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Innovative technology reduces crop disease risk

Apple orchard small

New Zealand agricultural growers are focused on protecting crops in a sustainable way as the country experiences more volatile weather events, pest & disease risks, and increasing droughts.

That’s why they rely on digital weather and disease risk tools from HortPlus, a Hawke’s Bay technology company.

Cody Ellingham, product designer for HortPlus, says the company provides digital solutions that are critical for growers throughout New Zealand.

“When orchardists get up in the morning, one of the first things they do is check our online decision support platform called MetWatch. This tool provides local weather insight, powerful forecasts and agricultural weather data to help manage disease risk, as well as to plan spraying, irrigation, and crop planting.

“This tool feeds in data from a smart network of weather stations, and predicts when you should be spraying, and how much. It means that growers only spray when they need to, and reduces the chemical load,” he says.

Founded 15 years ago to support growers to reduce chemical sprays in the apple industry, HortPlus has grown substantially, expanded its product range and is aiming to reach overseas in the next five years. “We see New Zealand as leading the world with this technology,” he says.

To develop HortPlus services further, they sought guidance from Jenny Brown, the innovation specialist at Regional Business Partners (RPB).

 RBP is a one-stop shop to help local businesses grow and thrive in Hawke’s Bay. The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council holds the contract for RPB.


“Jenny helped us link in to funding for the development of services through the government’s innovation agency, Callaghan Innovation” he says.

14 September 2021

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