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The Agri Optics Story
2008 – Craige Mackenzie, travelled as a NZ Nuffield Farming Scholar. While travelling around the world on his study tour he gained an insight into a wide range of technologies present throughout the world and how they would fit into New Zealand farming systems. One of the greatest things he saw was the potential to reduce costs, environmental pressure and greenhouse gas emissions through more precise management of inputs. This sparked an interest in some specific products that Craige would then introduce into his family’s own arable enterprise.
In the same year Jemma Mulvihill, Founder & Director, completed a year of ‘Study Abroad’ at Colorado State University as part of her Agricultural Science degree where she undertook papers looking at several aspects of precision agriculture (PA). Here she saw the great potential that PA technology offered in increasing the efficiency and sustainability to farming systems across New Zealand.
2010 – Agri Optics New Zealand Ltd was launched by Craige, Roz and Jemma. The company has developed rapidly due to our ability to provide clients with quality solutions delivering real value. The Agri Optics client base now encompasses arable, dairy, horticulture, pastoral and viticulture along with council infrastructure and amenity management
2014 – Agri Optics North was established to provide precision agriculture services to our growing number of clients in the North Island
October 2016 – PGG Wrightson Seeds Ltd acquired a 51% shareholding in the company, providing new energy and ideas to Agri Optics NZ and ensuring we have a truly national footprint
March 2017 – Agri Optics acquired 100% ownership of Agri Optics North Ltd, ensuring that our North Island client base will benefit from the same products and services that their southern counterparts have enjoyed
October 2017 – CB Norwood Distributors Ltd entered the business with a 33% share
December 2019 – PGG Wrightson sold their shareholding to the remaining partners
February 2020 – Agri Optics NZ acquired GPS Control Systems Ltd
February 2020 – Agri Optics became the official New Zealand partner of Trimble’s global Vantage Agriculture network and renamed the business Vantage New Zealand Agricultural Solutions Ltd
The Greenvale Story
The first foray into Precision Agriculture (PA) began on Mackenzie’s farm near Methven, Greenvale Pastures Ltd.
Greenvale Pastures is an arable farm which has been in the Mackenzie family hands since 1970.
It may be his Scottish ancestry, or it may be his love for the detail but Agri Optics company Founder and Director Craige Mackenzie along with wife, Roz, have always been driven to achieve the best value from every input on Greenvale Pastures. The change from a dryland property in 1998 to become partially irrigated brought with it a wealth of learning for the Mackenzies’ as they discovered how to make the most from every drop of water delivered to the farm. Their understanding of the productivity of the various soil types across the farm grew. But their ability to apply fertiliser, chemicals or irrigation according to the known soil productivity was limited by access to technology and know-how. There were few in New Zealand working in the PA field.
From Craige’s perspective, apart from the use of Yield mapping from the combine harvester, PA was limited to the larger landmasses of Australia, USA, and Canada where the benefits of GPS could be seen and understood in the use of large tractors with auto-tracking and overlap control. There didn’t seem to be any benefit for the smaller, more intensive farms typical to New Zealand. His NZ Nuffield Farming Study tour in 2008 changed that perception. Since this time Greenvale has embraced the farming technology revolution. Its profitability, productivity, and environmental impact have all improved.
Timeline of the adoption of precision agriculture technology at Greenvale:
1995 – Yield Monitor installed
2005 – Yield Mapping installed & The Wheat Calculator DSS
2009 – GreenSeeker crop sensing, soil moisture monitoring, AquaTrak DSS
2010 – Grid soil sampling, Electro-magnetic soil surveying, Trimble farm mangement software (Farm Works), Variable rate fertiliser
2011 – Variable rate seeding, Variable rate insecticide, Variable rate fungicide, Variable rate nitrogen
2012 – Variable rate irrigation, Trimble Connected Farm software
2013 – Precision Irrigation FieldMAP software, Trimble auto-steer
2014 – AquaCheck soil moisture probes, NIWA FieldMet Weather Forecasting
2015 – Farm-wide wireless network
2016 – Lindsay FieldNET Irrigation software
2017 – Trimble Ag Business Solutions software
2018 – Halo Farm Systems pump control (remote start/stop and fault and operating notifications), upgraded flow meter monitoring
2019 – Trimble Famer Core software, Lindsay FieldNET advisor software
Greenvale continues to be the key testing ground for PA technologies and services adopted by Vantage NZ. If it doesn’t pass the on-farm test, we won’t be providing it to our clients.