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From my story at the NZ Herald:

LIC chief executive Wayne McNee says; “Genomics helps up predict which bulls will breed better. And it helps us do it more quickly. That means farmers can breed from a bull when he is younger.

“Traditionally we’ve had to wait until a bull has had daughters before we know how good he is. With genomics you can tell from before a bull is born whether he will be good. That means you can start using him as a sire as soon as he is mature. And you can use the first to sire other predictable bulls. This accelerates the rates of genetic gain quite significantly.”

Using genomics takes about three years off the normal bull breeding cycle. McNee says on top of that benefit there is the knowledge the bull’s sons will also be able to start breeding within a year.

Source: Agribusiness report: Genetics is a long game but it can speed up herd improvement? – NZ Herald

New Zealand agribusiness is making huge strides with projects like LIC’s genomics programme. We are starting to see huge payoffs.

This kind of work is essential. LIC recognises that the environmental impact of dairy herds needs to be addressed. It is doing this in a number of ways, developing cows that cause less greenhouse gases is one goal, another is to breed more efficient cows so we can maintain milk output while reducing the total size of the national herd.

As McNee says: “If we are going to have fewer cows, we need to make sure the ones we have are better.”

I’ve never ceased to be fascinated by what is possible with agritech. In some respects the sector is hitting its stride now, in much the same way digital technology hit its stride in the 1980s. Every year  brings significant advances.

 

Top flight farm management

Source: Agribusiness report: The benefits of geographical information systems on farm – NZ Herald

Eagle technology is helping farmers to use spatial mapping to manage their businesses. Last week I interviewed Eagle Technology GIS product owner Lauren McArtney and Scott Campbell, the company’s head of GIS technology for the NZ Herald.

There’s nothing new about farmers using spatial mapping to manage a farm. They have done it for centuries.

Now farmers make digital maps and, as the Herald feature shows, allows them to get more from their data.

Agricultural GIS seems to be reaching its stride thanks to the arrival of cloud computing, the Internet-of-things, drones and recent technologies.

On Saturday I covered the China – New Zealand Year of Tourism Launch for the NZ Herald. The last session at the event was a fascinating panel discussion about the need for tourist operators to understand the importance of technology to a Chinese visitor and how to work with their needs.

Some highlights from the panel session:

Lisa Li managing director of China Travel Services New Zealand
Lisa Li

“Technology has a huge impact on their travel choices. From seeking information, making booking arrangements and paying. They do everything on their mobile phones.”

Lisa Li managing director of China Travel Services New Zealand, talking about young Chinese millennial vistors to New Zealand
Rebecca Ingram

 

Paper missing in action

There’s research showing the overwhelming majority of that millennial group has not picked up a single piece of paper media in over a year.

— Tourism New Zealand general manager Rebecca Ingram

“Just over two years ago we signed an agreement with Alibaba Group.

“We wanted to get value from the Chinese market while also ensuring Chinese visitors had a good experience in the country. Part of that was us supporting a roll-out of Alipay.

…only 13 percent of Chinese visitors have credit cards. If they weren’t able to transact in the way they are used to, we would be leaving money on the table and they’d have a poorer experience when they came. “

Justin Watson, Christchurch Airport chief commercial officer

“This is the first generation that has grown up with a smartphone since the age of ten. So everything they do revolves around their phones.

“If you are in the tourism business and you’re not driving visitor experiences through that channel you are going to miss out.”

Liverton CEO Justin de Lille

“In China, there can be an app that doesn’t exist one day, it launches and three months later there are 100 million people onboard.”

Tourism New Zealand general manager Rebecca Ingram

Read the full version of Technology enhances the visitor experience at the NZ Herald.

Silverdale 4.5G mobile data cell siteIf you want fast mobile data now, move to Silverdale. Spark recently installed one of the world’s first 4.5G sites in the suburb.

The tower there can handle about five times as many wireless connections as today’s 4G cellular sites. Data speeds are three, four or even five times faster than you’d see elsewhere.

It’s a taste of the future. With the right equipment, people can download at gigabit speeds, although 4.5G devices are not available yet. In a few years, however, gigabit mobile data will be the new normal.

Spark New Zealand chief operating officer Mark Beder says the company chose Silverdale for its second 4.5G site because it’s a fast-growing area. It is typical of how Auckland’s outer areas will expand in coming years as the city continues to expand.

Read the full story by Bill Bennett in the New Zealand Herald.