New technologies helping clean up NZ’s waterways


New Zealand farmers and companies are starting to use Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, data analytics and automation to decrease impact on New Zealand rivers, a leading national tech expert says.

In countries, right across the world the IoT devices are being used to help clean up water, New Zealand IoT Alliance executive director Kriv Naicker says.

Irrigation is by far the largest use of water in New Zealand, making up 65.9 percent of water use between 2013 and 2014, the Ministry for the Environment says.

Places like Israel and California have had to learn how to manage their farms and use of water really well as they don’t have much of it available, Naicker says.

“In New Zealand, we have plenty of water so we haven’t paid as much attention to the impact of farming until recently. There is now a push to make all New Zealand’s waters and rivers swimmable again.

“Earlier this year the government set a new target to have 90 per cent of New Zealand’s lakes and rivers reach swimmable water quality standards by 2040. Currently just 72 per cent meet the standard.

“New Zealand can quickly learn from other nations and use sensors to monitor water quality, water levels, nutrient flows and other metrics, analytics to quickly understand what is happening where on the farm and automation and robotics to adjust delivery of nutrients and water to reduce impact on waterways.”

Using soil moisture sensors, analytics and water automation systems, Californian avocado growers have been able to reduce water usage by 75 percent.

A water sensor that will allow people to check the health of waterways has recently been tested on the Manawatu River near Palmerston North. The sensor will allow communities to check the health and safety of their local waterways.

Naicker says the advantages of the ability to remotely track, IoT monitor and then report on the condition of a herd of cows or flock of sheep or quality of water introduces huge efficiencies for the modern farmer.

“They can be alerted to various scenarios in advance and save both time and money by not having to patrol and survey, using satellite technology to receive various information in a proactive fashion.”

“Some good examples of companies providing sensors for the quality of lakes and rivers includes Riverwatch Water Tester in the Wairarapa, Waterforce in Canterbury and KotahiNet in Wellington.

In addition, Spark, Vodafone, and Thinxtra and Kordia are rolling out IoT water management solutions,” he says.

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