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Prof. Ian Yule

“Future data demands for agriculture, food production and environmental management”

Ian Yule,  Professor in Precision Agriculture

Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand



Adoption of technology in our food production and environmental management processes is becoming increasingly evident. Precision Agriculture (PA) demonstrates how increased productivity and improved quality outcomes can be achieved. One of the important aspects of PA is measurement of performance both in terms of production and environmental impact. PA used to be seen in isolation but now tracking products through the value chain is becoming more important as is demonstrating product provenance. This has allowed the transition to Digital Agriculture (DA) where groups such as food manufacturers, environmental agencies, policy makers, farmers and agronomists need to be digitally linked to the final consumer, with the objectives of each clearly understood. Examples of information flows will be demonstrated.

Developments in sensing have meant that more advanced analytical techniques are required to process information in a timely and cost effective manner to a number of end use purposes. The level of complexity appears to be growing exponentially as is the quantity of data included, with increasing resolution in terms of temporal, spatial and spectral resolutions as examples. Big data is with us and this is again driving further requirements for integration across time and spatial scales.

Scalability is also hugely important for a number of groups, where IT can be directed to take out cost and provide an appropriate service. Technology is also changing in terms of its ability to reach over physical distances with technology trends such as 5G allowing highly complex distributed systems to be operated. IoT also appears to be coming of age with low cost wireless technology. The level of automation is also likely to grow and the technology for autonomous tractors and equipment is here now.

It will be interesting to observe how consumer behaviour is altered by technology, we are already seeing many retail developments and the most intensive level of investment in the AgTech space is going into retail. Will we see distributed systems growing food in cities or even our own apartment, or will convenience win the day for a time poor consumer.

Lots to ponder.

Wednesday 7 February 2018 – 2:30 pm – 3:00 pm

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Ian Yule is Professor in Precision Agriculture at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand. His academic career has been characterised by his interest in completing applied research to help improve our agricultural systems. In recent years he has worked extensively on hyperspectral imaging to work with industry partners to improve our ability estimate soil fertility from remote sensing of the vegetation cover.

Ian has a PhD in engineering from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK. He established the New Zealand Centre for Precision Agriculture in 2001 which has been at the forefront of precision agriculture and applied IT developments both here in New Zealand and internationally. Ian is hugely excited by the rapidly expanding possibilities from applying maturing IT developments, such as high capacity computation, AI and machine learning, robotics and automation, and changes that could be possible through the potential of 5G.

Ian is currently the President Elect of the International Society for Precision Agriculture and has a strong interest in international networking.

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“Computing at the Edge”

Wednesday 7th February 2018, 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

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“Precision Agriculture: how to feed the world through data”

Thursday 8th February 2018, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm

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New Zealand Centre for Precision Agriculture

International Society for Precision Agriculture

Precision Agriculture Association of New Zealand

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