Adding value through innovation

Developing and improving “solution focused” technology that will benefit Kiwi farmers in the future is a key focus for Farmlands going forward.

That’s the view of Farmlands’ new Agri Innovation and Strategy Manager, John Arrell. “There’s no point in bringing technology in for the sake of the technology. It has to be solution focused,” John, who has moved to New Zealand from Ireland, says.

“It’s about understanding the challenges and seeing what technology and innovation there is and what benefits it will provide in the long run to ensure shareholders have the best tools at their disposal to deal with consumer requirements as well as environmental and legislative constraints.”

John, who started in the role in March, will help deliver new on-farm solutions, services or products that will be needed to successfully farm in the future. Farmlands is already involved in onfarm technology, having launched SafeFarm and SafeVisit apps with FarmIQ to help make on-farm Health and Safety easier for shareholders.

There are three parts to John’s job – looking at what technology has already worked well and helped, what existing technology needs optimising and what will be needed in the future to add value to shareholders, he says. “The ultimate technology for me is invisible technology. “If it’s invisible and the farmer doesn’t even need to do anything while it adds value then that’s great.”

He says looking at ways of constantly improving come into the role too. “Farmlands has made a lot of significant innovations in the technology space over the last two or three years. A big part of that role is ensuring this innovation and the technology is adding value to our shareholders.”

John comes from a farming background and has run his own software companies in Ireland. Before joining Farmlands, John was Chief Executive of agricultural software company Sixty-5 Technologies in Belfast. Having worked with Farmlands in a number of capacities before, John jumped at the chance to move to Christchurch and take on this new role for the co-operative.

“I love New Zealand. If you want to innovate in the agricultural industry, New Zealand is the place to do it. “Kiwis have that pioneering and ‘give it a go’ attitude. It’s a great place to develop new technology and new solutions that actually make an impact globally.”

Understanding on-farm technology applications from a shareholder perspective is key to John’s role and he is available to discuss challenges and opportunities – please contact him at