generates profits for New Zealand.
But looking much further in the future we’re also really interested in growing other things, not only spirulina, and probably even growing – you know – algae that are very specific to New Zealand. And could be food but could be cosmetic, pharmaceuticals… it’s really a huge amount of possibilities out there.
The other very important dream is to be able to work together with the traditional farming sector.
[A shot of Benoit in front of a shipping container with the words ‘Tahi Artisan Spirulina’ painted on it.]
Benoit: Because we see ourselves as very complementary… we don’t see any opposition as plant-based versus animal. For us it’s just about working together.
[End of transcript]
The FarmIQ story (parts 1 to 3) (14.29)
[Happy music plays. A shot of a lush, green farm landscape is shown.]
Collier Isaacs – CEO FarmIQ PGP: The project was put together by Silver Fern Farms and Landcorp and some other parties, and MPI, obviously the Government and a PGP programme, looking at the value chain from consumers right the way back to farm.
[Infographic showing how the FarmIQ system works.]
Collier: There was 5 work streams put together. The first of those work streams was dealing with a consumer: What could we do with a consumer that would actually result in a premium?
[A shot of a processing plant for meat.]
Collier: The next work stream was back in processing, so if we knew what the consumers were after, what could we do in processing?
[A shot of slides being prepared in a laboratory.]
Collier: Behind that, there's another work stream in genetics, and so if we understood what the consumer was after, then perhaps we could select different animals.
[A shot of animals grazing on a farm.]
Collier: Behind that was another project looking at what could we do at a farm level to make sure we meet those consumer requirements, and also improve productivity on-farm. Then underneath all of that whole project was software - so we could join all that information together, drive productivity, and get a better outcome for consumers.
[A shot of software being used, with interactive maps of farm areas being viewed and modified.]
Collier: The biggest success of the marketplaces was a whole new product range that didn't exist before.
[A shot of packages of Silver Fern Farms meat.]
Collier: In the processing side of things, probably the biggest success was, you know, the ability to trace products through a processing plant.
[A shot of meat being processed, with electronic identification tags.]
Collier: But in the sheep genetic side of things, we can now select for eating quality, which you couldn't do previously. And the same SNP chip we developed for eating quality can also be used for the rest of the sheep industry for all the productivity traits.
Getting back onto the farm side of things, the biggest success there probably was really, I guess, software – you know, getting people to monitor, measure, manage information, and linking that all the way through the chain. Beyond the programme's wrap-up, it's really focused on how these things are commercialised. Silver Fern Farms are continuing rolling out new products around the world, and basically it's a question of scaling up, and it's scaling up quite significantly.
[Shots show packaged and branded meat products.]
Collier: The whole genetics program has really been rolled out through beef and in genetics, so having gone from an R&D programme, it's now going to be commercialised really in an industry-good basis across the sector. The software business is now a stand-alone business running on its own steam. BeefEQ I think was the best example of value chain theory really coming into practice. Starting with the consumers, the first thing we learnt was something like 20% of consumers actually didn't think they were getting a great eating experience out of beef. So there was a market opportunity.
[A shot of meat being monitored in a processing faciity.]
Collier: Back in processing we found ways of actually using measurement systems to actually work out the eating quality of the beef.
[A shot of software being use by farmers, showing graphs of carcass grade.]
Collier: Genetics was pretty well covered and then, back on farm, we found that actually farmers could have a major effect on the eating quality of those animals for the consumer. And then we put it all together in software so that the farmer can see what the eating scores are, they can understand what they're doing on-farm to actually change those eating scores, and on that basis actually earn themselves a premium - so 40 cents a kilogram for improved quality beef - and overall that's actually added up last year to $3 million worth of premiums back to farmers. So that really is best example saying here's an opportunity with consumers, here's how we measure, track, and trace, here's how we do things on farm to line it all up, and create value for everybody.
[Part 1 ends. Part 2 begins.]
Grant Howie – FarmIQ Product Development Lead: The aim of the marketing stream, right from day 1, was to determine how much more value we could add to New Zealand red meat - lamb, beef, and venison. Part of our thinking right from day 1 was about how we get the product from farmers in a state that consumers would pay more for, hence the start of the plate-to-pasture strategy so it was taking consumer thinking all the way back to the farm. So we undertook a very big program BeefEQ – we had over 96,000 consumer tests, and these were blind taste tests, and we married that up with carcass attributes that went all the way back to the farm, and were able to build a pretty sophisticated, science-based grading system where we can now guarantee the tastiness, the tenderness, and the juiciness of our beef.
[Shots show packaged, branded beef products that were produced through the programme.]
Grant: We've taken the BeefEQ grading and launched a number of new products – beef retail packs so they're attractively packaged, ready-to-cook products for consumers out of a supermarket, but also reserved beef that we sell to chefs in the top restaurants around the world. Throughout the 7 years of the FarmIQ PGP we undertook a number of extensive research studies on lamb eating quality, and the good news is to New Zealand farmers that New Zealand lamb is a very, very high-quality product already.
[A shot of packaged, Silver Fern Farms premium lamb products with attractive images of the cooked product.]
One of the key ways that we discovered to add value was our retail packaging. We found that when you make lamb look this good and this attractive and compelling, consumers absolutely will pay more for it, and the consumer taste panels showed that they would rate lamb in this packaging much higher than lamb in very plain packaging. So that's an example of how to create value. The more important part in my view is how much of that value do we capture and bring back here to New Zealand. We've done a lot of research on individual markets around the world and we did a big study right at the start to identify attractive premium markets. We've narrowed that down to 4 key markets, New Zealand being one of them where we do a lot of test marketing. Also Germany, China, and the USA. In the next 5 years I think we'll see a lot of growth out of those big 3 global markets.
[Shots show transport trucks and livestock.]
Grant Pearson – FarmIQ Processing Feedback Lead: The processing workstream for FarmIQ really had a vision of what we call process optimisation, and that meant that we wanted to be able to measure the yield and the quality of every animal that came into the plant so that we could feed that data back to farmers, and we could also use it to do smarter things within processing, and match the resulting cuts to the customer.
[A shot of meat being processed, with data shown on processing plant screen, then in farmer software.]
Grant: Our process optimisation vision really was built around individual animals and individual carcasses, so we had to track them right through to the boning room and beyond so that all the information we could collect could go back to farmers against that animal, and he or she could use that information to make better decisions on-farm. Consistency is one of the big untapped areas of value in the meat industry. BeefEQ is built on this whole concept of consistency where you measure key elements around eating quality of carcasses.
The research work we did on improving yield and quality was really part of a long-term process, so we work with a lot of the universities in New Zealand and overseas, and AgResearch and other groups like that, to understand a lot more about yield, a lot more about quality, and to start also working with customers. Well there are quite a few positive outcomes that came from the improvement work that we did: developing understanding, producing national codes for things like chilled lamb production in New Zealand, developing convincing arguments for UK supermarkets to accept meat that had been spray-chilled for example to improve yield – a lot of little projects like that.
[A shot of cattle being processed, and meat tested.]
We pretty much nailed the traceability work to be able to track animals and carcasses through our plants. We're well down the track on yield measurement. We haven't got so far on quality measurement, but other people are picking that work up so when all those building blocks are in place then the vision will start to become more of a reality.
[A shot of sheep being tagged.]
EID [electronic identification] is important for the farmer to help the farmer make better decisions, but it's also important when processing, because the automated processing machinery we use now for breaking carcasses down and further processing primals needs that information coming through, and that has to be able to do it at full speed by reading the RFID tag, and the skids, and trolleys, and slides, that bring those carcasses through. So it's absolutely critical, it's the backbone of the whole process. If we can optimise what we do with every carcass then we can get more value out of their carcass, rather than try and treat them as batches which has been the traditional method. For the farmer he gets more money, it's as simple as that. If the processor can target specific markets and get premiums in those markets then they can pay the farmer more.
[Part 2 ends. Part 3 begins.]
Darren Pegram – CEO FarmIQ Systems Ltd: The FarmIQ system was spun out of the PGP programme at the beginning of 2016. The PGP aimed to increase the value of the red meat value chain. The FarmIQ software was a key part of that in terms of joining consumers up with what's actually happening on-farm, and increasing the value the farmers produce as well as the productivity on the farm. It brings together information about the land, the feed on the farm, the animals, and the people.
[A shot of farmers using the software in the field on a mobile device and at home.]
Darren: It's actually the start of a farming ecosystem, so it enables the farmer to engage with their farm consultant, or their meat company, or even their farm suppliers, in a more useful, more efficient way. And we've seen, for example, cost savings in terms of how people are able to do environmental plans – things that probably weren't anticipated at the start of the PGP, but which are now a key part of what FarmIQ does.
[A shot of trees being planted beside a waterway on a farm.]
Darren: FarmIQ is available on computers, but these days farmers do pretty much everything on their app, and so the advent of smartphones has really required us to put more and more functionality on the app. We set out to manage land and animals, but increasingly it's been really important for farmers to manage health and safety, and timesheets, and all that sort of thing.
And joining that up with what's actually happening on-farm has been quite useful for them. FarmIQ software was a very significant investment at a time when this was not the done thing to be doing, and the vision that the PGP had means that we actually have something perfectly timed to take advantage of what our customers are actually needing.
[A shot of farmers using the app on-farm.]
It's a building block for the future. It came out of red meat, but it's going to be used more broadly in dairy and other spheres as an open, neutral platform where information can be exchanged between farmers and the people that supply them with genetics, or fertiliser, or other products – and actually, the people who do the traceability, and consumers who want to know where their food comes from. And that platform is really going to set New Zealand in a really, really strong position for the future.
[A shot of the outside of the Centre for Reproduction and Genomics.]
John McEwan – FarmIQ Genetics Lead: Meat quality is a very valuable trait. It's already being rewarded in the New Zealand industry in beef. We wanted to get better breeding values for meat quality in sheep, and so we needed to develop a high density SNP chip. It was developed by our group in association with the International Sheep Genomics Consortium, which included people from Australia, the United States, and the UK.
[A shot of a woman using laboratory equipment.]
John: The key traits that can be measured are tenderness, the pH of the meat, and the intramuscular fat content. But colour was also important.
[A shot of meat being measured for colour against a test strip in a processing plant.]
John: Farmers can use this by buying better rams from their ram breeders.
[A shot of different SNP chips.]
John: The ram breeders can use the technology by using SNP chips to estimate the breeding values for the meat quality traits. This is the high-density chip, and we can do 12 samples on it, and it can check out 600,000 variants. This is the low-density chip that the breeders now use. It's got about 8,000 variants, and we can put 96 samples on that.
Sheep was a focus because it's a very valuable industry in New Zealand. The technology has become much more accessible. The HD chips were originally going to cost somewhere between $800 and $1,000 per animal each. We managed to develop it for $200 to $300, but the reduced chip that's being used in the industry now is available to the breeder at about $25 a sample.
The key technology that we developed, that spin-off technology, was genotyping by sequencing, instead of testing for specific variants. It's a low cost way of sequencing animals. Almost all the stud tier and the New Zealand deer industry uses this test as of 2016. We are extending the technology out into the various aquaculture industries, and we are hoping as part of other projects that it will be taken up by the ryegrass and white clover seed industries. The FarmIQ PGP project, we were a relatively small portion of it, but the benefits both direct and indirect, will have major impacts going forward for the next 20 or 30 years.
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