Kiwi agritech start-up Halter has raised $8 million from Silicon Valley venture capital firm Data Collective, a cash injection its founder says could change the face of dairy farming.
The Waikato-based company will use the $8 million boost to commercialise its patented technologies, including GPS-enabled collars which allow farmers to steer cows around the farm using a smartphone app.
The technology helps farmers guide and manage their dairy cows using Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) systems, sustainably increasing production, cutting labour costs and improving environmental compliance and animal welfare.
NZ IoT Alliance executive director Kriv Naicker said complex cow movements, path planning, health and heat detection were all done by AI behind Halter’s platform.
“Halter’s solar powered GPS-enabled intelligent neck band directs cows, so farmers can shift and manage their cows remotely with a few simple swipes on a screen,” Naicker said.
The collars make warning sounds when a cow approaches a boundary, teaching her how far she can move into an area.
The Halter app moves herds to and from the milking shed, receives alerts when cows are showing signs of poor health and provides virtual fences to keep cows out of rivers and drains.
The system can also create a virtual fence behind an individual animal, so a sitting or unwell cow won’t be moved along until she is standing and starts to walk.
“This convergence of IoT and artificial intelligence in the agritech sector is a massive milestone in New Zealand technology, which is the country’s fastest growing sector,” Naicker said.
“We are excited to see more of these cutting-edge, world-first tech developments which are supported by the NZ IoT Alliance, the NZAI Forum and the recently formed AgritechNZ which are all under the NZTech umbrella.”
Craig Piggott, Halter’s chief executive and founder, said the company had produced technology for the future of dairy farming globally.
“Every day, we talk to incredible farmers who are looking for ways to meet increasing food demands while running an environmentally sustainable operation and near continuously monitoring the health and wellbeing of their herd. It’s a constant juggle that involves working huge hours.”
Halter employs nearly 20 engineers, scientists and animal behaviour experts. With the Silicon Valley Series A funding, the team is expected to grow to around 80 and the company was looking to recruit staff including engineering technicians, data analysts and cow behavioural experts for positions in Auckland and Waikato.
By: ESTHER TAUNTON