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Remote control farming a step closer

Newshub logoNewshub 7/02/2019 Angie Skerrett
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In what could be taste of farming of the future, GPS-enabled cow collars are about to hit the market.

Kiwi agritech start-up Halter is behind the technology, which allows cows to be guided around a farm using a smartphone app.

The company's chief executive and founder Craig Piggott told the AGMARDT NZ Young Farmers Conference in Christchurch that he expects to commercially launch the collars in April.

a brown and white cow standing on top of a grass covered field: Watch: Artificial intelligence is set to help farmers manage stock. © Supplied Watch: Artificial intelligence is set to help farmers manage stock.

"We have just finished setting up our production line in China and we have had our first collars off the line come back," he said.

"We are targeting April as our commercial launch. It's all happening very quickly," said Mr Piggott.

a person sitting in front of a computer © Provided by MediaWorks NZ Limited

The company has been testing the technology on a farm in the Waikato for the past 18 months.

"The system uses audio and vibration to train a cow. The smartest cows only take two hours to train."

The farmer then has the ability to use the remote technology to shift the cows around the farm.

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He said the solar-powered collars have the ability to revolutionise the dairy sector, reducing labour and infrastructure costs.

"The collars can be programmed bring the cows to the milking shed at certain times and identify cows on heat."

The collar also has animal welfare benefits, especially on larger farms.

"If a cow stops eating because she's sick or lame, she can be identified sooner."

a cow grazing on a lush green field © Provided by MediaWorks NZ Limited

Virtual fences also save time by eliminating the need for farmers to erect temporary electric fences.

"We have built the system to work around existing permanent fences. In the long term, a farmer could pull out all their fences and run a completely fenceless farm."

The collars would have no upfront cost, but farmers would pay a monthly fee to use the software.

Halter's team has doubled in size in the last six months, and the award-winning startup is currently advertising more than a dozen positions on its website.

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