Meet Mr Daniel Wong

Head of Technology

The cloud's the limit

With a background in software engineering and the IT industry, Daniel Wong made the leap into agriculture when he joined Netatech in 2010.

His expertise allowed him to help the company make strides in the domain of technology, helping them to integrate cloud technology solutions into drip irrigation, which the company had pioneered in Singapore. By tweaking their existing system, Daniel allowed the company to control their processes remotely, streamlining processes for their vegetable farm.

Creating connections

Tech wizard Daniel Wong explains the complexities and innovations that help keep Netatech on the cutting edge of smart vegetable farming.

What's the biggest challenge you faced starting out? Image

What's the biggest challenge you faced starting out?

The whole team started out with no in-depth know-how about agriculture. We made a trip to Israel to learn about drip irrigation from Netafim, who has managed to turn deserts into orchards. The only way to learn agriculture is by doing it — We had to haul concrete, measure the ground, get our hands dirty. That was really hard work, it’s not easy working under the scorching sun.

What goes into high-tech vegetable farming? Image

What goes into high-tech vegetable farming?

Building the greenhouse was just the first step. We really got our hands dirty and did the farming — we got some help in terms of coaching and consulting from agronomists to learn what to look out for.

Where does your passion in agriculture lie? Image

Where does your passion in agriculture lie?

To be frank, my passion doesn’t lie so much on the planting side. My passion is more on helping to equip people with know-how and helping to impact lives through agriculture, farming and tech solutions.

Has the company ever had to compromise or adapt its vision to realities? Image

Has the company ever had to compromise or adapt its vision to realities?

In 2008, when the company was set up, we already had a vision to build urban farms… We were imagining this shining sci-fi concept of a glass building, with sophisticated conveyor belt systems for the plants. But it was too expensive! And who wants to pay $12 for a pack of vegetables? But it may still happen one day.

What personality traits and skill sets does an agricultural expert need? Image

What personality traits and skill sets does an agricultural expert need?

Definitely tenacity. You need to have a never give-up attitude, and believe that anything is possible. Successful people have a relentless obsession with what works, they read all the time to understand their domain, they’re always thinking about solutions to problems.

A day in the life

“In the same way that architecture conceives a building, software engineering creates an architecture of software,” Daniel explains of his primary role. The team at Netatech spends their mornings engaged in irrigation planning and measuring sophisticated elements like the pH and electrical conductivity of the soil, as well as checking on vital signs.

Daniel’s afternoons are spent in the role of a connector, helping to improve processes between the farm’s many sophisticated systems and its team of engineers, agronomists and technology experts.

Food for thought

Daniel gives you expert knowledge to chew on.

It takes a team to run a modern farm

According to Daniel, the number of skills required to succeed in agriculture are too broad for just one person. Netatech is made up of various teams of experts ranging from plant whisperers like agronomists to software engineers and chemists.

Modern agriculture is 95% science

While traditional farming relies primarily on trial and error, Daniel believes that modern agriculture is 95% science. Farming gets progressively more difficult across plant cycles, and being able to measure everything from nutrient ratios to air and water balance of the soil allows for greater consistency.

Writing the SG Food Story

With increases in technology innovation, Daniel foresees a lot more interest in urban farming as a career choice, and young people as a crucial part of Singapore’s food story.

Netatech’s medley of vegetables and fresh greens — which include Hong Kong cai xin, xiao bai cai, spinach, nai bai and tung-oh — can be found under the Netafresh label at Cold Storage, and the Red Dot Farm label at RedMart.


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