The world around us is constantly changing so we, as businesses and service providers, must do the same.
That is something we understand wholeheartedly at Farmers Air – we are passionate about delivering a service to our customers that is second to none, both now and into the future. To achieve this, we embrace a culture of innovation, always striving to evolve and improve in the way we do things with a view to delivering new efficiencies and lower costs to our customers, as well as maximising the safety of every aspect of our operation.
Our major modification project back in 2011, which saw the birth of the aircraft we use today – the Falco XL – is testament to this philosophy. Though it was a significant undertaking that spanned 12 months – it culminated in us having the most modern fleet of aircraft in the country and has proven itself as a worthwhile investment in more ways than one.
The Falco XL introduced a number of technological advancements and innovations, which in a nutshell enabled us to pass on cost benefits to our customers through new efficiencies. As part of the project, we also ensured a mindset of future proofing, as we are committed to being here for the long-haul. Our former aircraft, the Pacific Aerospace 750XL, had the venerable DNA of the Fletcher and Cresco but given those aircraft are no longer in production, we needed a new solution.
The modification process also introduced multiple new safety measures which is, of course, a core focus in everything we do. When it comes to safety, we set our standards sky high so we can ensure our team return home safely to their families each night. We will always remain committed to exploring any new technology and innovations that can further enhance the safety of our operation – you can’t put a price on that.
In terms of technology inside the cockpit we are always working to improve here as well.
If there is a superior and more cost-effective way to deliver our service, we will be the first to explore this, because as we’ve alluded to many times, saving our customers money is a key driver for us.
As part of our commitment to this, we use New Zealand owned and operated TracMap – a GPS guidance tool that ensures optimum accuracy and proof of release with regards to fertiliser spread – something our customers place great value on. TracMap Online also helps us improve the efficiency of application.
As an independent operator, we control our costs and operations from the ground up – giving customers the best team & equipment to ensure they get the best result in the most cost effective manner. Our internally developed computer controlled gatebox has the ability to be coupled to GPS prescription maps for variable rate spreading. This is now considered the industry standard for variable rate application, along with our independently audited gatebox and spreader attachments giving a very even spread across the paddock. This technology coupled with our industry leading aircraft makes for the most efficient platform to spread fertiliser by air.
For us, innovation isn’t about focussing on the short-term goals, but rather the long-term success – we always look to the big picture. With this in mind, we are continuing to explore the best way forward with regards to introducing variable rate spreading technology into the fold. As part of this, we are focussed on ensuring that by doing this we are actually offering value to our customers in the process, otherwise we’re missing the point.
With regards to the current technology on offer here, our robust investigation indicates to us it is in fact more primitive than the traditional means of using differing application rates across the one property. Currently the term “variable” is exactly that – no computer or fancy pictures on a screen can allow for wind or inconsistent product ballistics; this, we believe, can be alleviated through good pilot training. Automation of variable rate spreading is a capability we need in order to take our service to the next level, but we are playing the long game in order to ensure we get it right, the first time.
We have aligned ourselves with two businesses who are currently developing a far superior version of variable rate spreading technology that will more precisely take out the many “variables” which are inherent with what’s currently on the market. We look forward to introducing this capability in due course.
At Farmers Air, we don’t doubt the future of agriculture in New Zealand is bright and we are excited to be a part of that. Our commitment to our customers is that we will continue to embrace technology and opportunities for innovation in a bid to remain sustainable long into the future.
We’re not the ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ guys.