A new generation of Irish agribusiness suppliers is fast making a strong impact on New Zealand farms, following in the footsteps of household names such as Keenan Systems and McHale.
With a shared heritage in agriculture and a common approach based on natural pasture-based systems, it is no surprise that Irish innovations are finding purchase on New Zealand soils, says Hannah Fraser, Senior Market Advisor for Agribusiness with Enterprise Ireland, the national export agency, who is based in Sydney.
Green agribusiness from Ireland to New Zealand
Ireland’s credentials on the agribusiness front are impeccable. Yearly grass production exceeds the European average by one third and pasture-based milk production is central to Irish farming systems.
In fact, around 80% of Ireland’s agricultural land is given over to grass, and it really is green: experts from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre found Ireland’s dairy production is the joint–least carbon intensive in the EU.
Despite its small size, Ireland is the 10th largest dairy export nation in the world. That includes everything from 10% of the world’s infant formula to market-leading crème liqueurs.
These primary production successes are backed by innovative agritech solutions. A key dynamic in Ireland’s society is the close affinity between the technology innovators and their farming customers. Indeed, the connection is often personal with farming families producing the solutions and having first hand experience with the challenges faced by farmers. These challenges are often like the experiences on New Zealand farms.
Pioneering sustainable agribusiness
“Right now, farmers in New Zealand are seeing great opportunity to bring premium food experiences to the world market. They know that to do this they need impeccable environmental stewardship and animal welfare standards.” says Fraser
“Farmers in New Zealand, a country that shares Ireland’s clean, green agenda, are increasingly seeking out the kind of solutions that Enterprise Ireland clients are innovating, to help both drive productivity and reduce environmental impact.”
Rising Irish agritech stars in New Zealand
“All of the new Irish agritech innovators are gaining strong traction in the New Zealand market quickly,” says Fraser, “in particular thanks to their reputation for robust, high-quality equipment and their understanding of farmer needs.”
These include companies such as AgriSpread, a family owned agricultural machinery manufacturer based in County Mayo, which is fast becoming a world leader in trailed spreader applications and spreader rate control technology.
Malone Farm Machinery, also in Mayo, manufactures a wide range of high-quality agricultural products including self-loading wagons, post drivers, topers, log splitters and mowers, which it exports across three continents.
Tanco Autowrap produces one of the widest ranges of quality bale wrapping machinery in the world, exported to over 35 countries. Its dedicated team of engineers and technicians have helped it develop a strong reputation as an innovator within the crop conservation and feeding sector worldwide.
Family business Abbey Machinery has a heritage in agricultural engineering dating back to the 19th century. Today it manufacturers a wide range of agricultural machines, which includes slurry and manure handling equipment, grassland management equipment and a range of animal feeding equipment, driven by its in house R&D department and tested in a real agricultural environment.
Hi-Spec Engineering is a family owned and run company based in County Carlow centred on the design, manufacturing and maintenance of high-quality, innovative and reliable machinery which help improve farm efficiency and productivity.
ProDig is another Carlow manufacturer producing quality engineering products with a long lifespan, designed using 3D CAD software and continuous R&D to help improve farm efficiency and productivity.
Over the past 30 years McHale, established by brothers Padraic and Martin McHale, has developed a range of specialist farm machinery focusing on balers and bale wrappers. Over 90% of machines produced are destined for more than 50 countries. 10% of its 250-person workforce is involved in R&D.
“Ireland and New Zealand are well matched in land-types, population and pasture-based farming systems,” explains Fraser. “If a machine works in Ireland, it will work in New Zealand. What’s more, if you take our positions globally, Ireland is a small dynamic, export-focused economy sitting between the US and Europe. New Zealand is a small dynamic, export focused economy sitting beside the Asia Pacific. Irish companies recognise New Zealand as a launchpad to the wider Asia Pacific region and are facilitated in this by the strong historic, cultural and social links we share.”
It’s why Irish manufacturers are successfully partnering with some of the largest agricultural dealerships in New Zealand, including Power Farming and Giltrap Agrizone. It’s also why some 17 Irish companies attended New Zealand’s 2018 National Agricultural Fieldays, many of them exhibiting on Enterprise Ireland’s stand.
“New Zealand recognises that Irish agribusinesses are highly successful in research, development and innovation and are leading the way in R&D investment. Irish companies are increasingly recognised as trusted partners who are fully committed to this market,” she said.
If anything, Irish companies are keen to develop these relationships further, not just because of the strong similarities of the market, but because the southern hemisphere makes such a good strategic fit in terms of seasonality, helping to create year round demand.
“Agriculture is the backbone of both Ireland and New Zealand’s economies. Both are looking to solve the global agricultural challenge of driving productivity while at the same time reducing environmental impact,” said Fraser. “New Zealand is looking for solutions and companies supported by Enterprise Ireland are creating them.”