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Dairy Focus FEBRUARY 2018






Atmosphere and climate



Fresh water



Cutting through the red tape

Page 3-4


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Dairy Focus

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As you’re all well aware, farming is a busy life, where juggling many tasks at the same time is usually the norm. It’s becoming more challenging by the day, with environmental regulations adding an additional layer of thinking to the mix. There are myriad rules, which vary depending on where you farm, and getting your ahead around them is sometimes easier said than done Corporate operations and those who are part of irrigation schemes get a bit of a leg-up, with the smaller individual farmers left to fend for themselves. Fortunately, it’s something that people who work in the sector acknowledge and are trying to alleviate, but that’s a work in progress. Many Canterbury farmers are well down the track to meeting their environmental targets, although due to the sheer volume of environmental audits that need to be done, a large number will be on auditors’ waiting lists. It’s important that while waiting farmers don’t take their eye off the ball. Those targets won’t go away so you might as well have everything in place, along with the paper work to prove it, so that when the auditor arrives their visit will be as painless as possible. Speaking of visits, many dairy farmers can also expect one from the Labour inspectorate, which wants to be sure employment records are being kept up to date. It’s not the first year this has happened, in fact it’s been going on for the past few. Unfortunately figures from the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment show that more than a quarter of dairy farms it checked did not keep correct records.

Colin Williscroft


In this day and age there’s not really any excuse for that, given the technology that’s now available. It also pays to bear in mind that good staff are hard enough to find as it is, so making sure they receive their correct entitlements should be viewed as a prudent investment in your business. Federated Farmers latest survey of farmer confidence shows that the last six months has been particularly difficult for those farmers trying to hire skilled and motivated staff. As the story on page 8 of this month’s issue shows, it’s just one area that is effecting farmer confidence. Last month’s survey found that optimism about future farm production fell for the first time since January 2016, with dairy farmers the most pessimistic. Just over half of all farms are currently making a profit (53.6 per cent), which is slightly lower than six months ago, but the proportion of farms making a loss has stabilised at 9.3 per cent. However, optimism about future profitability has halved over the past six months and pessimistic perceptions have quadrupled. Of course the weather in some parts of the country, along with biosecurity concerns, won’t have helped this. Hopefully we’re over the worst of both of those things for now.

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Cutting through the red tape Meeting environmental compliance regulations is at the forefront of most farmers’ minds these days, but are some farmers better placed to achieve those demands than others?

Farm sustainability specialist Megan Hands has been telling farmers they need to be proactive in PHOTO ASHBURTON GUARDIAN understanding their environmental compliance requirements. 

There are concerns that a number of farmers are being disadvantaged when it comes to meeting environment compliance targets. Large corporate farmers can afford to employ people whose sole job has an environmental focus, while those farmers who are part of irrigation schemes can take advantage of the support schemes offer, but where do farmers who fall outside those two categories turn? Farm sustainability specialist Megan Hands, who last year established her own company, LandSavvy, said it was a big issue and a significant flaw in environmental compliance systems. Hands, who is based in Darfield, said there was a real gap in terms of understanding requirements and what needs to be done to respond to rules, particularly what farmers need to do after they get consent. It was important for farmers who fall outside the corporate or irrigation umbrellas to get together with other farmers to find out what their requirements are or, if that was not possible, to get in touch with someone who does know what to do. Industry groups like DairyNZ were also a mine of useful information, she said. From there farmers need to work out what the steps they need to take are, so they can then begin to take them. “It’s no good just burying your head in the sand and hoping it’s going to go away. You’ve got to be proactive

Colin Williscroft


in understanding your requirements.” Many farmers have been proactive, but there were also those who had not, Hands said. For Canterbury farmers, once they have their consent to farm, which they had to apply for by July last year, they have 12 months to get their farm environment plan audited. One of the biggest challenges right now was dealing with the amount of work the new system has created for environmental auditors. “The reality is the industry doesn’t have the capacity to deal with the volume of work,” Hands said. “Most farmers have commenced the process, but there are waiting lists.” The concern was that many farmers will still have quite a wait to see whether they have the systems in place to achieve the required outcomes, she said, adding that the same situation existed elsewhere in the country. There were still tangible things farmers on auditors’ waiting lists can do, Hands said, including in areas like nutrient budgets. continued over page


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Dairy Focus


From P3 “If they focus on these and take some initial steps, they’ll be better off further down the track. “They need to stay engaged with the process,” she said, adding that if farmers do that any changes they need to incorporate into their farming systems after their audit will be much easier to achieve. “Farmers need to know their farm environmental plan inside out. It has to be part of their daily thinking.” ECan is well aware that there are farmers outside the corporates and irrigation schemes who are at a disadvantage in terms of meeting their environmental regulatory requirements and those people are not being ignored. “Ecan recognises that there is an issue for those farmers and we’ve been working with industry groups to plug those gaps,” Ashburton zone manager Janine Holland said. “We also have staff members and advisers who are available to help with information about compliance requirements. “We did some research about this a few years ago, so we knew this would be the case and we’ve put some things in place to help with that.” Last year ECan ran drop-in sessions in community halls so farmers didn’t have to travel to Christchurch to talk to people who could help them, Holland said. It has also run farm environment plan workshops that utilised the skills and experience of consent planners to help farmers. “But we still recognise there are a number of farmers who require ongoing support from us.” That includes the network of ECan offices and depots, including Ashburton, Timaru, Temuka and Selwyn, where farmers can drop in to find out more information about how to fulfil their compliance requirements.

Janine Holland – Ashburton zone manager for ECan.

Holland said for those farmers in the Ashburton zone, there is a consent planner available at no cost every Wednesday to speak to farmers for up to an hour. All farmers had to do to take advantage of that was make an appointment and then come into the Ashburton ECan depot, which is at 4 McNally Street. Efforts are also being made to streamline the consent forms and to make requirements as user-friendly as possible, she said. “We’ve been trying to make it possible for farmers to do as much as possible themselves,” she said, “but we are always here to help if needed.” Holland encouraged farmers to have a look at the information available in the farmer section on the ECan website. It was a good place to find details about compliance requirements and some steps that farmers can take to make sure they position themselves to meet them. What was encouraging, she said, was that of the approximately 350 farmers in the Ashburton zone that had been identified as needing to file for consent and develop farm environment plans, by December there were less than 10 who had failed to do so. That told her that the vast

Farmers who are part of irrigation schemes have access to information and support to help them meet environmental regulations.

majority of farmers in the area were at the very least on-board with the process, and taking steps to get their farms in order. A full report on progress is due to be considered by the zone committee at its meeting next month. Some farmers faced additional challenges in that they owned more than one property and those farms had boundaries that had overlapping zones, so there were different requirements that needed to be met. “A lot of thought needs to be taken. It’s not necessarily a simple process.” Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury president Mike Salvesen said the federation was aware of challenges some farmers faced when it came to both the time-related and financial costs of making sure they met environmental requirements. “It’s like any small business, sometimes they find it difficult

to meet blanket rules. It’s easier for the bigger guys, who have the resources to call on,” he said. “But I think most people are engaged, if not fully compliant yet.” He encouraged farmers in the Mid Canterbury area who were not part of an irrigation scheme and who wanted help to contact the Mid Canterbury Irrigators Group, a standalone organisation open to all farmers who hold individual irrigation consents within the district. About 65,000 hectares within Mid Canterbury is irrigated under individual water consents and it’s those farmers that the group wants to speak for and help. It’s headed up by Fed’s arable chairwoman Joanne Burke, along with fed’s sharemilker farm owners’ section chairman Willie Leferink. It aims to get individual water users together to share knowledge

through strength in numbers. The group recognises that there’s a lot of technical information and requirements facing farmers that can be incredibly challenging if faced individually. Looking ahead, ECan is planning an on-farm field day/ workshop that will focus on farm environmental audits to prepare farmers for their own ones. Likely to be held in late March or early April, it will provide farmers with an opportunity to ask questions of officials and auditers. Holland said an informal one was held late last year to help work out the most effective format and to gauge what sort of information would be most likely needed. She reiterated that ECan was committed to helping farmers comply with environmental compliance regulations, adding that it was in everyone’s best interests for that to happen.











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Spotlight on employment records Dairy farmers are being urged to make sure they are compliant with their farm employment records. The Labour Inspectorate has announced that it will be taking a good look at dairy farm employment records this year, after an investigation that found more than a quarter of farms checked did not come up to scratch. Regional manager Natalie Gardiner said part of being a good employer included ensuring everyone who worked on a farm received all their minimum employment requirements. “This requires keeping good wage, time, holiday, and leave records, compliant employment agreements, and paying your employees all their entitlements such as for working public holidays. “Our most recent investigation found 28 per cent of farms visited failing to meet their record keeping obligations, resulting in $11,000 in fines – and we want to see farmers do better this year. “While this was an

Colin Williscroft


improvement on our previous visits, in reality no farmer should be failing to meet these basic and long-standing requirements of New Zealand employment law.” Federated Farmers employment spokesman Chris Lewis said it was important that dairy farmers fulfilled their responsibilities as a good employer and that what the inspectorate was looking for should not be seen as a chore by farmers. “All they want to see is a proper employment contract, payroll and leave details, hours worked, things like that. “If you’ve been a bit naughty and can’t supply those then they might take a closer look.” He said Federated Farmers had standard employment

Federated Farmers’ employment spokesman Chris Lewis says keeping good employment records is not difficult. 

contracts that farmers could use. There was also technology available that simplified the payroll process, which he had begun using himself in recent years. “It’s very simple, takes virtually no time at all and will make sure farmers meet best industry standards. “It only takes minutes and it’s not that expensive.”

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He encouraged any farmers who were unsure whether their employment records would pass muster to ask for help. “If you’re having issues or think something’s not quite right then seek advice.” Gardiner said by keeping good records, farmers offered protection to both themselves and their employees should anything go wrong or come

under dispute. “Meeting all obligations also helps New Zealand retain its reputation as an equitable place to work and do business, with consumers here and abroad increasingly demanding fairness on the farm.” Consumers made clear in the National Consumer Survey 2016, conducted by Consumer Protection, that knowing a business treats its workers fairly (for example pays at least minimum wage, provides a safe workplace) regularly affects consumers’ purchasing decisions. Forty-three per cent of consumers said that knowing a business treats its workers fairly affects their decision on where to purchase ‘always’ or ‘most of the time’, whereas 11 per cent said that it ‘never’ affects their purchasing decisions. “You can bet the farm that the inspectorate will visit more farms in the coming year, and any which are found not meeting their employment obligations can expect to face serious consequences.”


Dairy Focus


Dairy industry set for review Provisions to manage Fonterra’s dominant position in New Zealand’s dairy markets will continue under recent changes to the Dairy Industry Restructuring Act 2001 (DIRA). Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor said the law change, passed by Parliament earlier this month, means the efficiency and contestability provisions of the Act will no longer expire in the South Island on May 31 of this year.   The government will now undertake a comprehensive review of the DIRA and consult fully with the dairy sector.  O’Connor said the review will consider key issues facing the dairy industry, including, environmental impact, land use, Fonterra’s obligation to collect milk, and how to achieve the best outcomes for farmers, consumers and the New Zealand economy.   Details on timing, delivery and definitive scope will be considered by Cabinet in the coming weeks.  “It was not in the interest of farmers, dairy processors,

Minister of Agriculture Damien O’Connor says the government will undertake a comprehensive review of the Dairy Industry PHOTO SUPPLIED Restructuring Act.

consumers, or the wider New Zealand economy to let these key DIRA provisions expire in the South Island and tinkering

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with the Act would not answer some of the bigger questions facing the industry. “By rolling over the Act

and committing ourselves to a wide-ranging review we are taking a considered and strategic approach to the changing needs of the dairy industry,’’ O’Connor said A report from the Commerce Commission, published in 2016, found that competition was not yet sufficient to warrant the removal of the DIRA provisions. The government was satisfied that it is appropriate to retain the existing provisions while the review is conducted, O’Connor said.   “Officials are currently working on the terms of reference for the review, and I intend to share these with the New Zealand public and the dairy industry in the first half of this year,” he said.   The DIRA was passed in 2001 to manage Fonterra’s dominant position in dairy markets, until sufficient competition emerged. Its automatic expiry provisions were triggered in 2015, when other dairy processors collected more than 20 per cent of milksolids in the South Island. 

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Dairy Focus


Farmer optimism takes a hit


Federated Farmers vice-president Andrew Hoggard says it’s not surprising dairy farmers are feeling a bit more pessimistic, given the drop in production experienced by the sector.

A marked drop in farmer optimism and growing concern about the ability to recruit suitable staff are stand-out features of the Federated Farmers mid-season farm confidence survey. The survey also highlights that dairy farmers are some of the least optimistic of all those who work the land. For the first time in two years, farmer optimism has decreased, including negative perceptions of the economy, farm profitability, farm production and farm spending. Farm debt levels have also increased and fewer farms are now debt-free. The Federated Farmers survey is conducted by Research First twice a year (January and July) and 1070 farmers responded to the questionnaire last month. In terms of optimism about general economic conditions, there was a drop of 23 points compared to July last year and a 50 point drop when asked about the 12 months ahead. “That’s quite a hit, but it needs to be viewed in context,” Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers vice-president said.

Colin Williscroft


“Pretty much all recent surveys of businesses have found a drop in confidence because of the disruption and uncertainty over October’s general election. And in mid-January, when our survey was done, farmers in many regions had endured weeks and weeks of little or no rain.” The survey found that the majority of dairy farmers – 63.6 per cent – viewed current economic conditions as neither good nor bad. However, when it came to looking ahead, the picture was not so good, with 43.2 per cent of dairy farmers expecting economic conditions to worsen, with only 7.4 per cent expecting them to improve. Last month’s survey found that optimism about future farm

production fell for the first time since January 2016, with dairy farmers the most pessimistic. Hoggard said it was telling that farmers in all regions expected production to decrease, but particularly those in Taranaki-Manawatu and Otago-Southland, the two areas most affected by drought. It will probably come as no surprise that when it comes to increased future farm production dairy is the least optimistic group, because a larger proportion expect their production to reduce in the future when compared to the previous survey (22.2 per cent in January 2018 versus 5.3 per cent in July 2017. The survey noted that much of the dairy group’s fall in confidence in this area will be due to the effects of a wet and cold early spring, followed by very dry conditions in many dairy areas. Just over half of all farms are currently making a profit (53.6 per cent), which is slightly lower than six months ago, but the proportion of farms making a loss has stabilised at 9.3 per cent. However, optimism about


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future profitability has halved over the past six months and pessimistic perceptions have quadrupled. When it comes to dairy, compared to July 2017, more dairy farms report making a loss (11.4 per cent, up from 7.4 per cent). However, the proportion of dairy farms making losses is still proportionally much less than in July 2016, when 60 per cent reported losses. Looking ahead over the next 12 months, 18.5 per cent


of dairy farmers expect farm profitability to improve, 51.4 per cent expect it to stay the same, and 28.2 per cent expect it to worsen. “Again, some context. Dairy commodity prices were on a downward trajectory for the last half of 2017 and at the time of our survey were only just starting to go the other way,” Hoggard said. “It was the dairy sector which suffered the biggest drops in production, farm spending and similar indicators.

Meat and fibre farmers weren’t so bad.” As could be expected with falls in confidence, production and profitability, dairy farmers are likely to spend less over the next 12 months, with the proportion expecting to tighten their belts doubling from 10 per cent to 21.3 per cent, with 32.2 per cent expecting to spend more and 45.7 per cent predicting it will stay the same. Most farming sectors are also expecting an increase in

debt over the next 12 months compared to six months ago. Of those sectors, dairy farmers are expecting the biggest increase in farm debt from 9.2 per cent in July 2017 to 15.6 per cent now. However, it should be noted that the proportion of dairy farms expecting to reduce debt during the same period has also fallen, from 54.4 per cent down to 33.7 per cent. Similar to the July 2017 survey, the greatest concern for farmers was regulation

and compliance costs. The dry weather was also on their minds, and worry about climate change policy and the potential for livestock emissions to be included in the ETS showed a marked increase. The ability to recruit staff is becoming increasingly hard - the hardest in the 18 surveys that have been carried out since 2009. Of those dairy farmers surveyed, 44.6 per cent have found recruiting harder than six months ago, with only 1.3 per cent having found it easier.“ Federated Farmers is trying to head this off with initiatives such as our new dairy apprenticeship but this trend is also a message to politicians that as they tinker with immigration settings, the needs of rural New Zealand are very different from what’s going on in Auckland.” Biosecurity (21.3 per cent) leap-frogged the economy and business environment (16.1 per cent) as the issue that farmers wanted the government to treat as the No. 1 priority - no doubt a reflection of worries over the spread of the cattle disease mycoplasma bovis.

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New future for bobby calves

Nicola Schreurs of Massey University is working on a project she believes has the potential to spawn a brand-new beef industry, which could one day phase-out the slaughter of bobby calves.

Massey University is investigating whether the dairy industry has the potential to drive a new class of beef product by rearing bobby calves that would ordinarily be sent to slaughter. The dairy industry currently needs to produce calves to maintain milk production, but while a proportion of the females are retained as herd replacements, a large number are sent for slaughter at around four-days old due to a lack of viable alternatives. The potential new product is being labelled New Generation Beef, and is produced by rearing calves sourced from the dairy industry up to one year of age. Project lead, Nicola Schreurs of the School of Agriculture and Environment, said the research has the potential

to spawn a brand-new beef industry, which could one day phase-out the slaughter of bobby calves. “This new product isn’t veal or bull-beef, and we are not specifically targeting the prime steer classification but, we are developing a new, full red-meat product of its own, that could require less resource and deliver a more sustainable product,” she said. “There is currently little incentive for the dairy farmer to rear additional calves, but there is a large amount of welfare concerns associated with the transport and slaughter of bobby calves. “We think that our New Generation Beef system could help the New Zealand dairy industry achieve a ‘zero-bobbies policy’ by turning a low-value product into a high-value product. “However, the concept needs validation if it is to

have uptake and our research seeks to hammer out how it could work on the farm and will define what type of carcass and meat product we would be getting, as well as considering the potential markets,” Schreurs said. The initial part of the project involves a group of calves (Kiwi crossed with Hereford) managed on Massey’s farms. These calves will be slaughtered at eight, 10, 12 and 18 months of age and assessed for the meat product obtained. This data will allow the team to consider the economics required to make the system viable and the required market development for the product. The research will involve Masters students Sam Pike and Josh Hunt. The programme will also enrol PhD students over the

next two years, to assess the environmental impact of the supply chain and specificities for processing.” “Many of the environment issues with beef production arise as a consequence of a production period of two to three years to achieve market requirements,” Schreurs said. “Older animals have reduced feed-use efficiency, increased greenhouse gas emissions and a larger contribution to nitrogen leaching. “Argentinian beef cattle are slaughtered at approximately one year of age and we think a similar system could be implemented in New Zealand with positive consequences for the environment.” The project will utilise the expertise of Massey’s Professor Steve Morris, Associate Professor Rebecca Hickson, Professor Paul Kenyon, Professor Hugh

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Blair and Professor Dorian Garrick, and is supported by the C Alma Baker Trust, and Beef + Lamb NZ Genetics. Schreurs said in the future more field studies will be required, including market research to see how this product would be received by consumers. In the larger research programme, the researchers hope to look at a range of dairy breeds and dairy-beef crossbreeds. “Our goal is to one day have farmers, meat processors and marketers taking on board the concept of New Generation Beef for application into an integrated supply chain for export traded beef with sustainable returns to the beef sector. “We see this innovation as a new beef product coming from a new generation of farmers, for the new generation of consumers.”



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Dairy Focus


250 horsepower and the perfect c Designed to deliver more power and versatility than any other tractor in its weight class, the new John Deere 6250R tractor has been well received in the Waitaki district.

The first of these tractors to arrive in New Zealand was delivered to Mike and Olivia Pavletich from Station Peak Dairy Limited by Drummond & Etheridge in October last year, into a property that offers a contrast of large flats and steep hills. With two milking sheds and more than 2000 cows that are wintered on farm, the John Deere 6250R needed to slot seamlessly into a busy operation and perform a variety of agricultural work. Any newly released machine brings with it expectations, especially given the inclusion of the all-new CommandPRO™ joystick. The joystick is available as an optional extra on the 6230R and 6250R, and introduces a new dimension in ergonomics and versatility to John Deere tractors. Top speed can be reached with just one push, and 11 programmable buttons are available for the hitch, PTO, SCVs, AutoTrac™ controls and more. The functionality of CommandPRO™ allows the tractor to be controlled from top speed to zero with a simple push or pull of the joystick, and lower speeds from 0 to 2km/h can be achieved with the creeper control function. Both the joystick and pedals can be operated at the same time, and there is no need for an external ISOBUS

joystick as the driver can also operate the tractor and ISOBUS functions simultaneously. “I did have a few expectations around the Command Arm and the new joystick, but it’s been brilliant,” says Mike Pavletich. “We’ve got a John Deere 7530 with IVT and that’s worked really well for us, for the new tractor I wanted the functionality to be able to push the joystick forward and go from zero to 50km/h and set it to where you want, depending on the job.” “The technology in the 6250R is a step up from the 7530, but once you’ve

done the initial set up then you’re away,” Pavletich said. “You’ve just got to click a few buttons and you’re in your set up for mowing or cultivation or set up for the drill. “It’s all there on the joystick at the click of the button, you can do everything. In and out of AutoTrac, lifting your rear arms, hydraulics, in and out of 4WD, whatever you want to do. It’s really simple.” A need to upgrade their main tractor and futureproof their operation led Mike and Olivia to the 6250R, after determining the John Deere 6 Series frame was going to be the best fit for the

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varying landscape on farm. “The 7530 has been great, but the hours are getting up on it. Over the last couple of years we’ve been getting bigger gear to cover the area quickly when we need to get work done,” says Pavletich. “So we’ve stepped up from 180hp to 250hp to make sure that we were good now. In the future if we ever need to upgrade ag equipment, we know we’re going to be sweet for the gear that’s coming out too. “We looked into the larger John Deere 7 Series tractors, but I wanted that versatility for the likes of mowing and silage work. Also with the hills it can

be difficult because we go from such flat ground to getting quite steep, so I wanted that ability to cover both bases. That extra horsepower means we’re good for up on the hill too. “I wanted the comfort side of it also and the cab really delivers on that, if you’re going to buy a tractor you may as well buy a decent one,” says Pavletich. “It’s not too heavy a tractor but not too light so it’s good for what we need. I’ve had no trouble going straight up a hill with it with gear on behind, drilling up there is easy. It’s bloody good,” says Pavletich. “Plus, you feel safe in it, especially when you’ve got the duals

on, you really feel as though you’re well grounded. “All round, there’s no complaints and having it set up with the GPS and auto steer is brilliant too.” A Starfire™ receiver, GreenStar™ touch screen, and AutoTrac™ were included in the factory build of this 6250R and are used in the daily operation at Station Peak Dairy Ltd. “We’ve been using it for everything. Moving forward, I feel you’d be silly not to have it,” says Pavletich. “The efficiencies it creates for us and with what we’re trying to do, it’s really beneficial.

“If you’re going to build a new tractor you may as well have it included or at least it set up ready to put in, because once you’ve got it, you won’t go back again. It’s just the way of the future, and if you get behind the times it can be too expensive to catch back up again.” Pavletich says the GPS and automatic steering functions are especially handy when multiple operators are using the same tractor. “I can put anyone in the cab and away they go, at the push of a button they don’t have to steer and you know the spreading or spraying is being done evenly and everything’s being done right.” Any updates to the tractor’s technology can be done in branch by the Drummond & Etheridge service department, which is another plus. “Service is a big part of it, and it’s always been good with D&E,” says Pavletich. “I just want to get in the tractor, have it start and be able to pull any equipment that’s needed. With the 6250R I’ve had no problems with that whatsoever.” To learn more about the new John Deere 6250R contact your local Drummond & Etheridge branch on 0800 432 633, or head along to one of their John Deere and Origin Agroup demo events. Advertising feature

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Sensors guide waterway contamination challenge

Their favourite feed is also New Zealand’s



Urine sensors developed by AgResearch, which are attached to cows by a harness, can measure the concentration of nitrogen in urine that could PHOTO SUPPLIED potentially leach into soil and waterways.

AgResearch has developed world-leading sensors to better understand how nitrogen is being excreted by cows, and therefore how best to tackle the impacts on the environment. The urine sensors, which have been a work in progress since 2010, are attached to grazing dairy cows and take detailed measurements every time the cow urinates, including volume and frequency – and crucially the concentration of nitrogen in the urine that can potentially leach into soil and waterways, and can cause damage such as algal blooms. A recent Colmar Brunton poll found pollution of lakes and rivers to be one of the top two concerns for New Zealanders, but there is now promising research under way to address the challenges for water quality, which include nitrogen leaching.         The benefit of the urine sensors is a much greater understanding of the behaviour of the cows, which can help develop techniques to mitigate the nitrogen leaching from farms, AgResearch senior scientist Dr Brendon Welten said. “Other sensors exist around the world to provide data from livestock, but these sensors we’ve developed are unique in their ability to record nitrogen concentrations each time the cow urinates during grazing,” Welten said. “We can learn, for example, how different species of pasture affect the amount of nitrogen excreted in urine.” The sensors weigh about 1.5kg, and attach to the cow by a harness connected to a lightweight cow

cover. They record the data through the use of multiple instruments (temperature, pressure and refractive index), with data stored in a data logger that can be remotely accessed via a wireless network system. The sensors have already been used in both the United Kingdom and Australia. “The operation of the sensors is complex, and at this stage we are working towards offering the sensors to other researchers around the world to allow them to use the technology to make similar gains,” Welten said. “AgResearch will have the expertise to support those researchers to use the technology and maximise the benefits from it.” The sensors have played a part in important progress made in the Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching (FRNL) programme – involving DairyNZ, AgResearch, Plant & Food Research, Lincoln University, the Foundation for Arable Research and Manaaki Whenua (Landcare Research). DairyNZ senior scientist Ina Pinxterhuis said: “The FRNL results clearly confirm the variability in urinary nitrogen excretion over the day, making it necessary to have many repeated measures. The sensors make this possible.” “It is also great to see that the options we examine to reduce nitrate leaching do result in lower daily urinary nitrogen excretion and lower nitrogen concentration – if not during the whole 24 hours of the day, at least for some parts. This information provides new options for management too.” DJ6743_SW_calf_campaign_ad_360x124_v5.indd 1

24/07/17 12:36 PM


Dairy Focus


Improve your repro performance naturally Have you had disappointing results after pregnancy testing this season? What are the factors influencing 6 week in-calf rate and empty rate on your farm? Poor heat detection is continuing to be a common problem, despite recent advances in technology and increased industry focus on this area. Poor heat detection directly impacts on in-calf rates; teaser bulls will help with this problem.

calving, meaning you miss out on valuable replacements. Because teaser bulls don’t get your cows pregnant, they will enable non-cycling cows to be seen on heat and inseminated, so you won’t miss out on AB calves. We recommend teaser bulls are run with the whole herd for the month prior to PSM to reduce the number of non cycling cows at PSM. We suggest farmers use a ratio of one teaser per 100 cows.

What is a Teaser Bull? Teaser bulls look like, behave like and have the same effect as bulls but they have had a surgical procedure to make them infertile (vasectomy), so won’t get your cows pregnant. Teaser bulls are becoming more common as a valued part of mating plans.

Why use Teaser Bulls? Teaser bulls will help with heat detection in your herd prior to, and, once AI has started.

Our bulls are:

They will pick up ‘quiet’ cows, make heat detection decisions more obvious, and will increase the size of the SAG (sexually active group) particularly when numbers of cycling cows dwindles after the first round. Find the teaser bulls and you will find the on heat cows! A Canterbury trial

demonstrated the effect of running teaser bulls with non cycling cows for the first three weeks of mating: • 7 per cent more cows came on heat in the first 21 days when running with teasers. • 6 per cent more cows were in calf after four weeks of mating when run with teaser bulls.

• The time taken to get cows back in calf after calving was reduced on average by 2.7 days in the groups using teasers. Some farmers already realise these benefits by running entire bulls with their noncycling cows. This results in white face calves born at the start of

• 15 – 20 months old, crossbred or Friesian. They have a very high libido at this age. • BVD free • Vaccinated against Lepto, BVD and clostridial disease. You can either lease or purchase our teaser bulls. To ensure supply with bulls, reserve yours today, there is a limited supply. Please visit our website www.teaserbull.nz or contact us for more information.  Advertising feature

Dairy Farmers Our Teaser Bulls are rearing to go and can’t wait to find your cows on heat next mating! • How have your repro results been recently? • Do you need to improve your heat detection? • Do you want to reduce the number of non-cyclers?

• Is your 3 week submission rate below the industry target of 90%? • How does your 6 week in calf rate measure up?

Gain the benefits of running Teaser Bulls with your herd; improved heat detection and decreased non cycling cow numbers.

Lease or purchase your Teaser Bulls from the Teaser Bull Company Phone us now to find out more about Teaser Bulls and how they can help you improve reproductive performance and profitability.

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Dairy Focus



Are you prepared for your next career step? WHEN CHOOSING YOUR NEW JOB, USE BELOW AS A GUIDE: Phil Hughes


As we move quickly towards the start of a new season, you may be looking for the next step in your career. But don’t leave your planning too late. A good start is to ask yourself “what are my goals for the next two years?” If you have a family, start with them, to make sure your goals align with theirs. If they are not on board, your plans will not be sustainable. Then do an honest assessment of your farm skills and write them down. Try to work out the gap between your current skills, your goals, and what you still need to learn. For example, if your goal is a farm manager position in a year, then you will need to have a chance to properly learn pasture management and feed budgeting. I always think running this assessment past your boss at this time of year does two things. Firstly, it gives you an honest assessment of your skill set from an experienced farmer and secondly, it makes them take notice of your ambitions. Most good employers are looking to help their staff advance in their careers. If they know you are taking your career planning seriously, they are likely to give you opportunities to grow your skills on farm, without you having to leave. If your current farm is not going to be able to further your career, then make sure you discuss your plans to leave with your boss. Employers really dislike getting resignation letters three weeks before calving! You are showing them respect by letting them know early about your plans. Good bosses will respect this as they also need to plan their teams. They will be much more supportive of you, in your new job search.

‰‰ Does the employer share your values?

Focus on what you want to learn, not what you want to earn When job hunting, ask yourself if a job will give you the skills you have figured out that you still need. A salary increase may be nice but remember to focus on what you want to learn, not what you want to earn! Nine times out of 10, the money will naturally follow. Act professionally. If you are organised in your job search, you will have a higher hit-rate. To start with, make sure your CV is sharp, up-to-date, accurate and has all your referees listed correctly I think adding a decent photo of you always makes it more personal. First impressions play a huge part in landing an interview. A good question to ask when checking your CV is: “Would I hire me?” First impressions count and that starts even before the interview. Be organised. Know exactly when and where the interview is. I suggest phone the night before to check it is all set and who you will be meeting. Aim to be there 10 minutes early. Present yourself well. An employer recently said to me “why would I let someone look after my million dollar asset, if they can’t look after themselves!”. No one is expecting a suit and tie but a clean car and clothes is a good start. However presentation is also not just about your physical appearance. Psychology professors say only 25 per cent of our communication comes from the words we speak. The rest is judged against the way in which you

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speak (tone), the way you sit, and the way you hold yourself. These all count towards coming across well in an interview. At the interview be honest about your areas of strength (don’t be scared to highlight these) as well as your areas for development. Over-inflated CVs are pretty common, so employers know to look out for them and they will test you. Remember that the interview is a two-way process and employers expect you to ask questions. Have some worked out in advance, it shows you’re interested and you’re thinking about the job. Yes, ask about the technical side of the farm but also ask about the team and work environment they have. Other good questions to ask are what they are most proud of about their farm; what are their main focuses for the coming season; are there opportunities for further training and development within the position? In my experience, holidays, accommodation and salary should be last on your list. It’s not that they’re not important, just that they are best left to the very end.

‰‰ Do you feel there is a personality fit (will you get on with your employer and their team and be able to work things out in tough times)? ‰‰ Can I gain the skills I am missing, so that I can meet my two-year goals? ‰‰ Lastly, once you have secured an offer, ensure you take the same time to look over your employment contract in detail and get independent advice if needed. Do not be ‘rushed’ into signing. You are entitled to up to five days to seek advice and are free to check any details with your new employer. Any questions are best dealt with before you start, not later. Good luck and let me know if you need help.



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With a theme of Dairy Wearable Arts and entertainment provided by a singer who has opened for Kenny Rogers and LeeAnn Rimes, the 2018 Canterbury North Otago Dairy Industry Awards dinner promises to be an evening not to be missed. Country music star and 2015 Female Artist of the Year Jody Direen will perform at the regional awards formal dinner at Addington Raceway & Events Centre on March 24. Canterbury North Otago regional managers Susie and Michael Woodward say the regional awards dinners are always a night of celebration, and not just for the winners. “The regional dinners not only focus on the regional winners and those in other categories, but provide another

opportunity to meet, network and socialise with like-minded people who live and breathe the dairy industry.” “It’s also an opportunity for the volunteers and sponsors to be acknowledged. They provide invaluable support in so many ways to the entrants and the competition in general. Plus, it’s a chance for everyone to relax and have some fun!” Tickets to the 2018 Canterbury North Otago Dairy Industry Awards dinner at Addington Raceway & Events Centre can be purchased at www.dairyindustryawards.co.nz or email canterbury@nzdia.org.nz for more information. The three Canterbury North Otago title winners will all progress to the national finals to be held in Invercargill on May 12.

Synlait signs new supply deal Synlait and Chinese company Bright Dairy have announced a new fiveyear supply agreement for packaged infant formula. The agreement provides certainty around production volumes for both parties and builds on previous supply agreements put in put since the relationship began in 2011, the Rakaia-based dairy processor said in a statement. “This new agreement is a positive step in our longstanding partnership and we’re looking forward to playing a key role in the future success of Bright Dairy’s infant formula business,” Synlait managing director and chief executive John Penno said. The new agreement includes a commitment from both parties to prescribed production volumes each year for Bright Dairy’s Pure Canterbury infant formula brand. The Pure Canterbury range of

infant formula is Bright Dairy’s flagship infant nutrition brand and is sold throughout China through both online and traditional channels. The agreement will underpin Synlait’s application to register Pure Canterbury with the China Food and Drug Administration. It targets a four-fold increase from current volumes over the five-year term. As well as being an infant formula customer, Bright Dairy is also Synlait’s largest shareholder by volume with a 39.4 per cent stake. “We are fortunate to have one of our largest and earliest infant formula customers as a major shareholder,” Penno said. “This shareholder dynamic is something we share with a number of our customers and it fosters a close relationship that focuses on the medium to long term success for everyone involved.”

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Dairy Focus


Turning dairy farm challenges into Challenges of the Dairy Industry In many cases debt levels are high and from the few poor seasons we have had, debt has increased. This has made it difficult for farms to make the most of reasonable payouts. FWE are generally increasing year on year while production or income remain reasonably steady, this keeps the squeeze on profit margins. It is also challenging to keep both income and expenditure within the budgets that are set at the start of the season. Whether it is due to inaccurate budgets, or improper tracking and reviewing of expenses during the season, or failure to reach production targets, any deviation under the budget impacts both profitability, and future debt levels. Costs are also increasing in relation to staffing the farm. It is one of the biggest expenses on a farm, and as with any expense, the farm needs to be getting its moneys worth. A particular challenge is reaching reproduction targets, a cow that calves

every 365 days is the lifeblood of the dairy farm. Current trends of 6-week in calf rates, and empty rates have been worrying. When farms compare their poor rates with other farms that are worse, they feel like they are doing a good job. A poor rate is a poor rate, regardless of what a

neighbour may have. Animal health is a major draw on the profitability of the dairy operation. Not only in the cost of treating any issue, or the labour involved with treatment, but the production lost. There are huge costs for downer cows that the farm realises over the

course of the season. Downer cows and lameness are both preventable draws on the farms profitability. A relatively new challenge for NZ farms is farm biosecurity. It is important to remember that each farm is different and the same advice is almost

always going to produce different results and profits on different farms.

How MilkMap Consulting solves these challenges MilkMap Consulting Ltd works with the farmer to gain



opportunities a comprehensive knowledge of their business and goals. The aim is to produce a highly specific, individual model of the farm and its capabilities, identifying strengths, weaknesses and opportunity. • We look at the cost and profitability of diluting debt repayments with milk production • Review the current system and spending to identify areas of inefficiency or saving • Examine exposure and risk in the budget Using this model, and working within the constraints of the farm, we run different scenarios to see how we can better utilise available resources, profitability and cash flow. This results in a highly accurate, and achievable annual plan and budget through combining financial, biological and physical parameters of the farm. We ensure this budget is met through two avenues, • Weekly tracking of milk production and monthly financial updates

“ •

In many cases debt levels are high and from the few poor seasons we have had, debt has increased. This has made it difficult for farms to make the most of reasonable payouts.

Ten three-hour visits to the farm, spread every 5 weeks throughout the season. From this discussion with the farmer, assessment of the cows and pasture conditions we produce a comprehensive, technical report of the farm situation, and the actions needed to be taken before the next visit to ensure the best possible outcome for the season. The visits and reports focus on farm working expenses, farm and cow performance, and profitability. This encompasses a lot, including; pasture management, pasture quality, ration balancing, mineral balancing, cow health, and cow efficiency. These reports can also be forwarded to other interested parties of the enterprise, including owners, shareholders, directors, accountants, bank

managers etc. All levels of staff are encouraged to attend the farm visits so that everyone can fully understand what is trying to be achieved on farm and what is expected from each staff member. Concepts are taught to help the understanding of how different aspects of the business perform, and more profitable choices can be made in the future.

The MilkMap Software

MilkMap Consulting Ltd have developed its own unique and accurate software, which takes figures from existing production, inputs and energy requirements. This enables pasture production and utilisation to be calculated and figures are distributed through the growing season. Once monthly dry, springing, and milking cow numbers are known from

the projected calving spread, we can balance the diet with what pasture is available to each period, usually monthly and if/what supplement is needed to meet the budget. This produces monthly feed budgets and diets, silage taken, pasture consumed and daily production targets. The financial reports are entered into the software to ensure the viability of the proposed annual plan.

The Dairymasters Course

MilkMap Consulting Ltd run an advanced training course called Dairymasters that combines the areas of profit-planning, cow nutrition, ration balancing, animal health, pasture management and milk production management with training in effective feeding strategies. This advanced training

course incorporates tuition sessions and practical demonstrations, designed to up-skill farmers on advanced cow nutrition, improve their understanding of effective feed conversion and highlight the result these factors have on farm profitability over the length of several seasons. The course is suitable for all types and systems of dairy farming, whether grass only or other supplementary feeds are used, farmers throughout NZ are finding this programme to be an essential tool in assisting with planning their dairy farming futures over the long haul, giving them more confidence in the decisions they make on their farm. Each module of this course will progress you through a deeper understanding of advanced ruminant nutrition to balancing your own rations and learning the processes necessary to develop a customised, profit-based feeding strategy which is specific to current milk prices. 

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Dairy Focus




What to do before hiring If you’re thinking of hiring an earthmoving contractor, there’s a few things you should do first. Like anything, you get what you pay for, so do some research and background checks before you hire anyone. Whether it’s through talking to people you know, or through recommendations on websites find out about contractors from people who have used them before. Earthmoving contractors prove a service, and you want to make sure it’s a good one. It might not be a foolproof method but if you can talk to people, especially someone you know, about a contractors work, you are less likely to be disappointed later. At the very least contractors should be able to provide you with references but it would pay to cast the net a bit wider than that, as they’re only going to tell you the good news – you’re not likely to receive unbiased, objective opinion. This sort of research might take a bit of extra time, but it’s a great investment.

Add caption.

It also pays to hire someone with relevant experience and the right equipment. That may mean you’re not going to get the cheapest price but there’s a lot to be said for doing a job once and having it done correctly. Having to go back to a


contractor because you’re not happy with the standard of their work, or even worse, having to get a job done again by someone else, is not only frustrating, it’s also costly. If your earthmoving job is a big one, make sure the contractor you go with has

proven history in completing that type of work. They will also need machinery designed for the job, rather than trying to get by with what they happen to have access to. It pays to remember that earthmoving contractors often

charge by the hour, so if their machinery isn’t matched to the task it will be you who bears the cost. When you are looking to engage an earthmoving contractor whether it is for bobcat hire, excavator hire or even sand and gravel supply, make sure you have great planning for your project as this will save you time and money. Drafted plans or drawings can also help to make sure everyone is on the same page. Some projects will involve a number of different trade or services, so it’s possible to save time and money by hiring a contractor who can do the lot. In a nutshell, if you’ve got an earthmoving job that you need to hire someone to do, think carefully about what it requires, research companies that are suitable for it, and ask around for other peoples’ experiences. That way you’re more likely to be pleased with the end result. Advertising feature


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Dairy Focus


Irrigation awards recognise innovation Andrew Curtis


We’re looking forward to our 2018 IrrigationNZ conference to be held in Alexandra in April. One of the features of the conference is the presentation of an innovation award for irrigation. This year we had a good selection of entries, from which our judging panel selected three finalists. One of those finalists is Be Water-Race Safe, a video for school age children developed by the Waitaki Irrigators Collective. The collective operates open water races in areas of the Waitaki District, which supply irrigation water. The animated video has been shown to 2000 children from 21 schools in North Otago and South Canterbury.

The collective also engaged a water safety expert to talk to 400 local schoolchildren about what to do if they find themselves in trouble in water. Waitaki has a significant area of coastline, as well as lakes and rivers, so the advice could be applied in a range of situations. Children tested before and after watching the water-safety video showed improved awareness of the dangers of water-races. Aqualinc are also finalists in the innovation awards for their GeoRural GIS Database. It is a cloud-based system which uses a range of GIS functions. It incorporates comprehensive elevation survey data, climate, hydrology, soil and consent data and aerial photos. It has less dependency on internet speed than most geo-based software and allows for intermittent internet access. The system has a lot of data, which makes the process of developing a farm environment plan much easier for farmers and it has been widely used to develop the plans. It is also being used to help manage nutrient loads

The Vibra Screen, designed by Rainer Irrigation, is one of three finalists in this year’s IrrigationNZ innovation awards.

CONFERENCE The conference will be held from April 17-19 in Central Otago – to find out more about joining the event visit www.irrigationnz.co.nz/ conference-2018


in the Hurunui catchment, and has support from major stakeholders. Rainer Irrigation’s Vibra Screen is the third finalist in the awards. The screen removes solids larger than 1mm, which allows solids and liquid to be separated in effluent, with the liquid able to be recycled in centre pivot irrigators to fertilise pasture. Applying effluent through centre pivot irrigators allows for a larger area to be covered and for more

consistent application than with travelling irrigators. Technology does exist currently allowing for effluent to be applied through centre pivot irrigators but it can be problematic, with blockages often creating issues. Being able to spread effluent through the pivots means it can be spread over a larger area and it’s simpler to manage than a travelling irrigator system. Our conference will feature over 50 exhibitors displaying

the latest in irrigation technology designed to save you time, money and meet environmental standards. With a new government in office who are looking at improving water quality, it’s a good time to look at what new irrigation technology and services are on the market. The conference will also cover recent academic and industry research, with local and international experts presenting their views on what challenges irrigators are now facing and their ideas on how to address these. Otago farmers and water user groups will talk about how they are working together to meet consenting requirements.




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Dairy Focus


Ensuring your safety and cow comfort Fred Hoekstra


How do you handle your cows individually? Can you restrain your cow so that she is comfortable and you are safe? This is a major issue on dairy farms. I went to a farm a little while ago to trim 20 to 30 cows. For some reason the farmer had started doing some cows before I got there. When I turned up he came out and greeted me and helped me set up. There was a cow lying down in the vet race. She had gone down as the farmer was trimming her feet. She was still down by the time I left and as far as I know she never got up again. This is not uncommon and I would like to raise this topic to help you avoid such accidents. There is a right way and a wrong way to restrain cows.

When a cow is being restrained there are some principles that always apply: 1. The cow needs to be comfortable 2. The operator needs to be safe at all times 3. The operator needs to be in control at all times.

1. If the cow is not comfortable she will be a lot more unsettled This seems common sense but is often overlooked. Consider the surface the cow is standing on.

Obviously a slippery surface is not good but an equally or maybe even more important is that the cow must be standing on a flat or sloping-up surface. No matter what crush you use, a cow does not like it if she is facing downhill and you are lifting her back feet. She will fight you all the way. Purpose-built hoof trimming crushes, like the WOPA Hoof treatment Crush, have a belly strap to support the cow when she loses her grip and falls over. An added benefit of this belly strap is that it calms the cow down. Cows relax when you put pressure on their belly. That is why you always see a cow hanging in a sling rather than standing up. Another thing I would like to mention is the fact that most people like to have a leg tied up just above the claw against a bar. It makes the leg sit more rigidly, but if the cow should go down, for whatever reason, there is a very high risk of injuries such as broken legs or dislocated hips - this is what happened to the cow I mentioned earlier. Lifting from the hock is much more comfortable for the cow and because she can still lean on the raised leg, there is very minimal risk of injury.

2. The operator needs to be safe at all times In this case, being safe and being comfortable go together. If you are uncomfortable you are unsafe and if you are unsafe then you are not comfortable unless you don’t know you are unsafe. This has happened to many people who have told us stories about breaking arms, loosing teeth or lying unconscious behind a cow because that cow kicked back.

Add caption.


In many, if not all, of those cases the incident occurred because there were too many bars in the way, or the operator was kneeling down behind the cow reaching out to the back feet. Certainly a combination of these two situations could end

much upright or slightly bent forward. You can achieve this by going through your knees. Leaning onto the cow and keeping your back straight is the key to comfortable and safe trimming. You can keep that up for much longer than

When a cow is tied up in a crush you should always be able to lift or lower her using winches without handles flying around by themselves.

up with major repercussions. When trimming a cow’s back leg, the leg should be lifted from the hock and the trimmer should always stand beside the cow, in the same way a horse farrier stands beside a horse. The cow’s leg should be lifted high enough so that you can comfortably lean onto the cow with your back pretty

crouching down behind the cow. Also the physical touch gives the cow a sense of security and helps her to relax. This is another reason why you should have no bars or pipe work in the way. One last thing I want to mention about keeping safe is that when you trim a front foot always have one of the back feet raised.

This way it is a lot harder for a cow to kick forward and she is standing in a much more stable manner.

3. The operator needs to be in control Cows sense whether somebody is nervous and lacking confidence. When a cow is tied up in a crush you should always be able to lift or lower her using winches without handles flying around by themselves. A braked winch with reduction is the answer here. Good facilities and some proper training are essential elements to being safe and gaining the confidence and control needed to do a good job. If you are interested in improving your cow and operator comfort, safety and control, speak to us about the WOPA Hoof Treatment Crush.

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WEEK 1 th Oct WE10EK2011 4

4 this crust. 201 10 have Oct Anaerobic bacteria created Slurry Bugs have just been introduced. Anaerobic bacteria have created this crust. Slurry Bugs have just been introduced. th

WEEK 6 Nov EK 21st 2014 WE 6

Nov 2014 As Slurry Bugs21 digest the crust, liquefied effluent begins to show on the surface. As Slurry Bugs digest the crust, liquefied effluent begins to show on the surface. st

WEEK 10 2014 13th 10 DecEK WE

4 spread. It is 13now201 Deccan The effluent be easily also richer in organic nitrogen + phosphorus. The effluent can now be easily spread. It is also richer in organic nitrogen + phosphorus. th

Did bugs eat the crust off this pond? Did bugs eat the crust off this pond? “Impossible! You never see sky Beating these bad bacteria “Impossible! You never see sky Beating thesediscovered bad bacteria reflected in an effluent pond” After scientists that anaerobic bacteria werediscovered the cause of effluent crusting, reflected in an effluent pond” scientists that anaerobic This is the common reaction we get from After

they realised thatcause the way to beatcrusting, these bugs bacteria were the of effluent wasrealised surprisingly simple: counteractive N+P+K they that the way toput beat these bugs bugs into the effluent pond. These corrective was surprisingly simple: put counteractive N+P+K micro-organisms „ Better grass. Because the nutrients are bugs into the effluent pond. These corrective are called Aerobic micro-organisms presented the grass an organic „ Better grass.to Because thein nutrients are form, Bacteria. are called Aerobic there is to a far The result presented thebetter grass uptake. in an organic form,is Bacteria. healthier and sweeter pasture. there is a far better uptake. The result is Aerobic bacteria healthier and sweeter pasture. (Slurrybacteria Bugs) need oxygen Fighting the wrong battle? Aerobic „ Less soil leaching and run off. Because and light. Once introduced (Slurry Bugs) need oxygen Fighting the wrong battle? the grass is able to receive the Because effluent „ Less soil leaching and run off. Though farmers battle against pond to a pond, the first thing and light. Once introduced fartoless nutrient is lost into the thenutrients, grass is able receive the effluent crust and sludge,battle theseagainst solids pond are merely Though farmers they to do is first begin eating to a pond, the thing surrounding environments. nutrients, far less nutrient is lost into the symptoms of thethese real problem. The cause crust and sludge, solids are merely theto top crust in order to let they do is begin eating surrounding environments. of the crusting microscopic symptoms of theisreal problem. creatures The causethat „ Significantly less odour. Effluent odour more light and oxygen in. the top crust in order to let theissurface – anaerobic bacteria. oflive thebelow crusting microscopic creatures that occurs when nitrogen the urine „ Significantly less odour. in Effluent odour more light anddouble oxygen in in. Slurry Bugs live below the surface – anaerobic bacteria. vaporises into the atmosphere. Slurry occurs when nitrogen in the urine Anaerobic bacteria number every 20 minutes. Slurry Bugs double in Bugs capture this volatile nitrogen and vaporises into the atmosphere. Slurry I make Anaerobic are micro-organisms bacteria In a matter of weeks, the pond is clear of number every 20 minutes. convert it into form. Bugs capture this stable volatileorganic nitrogen and I make the crust are that thrive in dark micro-organisms In a matter of weeks, the pond is clear of crust and the effluent is liquefied. convert it into stable organic form. environments devoid of the crust that thrive in dark „ Big money saved. Managing your crust and the effluent is liquefied. environments devoid of oxygen. To create ideal „ Big moneywith saved. Managing yourth cost effluent Slurry Bugs is 1/10 The benefits of Slurry Bugs oxygen. To create ideal living conditions, these effluent with Slurry Bugs is 1/10th cost of a machine-based approach. Richer, The benefits of Slurry Bugs living conditions, bacteria separatethese the Anaerobic „ Effluent that’s easily pumped through of aspreadable machine-based approach. Richer, effluent also enables big the send „ Effluent Anaerobic effluentseparate fibres then BUG bacteria that’snozzle. easily pumped through an irrigator That means far less spreadable effluent also enables big fertiliser savings to be made. then send BUG effluent them tofibres the surface to anclogging irrigatorand nozzle. That means far less maintenance. fertiliser savings to be made. them the surface to blocktolight and oxygen. clogging and maintenance. Call David today „ Nitrogen and phosphorus are retained block light and oxygen. These fibres form the crust. They also send Call David today and phosphorus areBugs retained in an organic form. Slurry capture These thewhich crust.combine They also on 0800 4 SLURRYBUGS fibres fibres to the form bottom tosend form „ Nitrogen inthese an organic form. Bugs capture nutrients andSlurry convert them into a on(0800 0800 44SLURRYBUGS fibres to the bottom which combine to form 758779) or visit the sludge. these nutrients and convert them into a form that is easily absorbed by plants. (0800 4 758779) or visit www.slurrybugs.co.nz the sludge. form that is easily absorbed by plants. www.slurrybugs.co.nz farmers they reaction see thesewe pictures. This is thewhen common get from That’ s understandable. Despite using farmers when they see these pictures. expensive machines toDespite stir upusing and separate That’ s understandable. the crust, they never get results look expensive machines to stir up andthat separate anything like these Sothat howlook is this the crust, they neverphotos. get results clear, free-flowing effluentSopossible? anything like these photos. how is this clear, free-flowing effluent possible?

Problems these bad bugs cause: Problems these bad bugs cause: „ Their solids block pump nozzles

„„Their pump nozzles Theysolids causeblock the unpleasant odour „„They cause the unpleasant odour They lower the nutrient content (N, P, K) „„They the nutrient content K) Theylower increase soil leaching and(N, runP,off „ They increase soil leaching and run off

I eat I eat the crust the crust



Biological effluent management David Law


While managing effluent with machinery is the industryaccepted way of dealing with what can be an unpleasant job, Forward Farming biological farming consultant David Law says there is an alternative way that is not only inexpensive, but reduces greenhouse gas output by 67 per cent¹. “The industry has led farmers to believe mechanical management of effluent is the only way,” Law said. “It does work, but it is costly and only deals with the symptoms of an unhealthy effluent pond. “Mechanical management of effluent also does nothing to enhance the environment, whereas biological management of effluent reduces methane and nitrous oxide, which are greenhouse gases, by 67 per cent. “Managing effluent with machinery is not necessarily the only way.” A report published by the University of Lancaster in 2010 showed slurry, or effluent, treated with Slurry Bugs aerobic bacteria showed a 67 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions after five weeks. In a healthy effluent pond, aerobic bacteria thrive and naturally digest solids, creating clear, processed effluent that is ready for soil to absorb. “However, many effluent

ponds are dominated by anaerobic bacteria, for a variety of reasons, and have a thick crust on the top,” Law said. He said the cost of traditional mechanical systems

have two effluent systems with the potential to malfunction. However, the alternative, which enhances natural biological processes and only requires a pond and a pump, is a long-term solution costing a

A report published by the University of Lancaster in 2010 showed slurry, or effluent, treated with Slurry Bugs aerobic bacteria showed a 67 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions after five weeks

including solids separators, weeping walls and stirrers used to liquify effluent, can run into the tens of thousands of dollars to purchase, maintain and run. Coupled with an irrigation system, farmers essentially

fraction of the price, with real benefits to the environment. Law said until now there has been no real understanding of the way effluent works. “Using a mechanical system is saying ‘no’ to biology,” he said.

“We now know that stirring or separating water away from solids disallows the beneficial bacteria to flourish and do their job of digesting the solids, processing effluent and readying it for pasture. “A pond sitting at rest with no stirring displays the true physical characteristics of the effluent. “However, a pond that uses a solids separator or a weeping wall system may be difficult to read, so in this case, a pH test will indicate whether your pond is dominated by aerobic (good) or anaerobic (bad) bacteria; a pH of 7.4 is ideal. “The biological solution is not only permanent and costeffective, at around one tenth of the price of purchasing effluent management machinery, but is of great benefit to the environment – and that should be a major consideration for farmers.”

On-farm biological effluent management is less expensive and better for the environment than mechanical effluent management. 


¹The Lancaster Environment Centre (University), Slurrybug Trial Report, 2010.


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A2 stock continues to rise A2 Milk has become New Zealand’s largest listed company after announcing another bumper profit and the formation of a joint venture with the world’s biggest dairy exporter, Fonterra. The rise of a2 Milk continued after the company announced a deal last week to supply Fonterra with A1 protein-free milk. At the same time, a2 Milk announced another huge lift in net profit — $98.5 million for the six months to December 31, up 150 per cent on the previous comparable period. The announcements met a wall of buying interest, taking a2 Milk’s shares up by $2.46 or 26.5 per cent to a record $11.75 and giving the company a market capitalisation of $8.6 billion, well ahead of the next biggest listed company, Auckland Airport ($7.7b). The stock has had a phenomenal run – rallying by $9.31 or 381 per cent since this time last year. A2 Milk said its revenue shot up by 70 per cent to $434.7m, driven largely by increased demand for its Platinum brand of infant formula, explaining why it needs more milk. The company’s springboard for growth has been the enthusiastic take-up by Australian consumers of its A1 protein-free milk, to the point where it now has 9.5 per cent of the Australian fresh milk market, followed by the popularity of its Platinum brand of infant formula. Chief executive Geoff Babidge said the big lift in profit was driven by a higher proportion of formula sales across the group – it now accounts for 78 per cent of the company’s revenue. Under the agreement with Fonterra, the co-op would

A2 chief executive Geoff Babidge says the company’s increased profit is being driven by infant PHOTO SUPPLIED formula sales. 

make formula for a2 Milk from 2019 at its Darnum plant in Australia, which Fonterra operates under a 49-51 per cent joint venture with China’s Beingmate. “Our nutritional infant formula business is growing extremely rapidly,” Babidge said. “We are very satisfied with the relationship that we already have with [supplier] Synlait, but we also have to look to the future and to ensure that there is sufficient capacity and capability to supply what appears to be a very strongly growing business in nutritional products,” he said. Babidge said the consumer take-up of a2 milk by New Zealand customers had not been as strong as it had been

in Australia, but that could change under the Fonterra deal. “You can assume that we have looked at a number of different options and have spoken to a variety of people and I am of the view that an arrangement with Fonterra is the optimum model to introduce our brand in a meaningful way, across New Zealand,” he said. Harbour Asset Management senior research analyst Oyvinn Rimer said a2 had delivered on its earnings promises. “It has clearly surprised most investors and there has been huge buying,” he said. Fonterra’s chief operating officer Miles Hurrell said the motivation behind teaming up was that a2 Milk was

changing dietary habits. “This is the start of a journey,” he said. “It’s the announcement of a strategic partnership with the a2 Milk Company, which enables us now to work with our farmers on what they can and can’t do on their farms, and marry that up with what the global demand is for a range of products,” he said. “We will be looking to see what we can do in terms of matching supply with demand in this space.” He said discussions with farmers would start immediately. Some Fonterra farmers already have a2-ready herds and others will be thinking about converting, he said. Hurrell said it was clear

consumers were wanting choice. “Consumers are wanting choice and options in a similar way that some consumers are demanding organic milk,” he said. The deal means Fonterra can supply a2 Milk with A1 protein-free milk products in bulk powder and consumer packaged forms, in exchange for an exclusive licensing agreement to produce, sell and market A2 branded fresh milk in New Zealand. The partners will set up an A1 protein-free milk pool in Australia, and Fonterra also gets exclusive supply rights for some products in new markets for a2 in South-east Asia and the Middle East. Most milk contains the A1 and A2 beta protein, but a2 Milk specialises in milk from cows that produce just the A2 protein, which it says helps people who have trouble digesting standard milk. A2’s relations with Fonterra have not always been friendly. A2, in its early days, had claimed that standard A1 milk was linked to heart disease and childhood diabetes and Fonterra had hampered a2’s efforts to get the new milk to market. Farmers supplying milk to a2 had to terminate their contracts with Fonterra or establish new herds. Listed on the NZAX alternative market in 2004, a2 spent its initial years out of favour with investors. A2 Milk listed on NZX’s main board in 2012 and listed in Australia in 2015. Harbour Asset’s Rimer said a2 Milk’s tie-up would add credibility to its brands. “They are building the foundations now taking this brand global, but it’s not going to happen overnight,” Rimer said.  – NZME

Synlait arrangement still in place Last week’s deal between a2 Milk and Fonterra does not affecct Synlait’s infant formula supply arrangements to the a2 Milk company. Synlait and a2 Milk have an exclusive long-term Synlait managing director and chief executive John Penno says his company supports a2 Milk’s growth. 


supply arrangement for the production of the a2 Platinum infant formula range for China, Australia and New Zealand. The agreement, announced in 2016, underpins a growing partnership between Synlait and a2 Milk. Synlait managing director and chief executive John Penno said the joint venture between a2 and Fonterra was good news for both companies. “It is a strategically

sound decision and while we understand it brings additional dynamics to our existing relationship, we are supportive of The a2Milk Company’s growth. “We both remain committed to a positive, long-term partnership with The a2 Milk Company and are looking forward to the growth of both organisations,” Penno said. Geoffrey Babidge, managing director and chief executive of a2 Milk, said the deal

with Fonterra was about the company having options to diversify sourcing, processing and manufacturing over time in light of continued demand for the company’s products. “Our company recognises that Synlait has performed outstandingly under the exclusive infant formula supply agreement between the two companies and our on-going relationship will continue to serve us both well into the future.”


Dairy Focus


Autumn – a perfect time to plant Autumn is nature’s time to plant - make the most of it if you are planting frosthardy plants (eg deciduous trees) and/or larger grades, or if you live in an area which is lucky enough not to experience severe winter frost. Autumn is traditionally the best time for planting most plants. By putting plants in the ground in autumn, they are able to make a good start on root growth before winter arrives. Most plants only need soil temperature of 5°C for root development. This soil temperature usually continues well into the autumn, and even during the winter the soil temperature may stay or even rise above that. Come spring, the plant will already have a well-established root system so it can make better use of the moisture and nutrients in the ground for growth as soon as the weather warms up. Autumn plantings will need less watering the following summer than if they were planted in spring. If you are planting on a site

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that tends to get waterlogged in winter, you may be better to wait for spring to plant, as roots also need air to grow and water prevents air-flow. However, on such a site, you will have to choose plants carefully anyway, as the problem will occur again the following winter. You may want to consider

re-shaping the landscape so that your plantings are raised, and thus better suited for many plants.

Advantages of a autumn planting: 1. Gives trees time to establish before the onset of a hot, dry summer. 2. Soil conditions are often


better in autumn than in spring. 3. Greater variety of tree stocks available in autumn. 4. Often more time in autumn for farmers to devote to preparation, planting, weed control, post planting care etc than in winter/spring when feeding out and lambing/calving takes up

most of the available time. 5. Any losses can be replaced in spring thus avoiding the loss of a year’s growth. Located just south of Christchurch, Southern Woods Plant Nursery has recently opened its brand-new plant centre. The nursery produces a large selection of natives, ornamentals and specimen trees, shipping throughout New Zealand for a wide range of projects. For expert autumn planting advice, talk to the Southern Woods team. They can advise on farm shelter, riparian planting and native revegetation, working with you to achieve the best results for your property. Southern Woods delivers nationwide. Call us for our new plant catalogue, or order online anytime through our website.

South Island Plant Specialists Established in 1987, Southern Woods has been growing millions of quality plants for over a generation. Talk to our knowledgeable team about planting for your next project. We’re specialists on farm shelter trees, under pivot plants, riparian planting and more. - New Zealand Natives - Specimen Trees - Landscaping Plants - Ornamentals - Free Expert Advice - Delivery Nationwide

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Profile for Ashburton Guardian

Dairy Focus - February 2018  

Dairy Focus - February 2018