Scientists are set to research the application of transformational tech for the aquaculture industry, following funding approval for the two-year Precision Farming Technology for Aquaculture project.
The project announced today focuses on developing technologies that give farmers the ability to manage their farm and stock remotely.
Cawthron Institute Coastal and Freshwater Group Manager, Dr Chris Cornelisen will lead the project and is looking forward to bringing together a multi-disciplinary science team.
“The Precision Farming for Aquaculture project will combine cutting-edge research in sensing technologies, lasers, and artificial intelligence with practical, applied research to provide solutions to the aquaculture industry,” said Dr Cornelisen.
Research into efficient and cost-effective underwater communications also aims to unlock the future potential of untethered sensors, drones and robotics.
There are unique challenges to farming in the ocean. Farms must be physically accessed by boat, with stock health and condition manually recorded. High costs and delicate equipment are barriers to implementing new technology; this project will innovate to reduce these obstacles.
“We’ll be developing new chemical sensors that can identify the amount of food and nutrients in the water, and imaging sensors that use artificial intelligence to let farmers “see” their farm and stock condition in real time from a computer or mobile device.
“The aquaculture industry aims to reach $1 billion in sales by 2025. Technology that promotes sustainability, efficiency, and the ability to farm further offshore will play a significant role in achieving this target,” said Dr Cornelisen.
Part of the National Science Challenges, this is a $2m ‘Spearhead’ project, funded by the Science for Technological Innovation (SfTI) National Science Challenge Board.
The project brings together a collaborative team of researchers from Cawthron Institute, University of Auckland, Victoria University of Wellington, University of Canterbury, and the NZ Product Accelerator. An Industry Advisory Group will provide an invaluable contribution.
The long-term vision is to establish New Zealand as a leader in hi-tech, aquaculture automation and remote farm intelligence. The innovations unlocked through the project are likely to have applications beyond aquaculture; for example may aid biosecurity and environmental surveillance in ports and harbours.