The FarmIQ farm management software platform is in use by over 4000 New Zealand livestock and dairy farms to support farm assurance, compliance, sustainability, productivity and traceability.

Most recently, it is now meeting new demands faced by the industry post-Covid.

The platform was developed as part of the FarmIQ Primary Growth Partnership (PGP), a seven-year programme that began in 2010 with the aim to create a demand-driven, integrated value chain for red meat that could grow the value of the sector by 50 per cent by 2025.

FarmIQ's software is now jointly owned by Pamu Farms NZ, Silver Fern Farms, Farmlands, Veterinary Enterprises, and recently received investment from MSD Animal Health.

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The agriculture industry is being disrupted by the rapid emergence of digital technologies, along with increasing compliance and regulatory requirements.

FarmIQ's platform brings together all farming data into one place, helping farmers to run more productive, profitable and sustainable farming operations.

It combines detailed animal records with information about land, feed and people.

While some farmers solely use the platform for its recording and communication efficiencies, others use it to compare and learn from the results of changing practices like planting crops or mating hoggets at different weights.

FarmIQ chief executive Darryn Pegram says the only way you can meet today's increasing demands is through digital technology.

FarmIQ's software pulls together all farm information into a single dashboard.

By sharing farm data with vets, processors and regulators, FarmIQ is able to create value for the entire supply chain.

An example of the benefit of this was during the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak. A number of FarmIQ's farms were able to use records dating back 18 months to identify the movements of their stock.

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With this proof, the Ministry for Primary Industries was able to significantly reduce the necessary stock cull on these farms.

There is also a growing awareness and demand from consumers about their food choices, seeking traceability of food across the supply chain.

In major markets around the world, customers are prepared to pay a premium for sustainable food grown and produced in New Zealand. This is only expected to increase in a post-Covid era.

FarmIQ chief executive Darryn Pegram.
FarmIQ chief executive Darryn Pegram.

"By treating compliance as a by-product of productivity, it makes compliance easy and improves the quality of information that flows through the entire ecosystem," says Pegram.

"FarmIQ allows producers to help tell the New Zealand provenance story on the world stage, while also demonstrating the integrity of its supply chain."

He says the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in agriculture and highlights the need for digital transactions.

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"This is likely to continue to escalate, as demand and requirements for biosecurity and remote assurance steps up."

Pegram says that FarmIQ's software platform has the potential to create new value for farmers the world over, and the recent investment in the company by MSD Animal Health — a division of global healthcare company Merck & Co — is recognition of the considerable potential the FarmIQ platform has for use in global markets.

"We often field inquiries from farmers and agribusinesses in Australia and other countries that don't have comparable products.

"We can see that as software becomes an increasingly important part of hardware offerings, we'll have new opportunities to reach foreign farmers."

Pandemic pivot

FarmIQ's platform was able to help the industry quickly respond to the Covid-19 pandemic during New Zealand's alert level four.

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During New Zealand's strict national lockdown, Synlait was able to continue audits on its farms with FarmIQ providing remote visibility of what was happening on-farm.

"Synlait were able to maintain their very high standards of food integrity while keeping their farmers, staff and auditors all remote from each other and safe from the spread of Covid-19," says Pegram.

"The process also offers efficiencies and is popular with farmers as less time is spent on farm looking at records.

"Synlait completed the audits with a short physical visit once lockdown was over."

While designed for farms, the FarmIQ team are using their software in their Wellington head office. All staff and visitors use the Safevisit app they developed with Farmlands for contact tracing.

"We knew FarmIQ was a fantastic biosecurity tool," says Pegram. "But we didn't really imagine it would be called on as a holistic solution for animals, plants and people too."

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