App helps farmers walk the talk

In another example of ways in which the agriculture sector has taken on board the national concern for the environment, DairyNZ has developed a smartphone app which helps farmers to create an action plan and manage their farm's impacts on the environment.

The new app, called EnviroWalk, will help farmers identify opportunities to get even better environmental results.

EnviroWalk will make it easier for farmers to assess fertiliser use, effluent, waterways, races, cropping, water use and irrigation, and create an action plan on their smartphone.

"Hundreds of farmers have already downloaded the free app since it was launched in July," says DairyNZ Lower North Island catchment engagement leader Adam Duker, who led the development of the app,

"The app allows farmers to have all the information they need at their fingertips. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for them."

He says the app has a series of yes/no questions to help farmers identify areas on their farm that have opportunities to do things differently and get better environmental outcomes.

Depending on the answers, the app suggests solutions or actions.

These form the basis of the action plan, which can be downloaded, printed and updated at any time.

"An added benefit is that once the app is downloaded it can be used with no internet connection and accessed anywhere on-farm."

Otago dairy farmer John Den Baars, who piloted the app on his Milton dairy farm, says the app removes the guess work out of assessing environmental impact.

"I know the young staff I work with would rather do it on their phone than on a bit of paper and it's certainly faster than working out a plan the hard way."

DairyNZ has developed two other apps to help farmers: the Dairy Effluent Storage Calculator and BCS Tracker App. About 11,700 farmers have downloaded them.