31 May 2012

Boost in rural productivity expected

6:45 am on 31 May 2012

The Ministry of Science and Innovation says the primary sector is expected to increase its use robotic machinery in the next few years to boost productivity as automation becomes more important.

MSI biological industries manager Max Kennedy spoke at the Agricultural and Horticultural Outlook Summit on Wednesday.

Dr Kennedy said the ministry's latest funding round focused on several ways to boost productivity within the rural sector.

Making the grade are new technologies which help to make businesses more efficient.

He said that adding value through automation is a theme that's becoming more important and things like meat robots and automated machinery for trimming vineyards are going to grow in importance for New Zealand, so there is significant investment there.

Dr Kennedy said feeding dairy cows more, could also improve productivity.

And he said there's more money to be made in exporting high value co-products, such as the organs and hides of animals.

Dr Kennedy said for a beef carcass, 60% of its weight is non-meat, but 20% of its value comes from it.

He said co-products help boost the farmgate prices and add to the overall profitability of the industry.