Technology in the workplace


4 min read

Benefits of technology Technology categories Investment considerations Additional resources

There is a steady investment in new technology on dairy farms, to support a productive and efficient business. This includes the use of communication tools like WhatsApp or Trello, through to automated milking or virtual fencing. These technologies come with a range of potential benefits for the business, and farm team.

While this is a highly commercial area, DairyNZ’s role is to provide impartial information to support you in making informed decisions around technology investments. Our research also encourages agri-businesses to create improved solutions tailored specifically for New Zealand dairy farmers.

Benefits of technology for your team

Reduced hours spent on certain tasks: Automating tasks on the farm, either partially or fully, can free up time for farm teams. This allows them to prioritise other tasks, adjust work schedules, increase free time, or reduce the need for extra personnel.

Supports decision-making: Using decision-making tools can support farm teams at all levels of the business to take ownership and be proactive with their farm work, make high-quality decisions, and maintain farm performance.

More attractive jobs: Technology can enhance job appeal and retain employees by cutting down time spent on less appealing tasks. It also creates interest through interaction with technology and can allow for flexible work hours.

Technology categories

There are three key areas of tech investment that you can consider for your farm business:


Milking-related tasks account for around 50% of hours worked on farm and set the length of the working day, so this is where much of the technology is focussed. Options include:

  • Milking infrastructure
    The choice between herringbone or rotary dairy systems is a fundamental technology decision that affects milking times. Also, factors like the width and quality of races, size of holding yards relative to herd size, and use of multiple herds all significantly influence the base time requirements for the farm. These aspects should also be considered as part of the technology question. More information can be found in the Milking section of the website.

  • Automation
    Automation in and around the farm dairy is more feasible in a pastoral system. Learn about Technology options including, automated milking, plant and yard wash, drafting, teat sprayers, cup removers and MaxT.


Pasture management

Pasture management tech isn’t new but continues to evolve to support more efficient data collection and decision-making. Smartphones are now playing a big role and it’s rapidly converging with animal management technology. Visit the Pasture assessments webpage which provides general information about pasture allocations and outlines tech available for measurements and management of pasture data.


Animal management

Farmers are using tech options to manage animal performance, reproduction, and health. These include milk meters, mastitis detection, and animal wearables.

There is increasing farmer investment in wearables as we see the emergence of integrated technologies that support functions like virtual fencing, herding, heat detection and pasture management in one package.

To learn more about these technologies visit the following pages:

Considerations when investing in technology

What is the need on your farm?

Understand the problem/issue you have and what the actual cause is Tech may be part of the answer, but a thorough investigation of the options may also reveal other low-cost solutions to try as a first step before making a significant investment. Are you trying to be more efficient, save time, reduce unsociable hours or labour, improve performance in an area, make the job easier and/or more enjoyable, simplify compliance?

What does a successful outcome look like?

Identify your ‘gap’ in performance and create a success checklist.

How else could you achieve this outcome?

Change farm system, upskill the team, improve people management and communication skills etc.

How well does it work?

Technology can change the way you farm and requires careful integration into operating procedures to be successful. Finding other farmers who have introduced similar technology is a great way to shortcut the learning curve.

Be sure you know what you are buying and are comfortable with the ‘science’ sitting behind the technology.

Sharing of data between technology software systems (interoperability), can be an issue. Where possible, you should look for systems that work together to save time and stress in the long run.

What will you need to do to make this tech work on your farm?

All farm systems are subtly different. Success for a technology in one setting does not guarantee success elsewhere.

In larger farm teams it’s helpful to designate a ‘champion’ for specific technology. This person fully learns the tech, supports the team adopting it and ensures good data entry.

Plan for the introduction of technology. Farm teams will require training to use new technology and understand the benefits it brings to the business. Include your team in the analysis and decision-making process to get their buy-in and increase the likelihood of successful uptake.

What is the financial cost?

Many technologies are relatively cheap apps or software subscriptions. Others need more significant investment such as virtual fencing, milk meters, wearables and should be considered carefully.

Investigate the total cost of ownership. Subscriptions are one example of ongoing costsand can add up. Consider additional costs such as upgrades to ensure your technology is supported into the future. Make sure you understand what these costs are and who pays.

Analysis of the costs and expected benefits is required as you progress through implementation. Some of these benefits may be non-monetary and hard to quantify but be explicit in your expectations and critical in your evaluation.

Consider if the investment can easily be wound back if it doesn’t work for you. If you can recover your capital investment, through selling hardware for example, there is a much lower risk.

Every five years, DairyNZ carries out a survey of technology use on dairy farms to check in on what technologies farmers are investing in. Read the findings from the last milking practices and technology use survey here.

Last updated: May 2024

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