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Dairy Focus MAY 2017



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House of Hearing


Farming Dairy Focus





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It’s been a month of winners for Mid Canterbury dairy farmers. Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley took out the national share farmer of the year title at the annual New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards, trainee Ben Haley was runner-up in his category and manager Kerry Higgins achieved the same. Outstanding results from the Canterbury-North Otago region. Then workaholic Jessie ChanDorman was named Fonterra’s Dairy Woman of the Year at the Dairy Women’s Network conference. Many other farmers are winners in other ways. Jeremy Casey and Kim Solly are several years into a soil nutrient project that could help dairy farmers leave a lighter environmental footprint. They have two blocks

they are managing in different ways – one conventionally, using fertiliser to feed the plant, and one under the Kinsey-Albrecht system, using fertiliser to feed the soil. Defying early critics, the Kinsey-Albrecht system is proving as profitable as the conventional. Time will tell whether this should become good practice for all. I’ve noticed more good news stories all round about dairy farmers, whether in the traditional media or on social media; don’t miss a chance to tell people about your farm and the good things you do. Be proactive if you’ve got something going on, get in touch. Some of you will be contemplating life with a better payout. After three years of farming in a low milk price environment, dairy businesses and farm systems may need reviewing following costcutting that was the short-term reaction. If you need help planning longer-term, get along to the South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) at Lincoln at the end of next month. Meantime, prepare for winter.

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Leaving a lighter footprint Linda Clarke

Methven dairy farmers Jeremy Casey (left) and Kim Solly (right) talk soil chemistry with Bryan Clearwater and Neal Kinsey. PHOTO ROBYN HOOD 120517-RH-170 


Methven dairy farmers Jeremy Casey and Kim Solly say a long-running soil nutrient management project on their property could help farmers lighten their environmental footprint. The farm owners, with equity partners Hank Murney Family Trust, are five years into a project that compares the use of a conventional fertiliser regime against the Kinsey-Albrecht system, which involves balancing soil chemistry to feed the plant. Early results show the Kinsey-Albrecht system as being as profitable as the conventional, with the added advantage of reducing nitrates leaching into groundwater. Continued over page



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Farming Dairy Focus

2 4

from page 3 Casey and Solly hosted a field day at their Backtrack Dairies property recently to reveal the latest data around the project, which is being funded by DairyNZ and AGMARDT and aided by Lincoln University. Casey said many farmers were using the KinseyAlbrecht system of soil nutrient management, but there was little hard data available in New Zealand to back up their belief it was a viable alternative. He hopes the long-running comparison project will be able to attract more funding to keep going for at least 10 years. It should be of interest to all farmers, he says, or at least those wanting to reduce their environmental footprint. The science is easy to understand, still allows farmers to make a profit, and is a perfect opportunity to help market New Zealand farming systems as sustainable to consumers around the world increasingly worried about the state of the planet. And for dairy farmers, it could be part of a massive mindset shift from intensive

farming. The property is ideal for the project: Two farms with similar cropping and fertiliser history on either side of Back Track were bought and converted to dairying in 2012. The 210ha Waiora block with 639 cows is farmed conventionally and the 155ha Whakapono block with 483 cows under the KinseyAlbrecht system. Stocking rates are the same at 3.1 cows per hectare and both herds are milked through separate 54bail automated sheds. Experts are scrutinising every aspect of the two units and poring over the fortnightly reports provided by Casey and Solly, which cover everything from sick cows and pasture growth to milk production and body score. Lincoln University’s senior research officer Glen Greer said the fertilisers used in the project were all conventional commercial products. The only differences between the management of the properties are those that relate directly to the nutrient management system. “We’re monitoring a wide range of KPIs during the


Dairy cows on pasture that is part of the soil nutrient management project.

programme including soil properties, pasture yield and composition, animal production, animal health and financial performance.”

Greer said the objective of the project was to provide farmers with better information on which to base decisions about fertiliser use

and nutrient management. “Significant growth has been observed in the adoption of alternative fertiliser regimes broadly classified as

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“biological soil management”, believed to reduce dependence on nitrogen fertilisers, and argued to have beneficial outcomes for soil and animal


health. However, the impacts on farm performance over time have not been evaluated at farm scale. The project has been a huge commitment by Casey and Solly and their equity partners. They invested heavily at the outset to balance the soils and as both blocks must operate under the same management and ownership for results to have integrity, the Methven couple won’t be able to think about hiring managers or booking a long holiday any time soon. Casey said results throughout have been favourable toward the Kinsey-Albrecht system and improvements in animal health were also showing up. “You have a better quality of feed, due to the extra clover, and the cows perform, but you can’t always grow enough.” They are not surprised by the data and say hundreds of farmers around the country follow the Kinsey-Albrecht formula for soil chemistry – most don’t talk about it though. Evidence of its success was mostly anecdotal in New Zealand and the Backtrack Dairies project is a chance to measure and monitor on a

commercial farm scale. “We are putting some numbers on a system that people believed was working. We are not saying it is a better system, but it is no worse.” It is middle ground for farmers, somewhere between organic and applying traditional amounts of nitrogen-based fertiliser to make things grow. Casey says the science behind the Kinsey-Albrecht method goes back 70 years and had been gaining traction quietly as more farmers looked for solutions to their environmental problems and animal welfare issues, or wanted to add value to their milk, meat or fibre. New Zealand was perfectly poised to market a sustainable farming sector and dairy farmers could still be profitable by reducing stocking rates and making system changes . . . if they wanted to. Casey and Solly think it’s the right thing to do.

The results are on the LUDF website at http://www.siddc. org.nz/research/soil-nutritionmanagement-project/


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The project is supported by a steering committee, including local farmers, and staff from SIDDC, Plant and Food Research and Lincoln University give independent oversight of the farms’ management. Steering committee chairman Tony Zwart said those on the group were “agnostic” about which system was best, but very interested in the results. Casey and Solly had presented a unique opportunity because of the size of their commitment – the money they had spent, the land they had provided and their ongoing management. “You don’t often have many chances to work on that scale.” Interest in the results was widespread, he said, and had become even more important because of regulatory focus on nitrogen leaching. The project was about exploring the management and the biological implications of different types of fertiliser regimes, so hard data was important. “The fact is there are so many people using biological schemes there must be something behind it.” Zwart said it was important work that could potentially help farmers meet environmental regulations and become part of good farming practice. The committee hopes to secure funding beyond the initial three milking seasons.

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Farming Dairy Focus


Tell your good stories, farmers urged Dairy farmers’ biggest challenge is on the domestic front, improving what “Joe Bloggs New Zealanders” think of the industry, says newly-crowned dairy women of the year Jessie Chan-Dorman. The Mid Canterbury dairy farmer owns a dairy business with husband Hayden, milking 950 cows at Dorie. She said the industry’s image at home was important and farmers needed to tell their good stories. “While there are challenges meeting market requirements, and wants and needs, animal welfare and producing a sustainable product, the biggest challenge is at home with the New Zealand public.” She said dairy farmers needed to keep talking about their good work and not be distracted by extreme antidairying opinions. “We need to keep having the conversation. How can we carry on and have a contribution from the dairy industry while being a valued part of the community. It is a long journey.” It was also important people

Mid Canterbury’s Jessie Chan-Dorman.

put a face to the dairy industry and be prepared to talk about it to people in their own communities and outside. Some city people had no direct access to farmers and welcomed a chance


to learn, she said. Rural New Zealand saw firsthand the relationship between the dairy industry and local economies. “When I go to Ashburton I

feel like people understand that their success is directly related to the success of the primary industries.” The Fonterra Dairy Woman of the Year award was presented to Chan-Dorman at the Dairy Women Network’s annual conference in Queenstown earlier this month. She said she had learned a lot since leaving her apartment in Cuba Street, Wellington, and moving to Dorie to milk cows with Hayden. She is now a Fonterra Shareholders’ Councillor and a director of the Ashburton Trading Society, as well as being on the Holstein Friesian New Zealand external affairs committee and a member of the Institute of Directors and New Zealand Asian leaders. She has had roles in large organisations such as DairyNZ and Environment Canterbury, and volunteer positions with Federated Farmers, the Land Use Futures Board, Land and Water forum and Ballance AgriNutrients as a judge for their farm environment awards. Chan-Dorman said a typical day could start with a catch-up with the farm’s fertiliser rep

and later include a national conference call related to policy or governance affecting the country’s 12,000 dairy farmers. She will be standing down from her Federated Farmers role later this year to spend more time on shareholders’ council business. Though she grew up in an urban environment, she has always been in the agricultural sector. She has a first class honours degree in animal science and has worked in various roles across policy, research and development and sustainable farming. On the farm, it is business as usual, as the couple have a winter milk contract. The herd receives supplementary feed on two pads and effluent is captured and kept off wet paddocks. Chan-Dorman said she had no set agenda for the next 12 months apart from continuing to learn and keep contributing to the industry. As part of the dairy woman of the year award, she receives a $20,000 scholarship to undertake a professional development programme.




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Sharing knowledge There aren’t quite enough hours in the day for Katrina Thomas, winner of the Dairy Women’s network dairy community leadership award. Thomas, whose father warned her off marrying a sheep farmer, did just that after 21 years in the tourism industry. She now uses her skills in voluntary roles helping her community, from Plunket to the local primary school and is currently working with Southland Hospice and Winton FarmSource to establish a calf-rearing scheme for this season. The community award recognises the voluntary role dairy farming women have in leading their communities and sharing their time and skills beyond the farm gate. Born and raised on a sheep farm in Tuatapere, Thomas and husband James milk 840 cows in Wreys Bush, converting from sheep farming to dairy in 2011. Thomas managed the conversion of the farm while being branch president of Central Southland Plunket. In 2012 she became DWN’s regional convenor for Invercargill and in 2016 took on a new role as the Southern Regional Hub leader. She has been nominated for a seat on the DWN national board of trustees representing other regional convenors. She is president of the Takitimu Primary School’s PTA and the Western Tennis Association. Each month she also produces the Takitimu Community Newsletter and runs its Facebook page. Thomas said she was used to working collaboratively with many different groups. The dairy industry, like her former New Zealand Tourism Board employers, was about marketing New Zealand. Dairy farmers needed to stay positive and be proactive about their industry, she said. “You get knocked down but you get back up, because without dairying the unemployment situation would be dire.” Thomas said the industry was great at sharing knowledge so all farmers could improve. One of her major projects in the next 12 months will be with Southland

Katrina Thomas.


Hospice, encouraging farmers to donate a calf that they would feed for several months and auction off for the charity. She said she was also looking forward to taking up the scholarship for the Community Enterprise Leadership Foundation programme, which is delivered in conjunction with the University of Waikato management school. Dairy Women Network CEO Zelda de Villiers says Thomas puts her years of experience and knowledge to use well for the benefit of her community. “Katrina is very generous with her knowledge, de Villiers says. “She’s one of those people who can build great relationships wherever she goes and is always asking ‘how can I help?’ “She embodies exactly what we look for in a dairy community leader, she’s approachable and down-to-earth, but works hard and keeps the wheels turning.”

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Farming Dairy Focus


Taking notice of the innovators Back in the good old days I’d go to discussion groups. We’d have a look at somebody else’s farm and have the same arguments about rotation lengths that we’d had at the previous month’s discussion group, then I’d be back home in time to help the bobby truck driver lift the calves onto the truck. Back then there were mechanical scales next to the door so you could weigh the ones the driver rejected as too light; he was always right and invariably took the weighing with good humour. I haven’t been to a discussion group in a long time, but last week I was invited to a focus group by an agricultural company looking to develop apps for farmers. I sat in a room full of successful and intelligent people and listened as they discussed the challenges facing farming; environment, staffing, immigration, animal welfare and, after the reality of all these things, the public perception of them. Payout was only mentioned briefly and I assume the debates over

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rotation length have long been settled because it wasn’t mentioned at all. By and large we agreed the apps the company were looking to develop weren’t that useful and if they did develop them we certainly wouldn’t pay for them. The facilitator looked on with increasing despair as we drank her coffee and took the conversation off track into areas we found more interesting. Not going to discussion groups doesn’t mean I’m out of the loop though, I’m watching with interest as the farmers on Twitter show how they’re complying with the new bobby calf regulations. Of course I interject smugly that we’ve had raised

platforms in Canterbury for eight years now, driven by health and safety concerns from the trucking companies, and I haven’t seen roadside calf collection since I came to the South Island 14 years ago. Some farmers aren’t content with merely complying with bobby calf regulations, they’re intent on eliminating bobbies from the farming process altogether. Jenny Aplin, a farmer I follow on Twitter, is well on the way to doing


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this with Wagyu sires. After some conversations with Jenny and others who use Wagyu I’ve looked into it myself. At $150 for a week-old calf compared with $50 on the bobby truck for a 4-day-old calf the numbers really stack up, minimising the number of calves going as bobbies is the icing on the cake but an animal welfare advocate’s dream. I may not go to discussion groups and I may be guilty of not being fully focused at focus

groups, but I take notice of the innovators out there like Jenny. I have access to the thoughts of hundreds of farmers via Twitter, from the mundane to the brilliant, and they’re happy for people to pick up their ideas and run with them. `We’ve all got the same concerns and there’s people out there sharing truly imaginative ways to address them, you’ve just got to be prepared to listen.

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Dairy Focus



The effects of aging Andrew Curtis


Getting old. It happens to all of us. Man, woman, animal, infrastructure – we are all at the mercy of time. The ‘infrastructure’ that supports the human body grows weak, bits fall off, other bits threaten with creaks and groans and we can’t hold as much ‘water’ as we once did. It’s hardly surprising then that the infrastructure that supports our communities, particularly water infrastructure like water treatment facilities, storage dams, bores and pipes, are in dire need of some antiaging investment. Much of it was built in the days of Think Big, a lot of it is older than you and me. The latest Government report on New Zealand’s fresh-

Rural people are investing in water infrastructure, but are city people?

water environment exposes aging infrastructure as a key threat to water quality, quantity and biodiversity. Amongst the flurry of recent

reports, Our Freshwater 2017 was the first to detail the pressure humans are putting on our freshwater environments. Not cows, not irrigators, but

people. Particularly the type of people who live in large, urban environments, serviced by old, leaky infrastructure. Our Freshwater 2017 out-

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lined in detail the effects of land-based human activities on our waterways. In urban environments, it showed contaminants entering



water bodies mainly through storm water and wastewater networks, illegal connections to these networks, and leaky pipes, pumps, and connections.


It found nitrate-nitrogen concentration was 18 times higher in the urban land-cover class and 10 times higher in the pastoral class compared with the ‘native’ class; e.coli concentration was 22 times higher in the urban land-cover class and 9.5 times higher in the pastoral class compared with the native class. And yet people are still calling for a moratorium on cows. If we’re to have any hope of addressing the pressures on our freshwater resources, New Zealanders need to take a deep breath and have an adult conversation about investment. And by ‘investment’ I mean rates. There’s no way around it. A few years’ back, the Government was talking about a looming ‘tsunami’ of old people – that soon, the over65s would well outnumber the working-age population, who’s taxes we need to fund increased aged-care services, healthcare budgets, welfare payments, not to mention the flow-on effects on council and community service provision. I’m loathe to use the word ’tsunami’ when talking about

The latest Government report on New Zealand’s freshwater environment exposes aging infrastructure as a key threat to water quality, quantity and biodiversity

old dams, but the reality is, our aging population is being feebly supported by council infrastructure that isn’t up to scratch. Auckland council can’t separate its stormwater from its wastewater from its harbour; a lack of investment in its municipal supply infrastructure was cited as a contributing fac-

tor to Havelock North’s gastro outbreak earlier this year. Last week, we watched as Hawke’s Bay councillors fought amongst themselves about investing in modern infrastructure that could potentially deliver millions of dollars in economic growth. So, let’s take a look at the communities who’ve invested in infrastructure. Canterbury – through Central Plains Water - is a good example. Farmers are making money on the back of a secure water supply; the community has benefited from its estimated $370 million contribution to economic growth and the environment is being enhanced through groundwater recharge and catchment augmentation. South Canterbury’s Opuha Water supplies water for irrigation, electricity and town supply. Investment in this infrastructure has added $124 million to the local economy, and through their ‘adaptive water management’ approach, ensured the river flows even in times of drought and the community always has access to a reliable supply of water.

So here we have farmers, and rural councils, willing to invest in water infrastructure and upgrades because they can see it’s good for their household income, their community and their environment. We have the Government, through Crown Irrigation Investments and the Irrigation Acceleration Fund, willing to invest in irrigation infrastructure because it delivers tangible economic, environmental and social benefits. And then we have urban people, unwilling to invest in infrastructure because they don’t understand the benefits and they refuse to acknowledge their contribution to New Zealand’s water quality issues. This is where councils need to step up - urban ones in particular. They need to do a much better job at talking to their communities about the value of infrastructure and the need to invest in it and they need to be open and honest about the pressure being placed on our environment, and our economy, if they don’t invest in it.

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Farming Dairy Focus


Get involved in SIDE Dairy farmers are being encouraged to immerse themselves in the South Island Dairy Event (SIDE) at Lincoln next month. The theme of the three-day event is Controlling the Controllable and SIDE chairman Steve Booker said farmers had been doing just that for the past couple of years while the payout was low. “It has been a good opportunity to focus on all aspects of our businesses, from questioning costs and feed inputs to asking ourselves whether or not we are running the most financially sustainable systems.” The SIDE event programme had been put together with that background in mind, a diverse range of speakers who will cover a wide range of topics to provoke, challenge and question farmers. “SIDE is an ideal opportunity for delegates to learn and pick up ideas that they can take back to their own businesses to help improve productivity and profitability. It is also a great opportunity for farmers to network with other likeminded people, especially at the


evening social functions.” The event includes workshops and guest speakers and is based at Lincoln University. Keynote speaker on day one will be former DairyNZ chairman John Luxton. He oversaw the development of DairyNZ, which was a merger of Dexcel and Dairy Insight.

He has played a key role in policy and legislative changes in New Zealand, including the foundation work that led to the formation of Fonterra and the deregulation of producer boards. In his time the dairy industry grew to a peak of 42,240 jobs in 2014-15 and contributed

$13.2 billion to export revenue. He represented the industry in the Trade Pacific Partnership Agreement negotiations, helped launch a new strategy for sustainable dairy farming and the water accord in 2013. Other guest speakers include entrepreneur Jake Millar, 20, KPMG lead partner Ian

Proudfoot, former All Black Richard Loe and motor racing legend Greg Murphy. Workshops include topics like fertiliser management, immigration preparing for a farm environment audit and social media tips. The event runs June 26-28. Go to www.side.org.nz

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Managing stock in wintry weather As people hunker down for another cold New Zealand winter, challenging times also lie ahead for animals exposed to the elements out on farms. However AgResearch scientists say a wealth of research is now providing a much greater understanding of how the livestock cope with the wintry weather, and what can be done to help manage them through those icy periods. “It’s understandable that people – especially those unfamiliar with rural life – might see animals out in a paddock in tough conditions, and be concerned for their welfare,” says AgResearch’s Animal Welfare Science Team Leader Jim Webster. “Our research into dairy cows tells us that they can generally cope well in cold weather, as long as they are in good condition, healthy and well fed. While extreme cold can result in stress on the animals, they are able to adjust with physiological adaptations such as thickening of their skin and coats, and drawing on their fat reserves.” “Cows are typically more affected by heat than by cold as lactation and rumination generate heat which can protect against cold, but can cause overheating in warm conditions.”

grazing stance of a cow and reduces their feed intake. This can lead to underfeeding, so farmers should check what fodder the cows leave behind to estimate how much they have eaten, and, if necessary, allow them more space and time to feed on sloped land.

“It’s important to ensure the farm team understands a cow’s needs, and what sort of winter conditions can affect them.” More information is available for farmers at: https://www.dairynz.co.nz/animal/ herd-management/cows-on-crop/

There are things that farmers can do to make a real difference to support their cows

“For New Zealand cows, it is probably more the rain and wind that is threatening their wellbeing, as they want a dry and soft place to lie down. Cows really don’t want to lie down in wet or muddy conditions. We know that daily periods of lying down are important for cows, and if they don’t lie down enough, this negatively affects their health and productivity.” “Our research has shown that there are things that farmers can do to make a real difference to support their cows through the coldest and wettest periods. That includes providing shelter where practical, as cows will naturally seek it out in rainy and windy conditions. “Providing extra feed can be a buffer in terms of energy and heat generation from digesting the food before the adverse conditions set in, as cows may tend to reduce their food intake during wet and cold weather. Ensuring the cows have good fat reserves to draw on going into the coldest periods is important, as is keeping a close eye on younger and thinner animals as they are more sensitive to inclement weather. “Another thing farmers can do is to provide dry, comfortable areas for the cows to lie in during the cold and wet conditions. Typically they will lie down less during these times, so looking for ways to increase this behaviour will be a real benefit.” DairyNZ’s animal husbandry and welfare specialist Helen Thoday says when the weather turns and there is a combination of cold, wind and rain farmers should ensure cows can access shelter. “It’s good practice when cows are grazing winter crops to fence them front and back, allowing them to access only a narrow strip of fodder at any one time. This helps to protect the soil and prevent them from stamping over and spoiling

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fodder. However, when the weather turns nasty we recommend farmers drop the back fence so their cows can move to shelter,” she says. “Another consideration is that good environmental practice is to graze cows downhill, however, grazing downhill interrupts the natural

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2 14

Farming Dairy Focus


Clever thinking on a budget Mid Canterbury dairy farmers Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley will be special guests at two big agricultural events next month, as newly-crowned share farmers of the year. The couple, who milk 515 cows on Graham Brooker’s farm at Lauriston, will be attending the New Zealand Agricultural Fieldays at Mystery Creek on June 14-17 and the South Island Dairy Event at Lincoln on June 26-28. The O’Malleys were among the stars from the CanterburyNorth Otago region at the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards. Kerry Higgins, who farms at Hororata, was runnerup in the manager of the year category, and Mid Canterbury’s Ben Haley was runnerup in the dairy trainee awards. It was a rollercoaster night of emotion for the O’Malleys, with Christopher’s father taking a turn at the awards and was taken to hospital. The couple said their livestock trading with A2 cows attracted plenty of attention and impressed judges. With the milk payout down, they DNA-profiled their whole herd, including tests to identify A2 cows. They then sold those cows at a premium to dairy farmers building exclusive A2 herds. “In the end, the money we made was the difference between us losing a lot of money and breaking even.” Share farmer head judge Neil Gray said the O’Malleys demonstrated strongly that you can put together a high-quality herd of cows within a budget constraint. “They put a lot of effort into finding the right cows and travelled many kilometres in the car around New Zealand to find the ones they wanted. “They have gone on to use this herd to add value to their

Siobhan and Christopher O’Malley will be farming in the spotlight of their share farmer of the year crown.

business by thinking outside the box. They DNA-profiled their herd and selected the A2 cows that were fetching a premium in the livestock market in the Canterbury region. Even though they weren’t receiving a premium for A2 milk, they were able to receive a premium for A2 cows by selling them to that market. “A clever, innovative idea to maximise livestock income that enabled them to come through a low-payout season without going into further debt.” He said the couple also demonstrated a passion to give back to the industry and this was evident in their selfless ap-

proach to their business and in their relationships with other people. “They possess an empathy with their whole farm team. They were very strong with their human resource management and have developed their team and delegated areas of responsibility to assist their staff to achieve. For example, one of the staff members was in charge of dairy hygiene, and when the operation received a Fonterra award for highest quality milk, it was their staff member that accepted it. “They are also connecting with schools and trying to promote good, positive images of

dairy farming which is fantastic to see in a couple so early in their sharemilking career.” The judges awarded Hayley Hoogendyk the dairy manager of the year title and Clay Paton is dairy trainee of the year. Gray said the judges were impressed to see all 33 finalists had a strong focus on environmental issues and they understood the impact agriculture has on the environment. “They had some fantastic systems to manage dairy farm effluent and were aware of the public perception around these issues as well. “There was also a strong focus on animal welfare coming through.


The condition and health of the herd was a priority for all finalists and they were genuinely aware of their responsibilities around animal health and welfare. That was definitely a strength for every finalist. “This is my third year judging and it’s been wonderful to see the use of technology on farm increase over that time and used so well. The younger people are using the advances in technology to their advantage and there is just so much you can do with it now, from data collection through to communicating with their staff.”

FULL RESULTS 2017 New Zealand Share Farmer of the Year: ■■ Winner – Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley, Canterbury-North Otago ■■ Runner-up – Carlos and Bernice Delos Santos, Central Plateau ■■ Third – Dion and Johanna Bishell, Taranaki ■■ DairyNZ Human Resources Award – Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley ■■ Ecolab Farm Dairy Hygiene Award – Carlos and Bernice Delos Santos ■■ Federated Farmers Leadership Award – Jon and Vicki Nicholls ■■ Fonterra Farm Source Interview Award – Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley

■■ Honda Farm Safety and Health Award – Dion and Johanna Bishell ■■ LIC Recording and Productivity Award – Christopher and Siobhan O’Malley ■■ Meridian Energy Farm Environment Award – Dion and Johanna Bishell ■■ Ravensdown Pasture Performance Award – Russell and Tracy Bouma ■■ Westpac Business Performance Award – Dion and Johanna Bishell

2017 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year: ■■ Winner – Hayley Hoogendyk, Manawatu ■■ Runner-up – Kerry Higgins,

Canterbury-North Otago ■■ Third – Rachel Foy, Auckland-Hauraki ■■ Dairy Manager of the Year Interview Award – Greg Imeson ■■ DairyNZ Employee Engagement Award – Anthony Kiff ■■ Meridian Energy Leadership Award – Jack Raharuhi ■■ Fonterra Farm Source Feed Management Award – Rachel Foy ■■ DeLaval Livestock Management Award – Shaun Neal ■■ PrimaryITO Power Play Award – Hayley Hoogendyk ■■ Fonterra Farm Source Dairy Management Award – Kerry Higgins ■■ Westpac Financial Management &

Planning Award – Kerry Higgins

2017 New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year: ■■ Winner – Clay Paton, West Coast-Top of the South ■■ Runner-up – Ben Haley, CanterburyNorth Otago ■■ Third – Taylor Macdonald, Central Plateau ■■ DairyNZ Practical Skills Award – Taylor Macdonald ■■ NZDIA Communication and Engagement Award – Ben Haley ■■ Best Video Award presented by Spyglass – Clay Paton


Correct identification. Check. Better genetic gain. Check. Better returns. Cheque. Approximately one in four* calves born are mis-mothered, mis-tagged or mis-recorded. And with it costing around $1,600 to rear a calf through to first lactation, that’s a lot of money and potential genetic gain on the line if you get it wrong. GeneMark® parentage testing helps you to accurately match calves to the correct dam and sire, so you can ensure you’re not just rearing the best calves but you’re also getting the best returns. Cheque. To find out more talk to your LIC rep or visit lic.co.nz/genemark *Based on five case studies conducted by LIC from 2010-2012

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Farming Dairy Focus


Focus on attracting young blood The newly-crowned dairy manager of the year and Primary ITO Power Play Award winner Hayley Hoogendyk believes school leavers need greater encouragement to see the dairy industry as a viable career option. Hoogendyk, a Primary ITO trainee, picked up the prestigious titles at this month’s New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards and plans to focus her future efforts on training current and future staff, particularly young students, to help them achieve their own career goals. “Farmers spend a lot of time and money on genetics and young stock to future-proof their herd, but they forget that young people need the same attention to future-proof our industry,” the 28-year-old, from Manawatu, said. “At the moment the general attitude among teachers and career advisers is that farming is for students who aren’t academic and have no other options. I really want to change that opinion. It’s a very hands-on, varied industry and

Hayley Hoogendyk wants to encourage more school leavers into the dairy industry.

if you’re a switched-on person you can go a long way pretty quickly.” Hoogendyk has herself enjoyed a meteoric rise over the past five years. She left behind her previous career in event management and is now the farm manager for Te Paratai Farms, a 220ha 600cow property in Rongotea owned by Roger and Noelene Taylor and Nigel Taylor. She is halfway through studying towards a Level 5 Diploma

in Agribusiness Management with Primary ITO, having completed multiple other qualifications. She said her new career choice was initially laughed at. “I was told by others I was a small, skinny girl who couldn’t handle farming. I’ve really enjoyed proving everyone wrong.” She enjoys all aspects of dairy farming but her strengths lie in human resources and people



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management which is why she chose the ‘team management’ category for this year’s Power Play Award. The Power Play Award was introduced for the first time last year. It enables entrants in the Dairy Manager of the Year competition to ‘play to their strengths’ and choose one of five topics to present to the judges. “Ultimately, I see myself overseeing multiple farms,

and employing young people, to give them their first opportunity,” Hayley says. “I would also like to have first-time managers and contract milkers so I can support them and help them learn and embrace new opportunities.” Primary ITO courses were a key way young farmers could upskill themselves and propel their careers forward, she says. “It gives you a deeper understanding of the different ways you can do things on a farm, how to do them properly, and how they affect the business as a whole. The study I have done has definitely been valuable and rewarding.” Primary ITO Chief executive Linda Sissons has congratulated Hoogendyk on both of her awards. “I was delighted to present Hayley with the Power Play Award signalling her initiative and flexibility. The dairy industry needs people like Hayley who are technically capable, innovative problem-solvers and with critical thinking skills - key areas our training supports.”

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New milk cooling requirements are coming…

Farming Dairy Focus



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Raw milk is required to • Be cooled to 10ºC or below within four hours of the commencement of milking; and • Be cooled to 6ºC or below within the sooner of: – six hours from the commencement of milking, or – two hours from the completion of milking; and • Be held at or below 6ºC without freezing until collection or the next milking; and • Not exceed 10ºC during subsequent milkings

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Scott Mackenzie of Stewart & Holland adjusting the controls of a refrigeration system. 


Are you ready? Dairy farmers have just 12 months to ensure their in-shed milk cooling systems are compliant with new rules introduced by the Ministry for Primary Industries. Raw milk must be cooled to 10°C or below within four hours of the start of milking and be cooled to 6°C within two hours of the completion of milking and within six hours of the start of milking. It must also be held at or below 6°C until collection or the next milking, and additional milkings into the vat must not exceed 10°C. On farms where there is continuous milking, such as a robotic system, the milk must enter the bulk milk tank at 6°C or below. The new rules introduced by the Ministry for Primary Industries, and forecast to farmers for the past two years, give farmers until June 1, 2018, to ensure their milk meets the required temperature in the vat. The current 40-year-old regulations required raw milk to be held at or stay below 7°C within three hours of completion and stay at 7°C until collection. The changes were being driven by New Zealand’s export markets to bring the country into line with the rest of the world. It would allow New Zealand to argue its standards were as good as those found in the European Union or Asia. Farmers must also have an auditable system that confirms these new rules are met. DairyNZ says milk cooling affects milk quality.

The quicker the milk is cooled after milking, the better the quality when it is collected from the farm. Milk cooling accounts for about 30 per cent of the total energy costs of operating a dairy. Energy demand and farm diary operating costs can be reduced using different options that involve heat recovery from cooling systems. Farmers with non-compliant systems risk penalties as raw milk grows bacteria rapidly above 7°C. Meeting the new milk cooling standards, which come into effect for all farms on June 1, 2018, may mean changes are required for your system, says Mark Cartwright of Stewart & Holland. “We can help you be milk cooling compliant, whether it is a new dairy or retro-fitting to existing dairies.” Stewart & Holland are Mid Canterbury suppliers of water chillers, Packo dairy cooling products, standard refrigeration, pre-cooling design and heat recovery system. The Packo Ice Builder is the result of many years of experience in cooling liquids for the dairy and food industry. The Packo Ice Builder builds up an ice reserve with which it can make a large amount of ice water at zero degrees. Stewart and Holland can make an assessment of the best option going forward which can include using existing equipment and new. Contact Mark at Stewart & Holland for this assessment. Advertising feature




It’s the final countdown There is only 12 months to go before all farms are required to comply with the new MPI Milk Cooling Regulations and refrigeration companies are already straining with the additional workload with large numbers of snap-chilling systems going out the door. The autumn period is traditionally quieter in this industry, although this season astute dairy farmers have made the most of this by ordering equipment with a view to having it installed as soon as possible and not being caught in the looming workload bottleneck steaming towards us. We estimate there are still some 250 to 300 farms in Canterbury that will be non-compliant with the new regulations and, while there are a number of those requiring a small investment to become compliant, there are a very large number requiring a larger capital investment to ensure regulation compliance. The Dairy Refrigeration Industry is a relatively small and specialised industry and as such there is limited capacity

to manufacture and install new chilling equipment and from now there will be a growing waiting list for new equipment and delays before farmers can say they are now regulation compliant. Inevitably the prices will become significantly higher than those we see currently, especially once the lower New Zealand Dollar pricing flows through to equipment and componentry prices (as nearly all refrigeration components are imported). Unfortunately, predictions are the workload associated with this situation will multiply to around three times that of current capacity and due to a shortage of skilled staff and resources this will not eventuate, necessitating delays in the (otherwise urgent) supply and installation of cooling equipment.

So what should farmers do?

Our suggestion is where your farm dairy has been assessed and you know you need to spend on new equipment, commit now

while prices are historically low and the waiting list for equipment and installation is still manageable. Be flexible when it comes to installation times and encourage this to be completed as soon as possible. Where farmers are unsure of their compliance situation, talk to your refrigeration provider now as they should

have an idea of where your dairy sits and what will need to be done. Ensure you are getting impartial advice from your provider and that they are able to recommend and provide the most suitable option for your dairy and this will require them to be supplying a range of equipment as

the dairy and farmer’s requirements vary greatly between farms. Remember, you do not have to spend $80,000 to become compliant. – Murray Hollings, Dairycool Ltd Advertising feature




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2 20

Farming Dairy Focus



Quality service and products Our mission: Through the knowledge and ability of our people and the technology of our products we deliver the best possible solutions to our customers. Dairy Cooling Solutions, a division of Eurotec Ltd, was established to supply solutions to meet the dairy sectors milkcooling technology challenges, improving efficiency and milk quality on the farm with premium milk cooling solutions. Complementary to Dairy Cooling Solutions is our CPS division. Eurotec is already well known to the dairy industry having supplied dairy panel solutions to customers since 2008. In 2012 the Control Panel Solutions division (CPS) was established to reflect the growing control panels business. Since its establishment in 1985 Eurotec has been building a reputation not only as an importer and marketer of a wide range of superior quality controls, instrumentation, gas detection, humidification and ice-making equipment for the HVAC, refrigeration, industrial

The Dairy Cooling Solutions site at the 2017 Central District Field Days.

process, electrical and food industries, but also as a company whose people are committed to providing their clients with total quality service. Eurotec is proud to be appointed the New Zealand distributor for Packo Inox, a leading European manufactur-

er of dairy cooling products. Packo is considered a pioneer in the field of milk cooling and is the oldest milk cooling tank manufacturer in the world. For over 20 years, Packo’s presence in Australia has resulted in over 1500 new Packo milk cooling tanks installed


on farms - and now available to NZ farmers through Dairy Cooling Solutions. Packo is an innovative manufacturer of stainless steel components and installation for hygiene sensitive applications and processes. You can count on more than 50 years’ experience in the food

and dairy industry and the pharmaceutical sector. With 40 Packo Ice Builder installations nationwide in the past 18 months and more units arriving and leaving almost every other week, the ice builders are living up to their reputation of excellent quality and efficiency. With over 30 trusted DCS partner installers across the country from Kerikeri to Invercargill, you can feel confident you have a professional installer in your area for advice and support. Dairy Cooling Solutions also installed the first Packo horizontal milk cooling tank in New Zealand in September, 2016, in Karaka, Auckland. For more information check out the DCS website; dairycoolingsolutions.nz, talk to your refrigeration contractor, and come and see DCS/Packo milk cooling technologies operating at the National Field Days® at Mystery Creek® Events Centre, Hamilton. You’ll find us at stand I29 where you will be able to see a Packo Ice Builder live in action! Advertising feature

WHY A DCS MILK COOLING SYSTEM IS THE BEST INVESTMENT IN YOUR FARM European design and quality - Over 50 years experience in developing milk cooling tanks and one of Europe’s leading Dairy Cooling Systems producers for the needs of farmers around the world – from Mexico to Japan, from Russia to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Horizontal Milk Cooling Tanks with Iced Water Cooling – 50% more effective in cooling the milk compared to standard direct expansion systems without any risk of freezing the milk due to the water temperature of +0.5 > 1.0degC. Highly suitable for AMS (Robotic Farming Systems) with low milk flows – no risk of freezing the milk. Energy Saving with Packo Ice Builders (PIB’s) – thanks to the ice energy store build-up during night time hours, a smaller refrigeration unit can be installed plus the potential savings of off-peak power rates.

Improved Milk quality through Snap Chilling = potentially a higher return adding PROFITS to the farm. For 30yrs Eurotec has been supplying the NZ Refrigeration Industry with leading Global Brands. The only NZ supplier of this technology providing nationwide coverage and After Sales Support with branches in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch with over 30 Approved Refrigeration Installers throughout the country from Invercargill to Whangarei. Check out the DCS website www.dairycoolingsolutions.nz, talk to your refrigeration contractor, and come and see DCS/Packo milk cooling technologies operating at the National Field Days® at Mystery® Creek Events Centre, Hamilton. Packo Ice Banks

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When it comes to chillers, a lot has been said about the stick. We’d like to show you the carrot.

Understanding the new regulations is critical in assessing requirements and PHOTO SUPPLIED options to be compliant.

Don’t be last! Ensure you will be compliant for June 1, 2018. system. Along with an understanding of your future business plans, they can then talk through suggested solutions, if needed, to be compliant. Their goal is to get you to where you need and want to be, whether that’s “meeting, beating or thrashing” the new regulations. Getting in early earns peace of mind. For Hauraki Plains dairy farmer, Graham Brocklehurst and his wife Vicki, getting ahead of the game was all about peace of mind for them. “Fonterra had been issuing notes on their tickets saying in 2018 this would be a grade etc. I didn’t want to have dumped or graded milk,” Brocklehurst said. “I also saw there was a risk to waiting in that every second farmer in New Zealand could then be wanting to get sorted at the same time. “I wanted to get it out of the way, to have simplicity, and peace of mind. I also wanted to have it in for at least one summer to make sure it works through the hottest months. “The solution required for our operation was smaller and cheaper than I thought and we’re not ever going to have to worry about our milk getting above 10°C at the end of milking.” Although smaller, Brocklehurst has future-proofed his refrigeration with - as he puts it - “a man’s system doing a boy’s job”. His advice is simple. “Get on with it as soon as you can so you can make sure you’re happy with it and know it’s working before June 1, 2018.” Advertising feature

Given that you have to do something to meet the new milk cooling regulations, why not find a way to turn it to your advantage? We can show you how.

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The date for the change to milk cooling regulations is only a little over a year away. If you’re a farmer holding off thinking the date may get pushed out or the changes will not go ahead, unfortunately the answer is they won’t. This is a Ministry of Primary Industries led initiative, not the dairy companies. Some farmers are also not aware that new sheds need to be compliant with the new regulations immediately at the time of installation and not June 1, 2018. And if you’re a farmer wondering just how long you can wait? The smart decision would be to act now and not run the risk of noncompliance by waiting any longer. Independent industry estimates suggest around a third of dairy farms need significant upgrades such as increased refrigeration capacity or pre-chilling to be compliant. Another third needs only relatively modest tweaks and the remainder already comply. A last-minute rush makes almost certain there will not be enough product or resources in New Zealand to meet this high demand. Shortages in product have already been experienced in some areas. Non-compliance means you run the risk of demerit points or grading costs. Who wants that? The good news: Getting sorted is easy. Just get in touch with your local Tru-Test On Farm Solutions Dairy rep. They’re happy to come on farm and assess your current milk cooling

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Farming Dairy Focus



Don’t get caught in a last minute-rush to be compliant for the new milk cooling regulations.


Regulation confusion costing farmers Te Awamutu dairy farmer Brian Chick thought the new milk cooling regulations were based on the milk temperature going into the vat, and so doubted his compliance. He contacted his local supplier whose assessment indicated he needed to install one of two options, ranging in cost from $25k - $40k. Seeking another quote, Brian contacted his local Tru-Test rep whose assessment showed he was already compliant. Chick now can’t stress enough that “it really pays to understand what the regulations actually require and talk to a number of suppliers.” With their nationwide team encountering examples like this across the country, TruTest has become concerned at the level of confusion over the incoming regulations. “This confusion is resulting in some farmers spending unnecessarily or over spending to upgrade their

equipment. Given the current economic climate, it’s more important than ever farmers are only investing where they need to, and in ways that will give them the best return,” says Tru-Test’s New Zealand General Manager, Verne Atmore. To assist with this, Tru-Test has sought technical clarification on the new regulations.

Farmers need to first ask themselves: Am I milking under or over four hours? For those under four, there are only two things you need to worry about; that your milk is down to 6°C within two hours of completing milking, and that your blended temperature is no more than 10°C at the end of any additional milkings.

milk; if they are milking for longer than six hours or if they have a robotic milker. If you’re not one of these farmers, then there are no specific rules as to your refrigeration requirements. As long as you’re meeting the outcomes required for your milking timeframes, how you do it should be determined by what’s best for your business,

It really pays, with all of the developments in this area, to talk to a range of suppliers to make sure you firstly have to make changes to your operation to be compliant

The regulations are very outcome based. Compliance is determined by the tank milk temperature at the end of the stated timeframes. Not the temperature of milk going into the vat. Compliance is meeting the stated temperatures at the end of your milking cycle whether that’s single or blended.

For those milking for over four hours, it’s a little more complicated. You need to have your milk down to 10°C within four hours of the commencement of milking. It must then be down to 6°C within six hours. It’s important to note there are only two areas where farmers must snap chill their

budget and infrastructure. That’s where a good refrigeration supplier should be earning their keep. Tru-Test offers a full range of milk cooling solutions including ice bank, water and glycol pre-cooling options along with refrigeration units, new and second hand vats, and vat insulation wraps.

They can assess your compliance and then tailor a solution once your level of compliance has been determined. They’re also serious about on-farm support, operating a 7-day nationwide call centre and providing service support. “Farmers have so many more cooling options now. We have moved beyond the one size fits all approach with a range of solutions that will meet considerations like shed size, milking frequency and water use. As well as future proofing against further regulation changes and herd expansion,” Atmore said. “It really pays, with all of the developments in this area, to talk to a range of suppliers to make sure you firstly have to make changes to your operation to be compliant, and secondly, that any investment best suits your operation.” Advertising feature

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Farming Dairy Focus



New rules require better calf care With calving around the corner, it’s time for farmers to make sure they have their calf loading facility sorted. New regulations that come into effect on August 1 have been introduced by the Ministry for Primary Industries and they affect any farmer sending calves off farm for sale or slaughter, as well as transport operators and meat processors of young calves. The ministry is calling for a team effort to ensure all calves are treated with respect, from birth to beyond the farm gate. Farmers not prepared to comply could be fined. One of the new regulations requires farmers to provide loading and unloading facilities for calves. This means that calves can walk onto and off vehicles on their own. Shelter must also be provided for calves before, during and after transportation. Before you get out the timber and nails, talk to your transporter to ensure the loading facility will be in the right spot and accessible for

the truck, and the people working with the calves. Ideally the loading facility will be at or near the bobby calf rearing pen. Holding and loading facilities should be designed and constructed so that calves are able to walk directly from the loading facility onto the truck. Health and safety regulations mean that it is no longer acceptable for transporters to repeatedly

lift calves from the ground to truck deck height. Building consent is not normally required if it is a temporary, moveable or detached structure or is a permanent structure that: • has a floor level of up to 1m above the supporting ground and a height of up to 3.5m above the floor level • does not exceed 10m² in floor area • is further than its measured

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height from any existing dwelling or boundary, i.e. if the holding pen is 3m high it must not be built within 3m of any existing dwelling or property boundary. There must be shelter from the elements and fresh water available for the calves. A good option is to buy a commercial holding platform from a timber merchant or a farm supply store.

They offer a variety of kit-sets, typically moveable, made of timber on skids. Not all kitset platforms are supplied with a roof, so you may need to place them within an existing structure to provide sufficient shelter from extreme weather conditions. Alternatively, build your own but check on www.dairynz.co.nz for specifications. Advertising feature

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Good housing attracts good staff

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Staff moving on at the end of the season? It’s the ideal time to catch up with maintenance or improvement to on-farm houses. The Dairy Women’s Network says good accommodation and housing equals good staff, so it’s a job worth doing. Gone are the days when staff were expected to put up with old, cold cottages. There will be a payoff in staff morale for making sure damage is repaired, the paint is fresh and there’s insulation in the roof. A dishwasher would be the icing on the cake. By law, all workplaces have to be smoke-free, and that includes the accommodation if they share with others. Staff can be restricted to smoking on their patio, or the tanker track or outside the farm gate. A smoke-free condition also saves carpets, drapes and walls from damage. DairyNZ agrees, saying where a person lives has a huge impact on how happy and secure they feel. Warm, safe and dry homes help keep an employee and their family in good health. Space, good quality fittings and fixtures, appliances that function and aesthetically appealing houses make a home. Ensure that the accommodation your new employee and any family will


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inhabit, is better than appropriate, and able to become a happy and secure home for them. Walk through the house/ accommodation and consider what needs improving or replacing to ensure the house is warm, safe and dry. Then action those changes. It must be at a likeable standard as per the Residential Tenancy Act and the Health and Safety Act.

Ensure your accommodation is in a good state and ready for your new employee

Consider what changes you could make which would positively impact living in the house. This might include paint, a deck, a new oven or a place to put wet weather gear. If your budget allows then action one, or some, of these suggestions. Ensure your accommodation is in a good state and ready for your new employee and complete regular reviews of state of the house and consider what improvements you could make. Advertising feature

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2 26

Farming Dairy Focus


Dairy farmers taking their environm Dairy farmers are changing their mindset to wanting to minimise environmental impacts as much as possible, says Mid Canterbury dairy farmer Tom Mason on the release of the water accord progress report this month. The report says 97 per cent of New Zealand dairy cattle are fenced off from waterways on farms, the distance equivalent from Auckland to Chicago and back. The Water Accord is a voluntary project launched in 2013 and led by the industry to improve farming practices and water quality. In addition, the project update reported 83 per cent of farmers (compared to 56% in 201314) are now getting nitrogen information to help them farm more responsibly – with 9517 nutrient budgets processed last year. The nitrogen management programme collects data to show nitrogen loss on-farm. This enables farmers to make improvements to their farm systems to reduce nitrogen loss and improve efficiency of use.

In addition, national levels of significant non-compliance for dairy effluent systems on farms have dropped to their lowest ever, at 5.2 % (down from seven % in 2013-14). Mason said dairy farming received a lot of bad publicity, but the report results showed farmers wanted to achieve better environmental outcomes. “There’s a mindset change from dairy farmers to defending a position, to saying ‘Yes well maybe there’s a bit of truth in that and we need to do all we can to minimise our environment impact’,” Mason said. Mason believed Mid Canterbury would be leading the pack on nutrient budgeting, due to irrigation schemes specifying this as part of their eligibility criteria. He farmed three dairy farms in the Mid Canterbury area, at Pendarves and Dorie, none of which bordered waterways. However he was still involved on a family farm in Taranaki and had done a lot of work over 20 years fencing off waterways.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy says farmers deserve credit.

Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said dairy farmers deserved credit for the leadership shown over recent years. “There has been a major reduction in pollution entering our lakes and rivers from dairy sheds, factories and town

effluent systems.” The Green Party also welcomed the report, saying farmers had made good progress. “Fencing dairy stock from waterways and bridging stock crossing points is the new normal,” said primary


industries spokeswoman Eugenie Sage. “Hard work by dairy farmers has lifted the bar in terms of what business as usual looks like on farms.” However, Ms Sage said more needed to be done to clean up lakes and rivers.



mental responsibilities seriously 97.2%

97.2 per cent of the waterways on New Zealand dairy farms are now excluded from dairy cattle.

9517 nutrient budgets have been processed for farmers in 2015/16.

Over $10M has been spent on envrionmental stewardship and farmer support programmes covering research, development and farmer extension.

More than 99.4 per cent of 44,386 regular stock crossing points on dairy farms now have bridges or culverts. “The Green Party in government will require all stock to be fenced out of waterways, not just dairy cattle, wind up government subsidies for large-scale irrigation schemes and put a moratorium on new dairy farms.” DairyNZ chief executive

Tim Mackle said around 11,400 dairy farmers had been quietly going about the business of protecting rural waterways. He said the commitment had been voluntary and they understood the importance of protecting natural resources, though 150 years

of agricultural and urban development had taken a toll. “Along with fences and bridges, farms now have cutting-edge effluent management systems which collect dairy cow manure and urine from the dairy shed, and handle it in such a way that it

can be utilised as a fertiliser to promote grass growth. “Throughout the country there are farmers who have retired sensitive and unsuitable areas of their land from dairy production, revegetating wetland areas, and some have also bequeathed land to the QE II National Trust, a covenant that celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and is close to many farmers’ hearts.” Federated Farmers Dairy Industry chairman Andrew Hoggard said the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord ‘Three Years On’ report underlines how seriously dairy farmers took their environmental responsibilities. “None of us are claiming we’re perfect, or that there is no problem with dairy’s impact on waterways. But the latest report shows the strenuous and ongoing efforts the vast majority of dairy farmers are making to lessen their environmental footprint.” The level of compliance for dairy effluent systems is at its highest ever, at a shade under

95 per cent. “Non-compliance in some regions is now below 1 per cent. When I first started in Feds only a decade and a bit ago, the non-compliance rate was pushing upwards of 20 per cent in my region. Getting below 1 per cent is an outstanding effort - and a considerable investment from farmers to modernise their systems, to make them weather-proof for all kinds of conditions, and often to make them human mistake proof.” The year three report also shows there has been a big jump in the number of farmers subscribing to nitrogen information systems to help them farm more responsibly - now 83 per cent of farmers against 56 per cent in year two of the Accord (2013-14). More than 9500 nutrient budgets were processed last year. “These results show that the vast majority of farmers are doing their bit on their farms to improve things. We still have a few who need to do more,” Hoggard says.

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Strong demand for surplus Mid and top end dairy cows were in strong demand at the Matai Trust farm’s on-farm sale in Southland last week. Sam Hodsell, representing the trust farm near Invercargill, was very happy with the result of his sale of surplus dairy cows. The full clearance sale had a top price of $2900 – which was paid for a cow that many in the buyers’ gallery considered exceptional. Hodsell, who was selling the surplus cows due to a change in farming practice, was offering about 160 Friesian and Friesian-cross 2013/14-born, in-milk cows that are scanned in-calf. They were well recorded and high indexed. The on-farm sale was managed by PGG Wrightson dairy agent Roddy Bridson. The average overall was $2150 a head, with a price range of $2900 to $1600 a head. PGG Wrightson Southern South Island dairy manager Mark Cuttance said the quality offering of in-milk cows met strong South Island

demand with the top end selling for between $2600 to $2900 a head. “The medium and top-end

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Cow number 456 waits her turn to go under the hammer at the PHOTO SUPPLIED Matai Trust’s on-farm sale.

2 30

Farming Dairy Focus


Jump on the recycling bandwagon Demand for Plasback’s onfarm recycling service is growing so fast in Canterbury that the regional collector, McCarthy Contracting Ltd, now has a truck devoted to the task fulltime. Taitapu-based McCarthy Contracting collects farm waste plastic in a region that extends from Oamaru in the south to the Conway River in the north and throughout the West Coast. Principals Grant and Robert McCarthy say that new regulations from regional councils mean Canterbury farmers should have environmental plans and those plans require them to recycle their waste. “Farmers need solutions and this is it. We make it easy for them to recycle their waste silage wrap, baling twine, feed bags and fertiliser bags,” McCarthy says. “Habits are changing. In the past farmers just burned or buried their waste. Now kids are taught about the importance of recycling in school, and we are all more aware of the need to protect

Recycling rises: Robert McCarthy (left), Chris Hartshorne (centre), and Grant McCarthy with the new truck dedicated to PHOTO SUPPLIED Plasback collection.

the environment. “As awareness has grown recycling has become mainstream. Our clients are livestock farmers from across the spectrum – wool, meat and dairy.” McCarthy says Plasback is a national organisation with a network of independent collectors, but when you call the company’s 0800 freephone number you are automatically connected to your local collector.

When they joined the scheme, McCarthy Contracting used to send a truck out once a month to collect plastic from farms. Now it goes out twice a week. “That’s why we bought a truck specifically for the task. It has a hiab crane, which makes it quick and easy for our driver to pick up the bin liners that farmers use to store their waste plastic,” Robert says. “Much of our recent

expansion has been in Mid Canterbury. We have picked up a number of clients there in recent months.” Both Plasback and McCarthy Contracting had stands at the recent South Island Field Days in Kirwee. Between them they sold 35 collection bins to new clients over the three-day event. McCarthy Contracting also processes the waste plastic it collects. It operates one of Plasback’s six purposebuilt balers. The balers are in regional centres throughout New Zealand and are used to compact the waste plastic so it can be shipped within the country and overseas for reprocessing. Plasback also collects Ecolab and AgPro’s 200-litre plastic chemical drums through its on-farm recycling scheme. Plasback national manager Chris Hartshorne says the bigger the collection scheme gets, the faster and more efficient it becomes because collection contractors can schedule more frequent pickup runs.

“We are proud of the fact that by increasing efficiencies, we have not had to raise the cost of on-farm collection at all in 10 years. We have also made it much easier for our customers to book a collection online through our website or on our free phoneline,” Chris says. Last year Plasback collected 1822 tonnes of silage wrap and other plastic, and it is on track to exceed that amount this year. Recently Plasback entered a partnership with Aucklandbased recycler Astron Plastics to turn waste silage wrap into Tuffboard, a plywood replacement product that has a variety of uses on farms. Tuffboard is available through Plasback or rural retail suppliers. For further information contact Plasback’s Chris Hartshorne on 03 338-2400 or chartshorne@agpac.co.nz or Robert McCarthy on 03 329-6655. For collection, call Plasback’s freephone – 0508338-240. Advertising feature

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Saving lives all in a day’s work Fonterra tanker operator Stephen Curtis collects Fonterra farmers’ milk anywhere from Ashburton to Kaikoura and Murchison, so he knows the roads of the region well. Recently, his usual route brought him face-to-face with a near fatal accident. “It was happening right in front of me, I saw a car being hit by a house-bus which sent it catapulting across the road.” The car had failed to give way and was T-boned – a terrifying incident that could have cost a life. Stephen immediately understood the severity of the situation and was quick to act at the scene. “There was smoke coming out of the back of the car and I couldn’t see how many people were trapped inside. “I quickly grabbed hold of my fire extinguisher and extinguished the fire, it was then that I realised the entire side of the car was smashed in and a woman was trapped inside. “There was no way I could get her out without help, it

Stephen Curtis and his tanker.

was completely damaged beyond anything I have ever seen. If nobody was there it could have gone really bad for her in a matter of seconds, time was of the essence in this situation.” Realising that someone


was trapped, Stephen quickly reached into the car, turned it off and asked Fonterra’s planning and despatch team to call emergency services. “She must have become unconscious with her foot on the accelerator because the car

was revving as fast as it could go, the wheels were spinning and the rubber had come off. “The air bags in the car were covered in blood. Seeing this woman so helpless was something I had hoped I would never witness.”

When the ambulance arrived, the woman was still unresponsive. Paramedics and rescue fire crew took over immediately. They cut the roof off first, then the door and managed to get her out. “I gave a statement to the police and moved on so they could take over. When I came back from collecting our farmer’s milk up the road the tow truck had just taken away the car, totalling three-and-ahalf hours of work clearing and tidying the scene.” Reflecting on the day, Stephen says without the fire extinguisher the woman would have had no chance of survival. “The key thing was having the fire extinguisher on hand and using it straight away rather than just sitting in the car and calling 111. The car was all damaged around the fuel tank so it could have easily exploded, there really was no time to waste.” Stephen has been a Fonterra tanker driver for five seasons.








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2 32

Farming Dairy Focus


High praise for well-managed farms Two dairy units owned by Landcorp Farming in Mid Canterbury have been singled out for praise in the recent Canterbury Ballance Farm Environment Awards. Maronan Dairy and Valetta Dairy are part of a threefarm complex established and converted by Landcorp and were awarded the agribusiness management award that is part of the competition. Maronan Dairy has an 1100 cow herd and is managed by Tomas Muller; Valetta Dairy has 960 cows and is managed by Matthew Hoets. Brendon Stent is the farm business manager. On land previously used for deer and beef finishing, milking began at the Maronan site in 2008 and through Valetta’s 60-bale automated rotary shed in 2015. Borderdyke irrigation has been replaced by centre pivot; the combined area of the two farms is 701ha, their effective area is 673ha and of that a total of 612ha is under irrigation.

Landcorp Farming staff were all smiles about their success.

The award judges said both managers took real ownership of their farms and they were well run with a strong corporate safety and sustainability culture. Muller has been in his role since July 2016 and Hoets for the past two years. Stent is business manager for these and four other

Landcorp properties. The judges commended Hoets’ family priority, reflected in staff rostering for time off and flexibility on a daily basis to allow such tasks as picking up children from the school bus. Similarly they noted Muller’s staff rostering allowed two “sleep-ins” a week for everyone.


Last season production of 363,381kgMS was achieved on Valetta and 409,016kgMS on Maronan. The farms are System 3 and in keeping with Landcorp policy adhering to the parameters of the company’s Pamu brand of farming integrity, no PKE is fed. Valetta Dairy has achieved Synlait’s Gold Plus Lead

with Pride certification and Maronan Dairy is working towards this. Both farms have plantings to enhance biodiversity. Maronan has established plantings around the sheds and Valetta has conifers, pine shelterbelts and manuka round the exterior of the pivots. The judges said manuka was a great biodiversity initiative working with the beehives on the farm”. The judges were also impressed with the use of web-based technology for the recording, monitoring and measuring of relevant management information and the clear communication about the financial side of the business with managers, with benchmarking available monthly that compares with other farms within the group. “These are well laid out conversions on the Canterbury Plains. While there is a focus on business plans and systems, the basics of cow and pasture management is still at the foremost of what these farms do,” the judges said.

Profile for Ashburton Guardian

Dairy Focus - May 2017  

Dairy Focus - May 2017