Dairy Focus JUNE 2017
FARM EFFICIENCY AT
ITS FINEST Leading the way for our GenY
PHOTO NICK HOOGEVEEN
House of Hearing 31 July 2017.
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Farming Dairy Focus
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DAIRYNZ’S CLIMATE ACTION
There’s a bit of everything in this issue. Professional drug and alcohol testers TDDA provided some data for farmers to consider recently, along with advice about specific policy designed to make sure drugs and alcohol don’t become health and safety issues that could cost thousands in the event of an accident or injury. People who are stoned or under the influence of alcohol don’t work in the same way as others, they are more likely to be involved in a crash or damage property. No farmer can afford that. But what happens to the excellent worker who fails a test? That’s also up to farmers - some may be dismissed
on the spot, others offered rehabilitation and a chance to clean up their act. For the drug naïve, there are also courses that can teach you what to look out for if you think drugs or alcohol are a workplace issue. Millennium Farming proposes a change in established thinking if dairy farmers want to attract and keep young staff to the industry. GenYs want variety and training as well as cash. DairyNZ outlined its action plan to deal with climate change at the Fieldays and says by November next year it will undertake a Greenhouse Gas onfarm recording pilot involving up to 100 Fonterra suppliers – it will include a methane report as part of environmental performance reporting. The majority of dairy farmers are doing their utmost to make sure their businesses are not harming the environment but it only takes one bad egg to take the shine off their good work. Calving is around the corner and they have a further opportunity to prove animal welfare is also a priority.
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Drug, alcohol abuse agrowing concern A Federated Farmers workshop in Ashburton looking at drug and alcohol problems on-farm attracted plenty of interest, as Linda Clarke reports.
A urine cup commonly used in the drug-testing process.
Farmers are turning to professional drug-testers to help them identify drugimpaired workers. The insurance industry says employees under the influence of drugs and alcohol cause farm accidents and push claims and premiums up by crashing vehicles, dropping things or leaving equipment behind. They can also cause a serious injury or death, and cost their bosses hundreds of thousands of dollars. The Drug Detection Agency (TDDA) runs a busy service drug and alcohol testing for business owners and Government departments. Farming is a major growth
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PHOTO LINDA CLARKE
area and the company is now providing educational courses that teach drug-naive employers what to look out for in their workplace. They even supply a handy app that has
Methamphetamine, or P, can cause pupils to constrict to pinpoints for up to 26 hours after a person uses. continued over page
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a checklist for the signs of a drug-impaired worker. Eye pupils heavily dilated? The person is most likely to be stoned or under the influence of THC (found in cannabis).
www.nrm.co.nz Dr. Rob Derrick, Nutritionist
Farming Dairy Focus
www.guardianonline.co.nz From P3 TDDA’s general manager for the Canterbury, Otago and Southland area, Therese Gibbens, says THC was the most common cause of failed tests on farms, but methamphetamine fails were on the rise because workers reasoned they were better to smoke the drug and have it out of their system in a few days rather than smoke cannabis and have it able to be detected for up to 30 days afterwards. The fail rate is about 5 per cent when workers are tested pre-employment, randomly or after an accident or incident. Workers tested for reasonable cause failed about 30 per cent of testing. Gibbens said some workers who failed a test opted to quit their jobs rather than give up their drug of choice, while others used it as an opportunity to clean up their act. TDDA conducted 140,000 drug tests last year, 90 per cent by urine testing. The company has mobile vans and testers that travel to work sites around the South Island; test subjects must provide a urine sample in the presence of the tester who is trained to
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spot those hoping to cheat the test by secreting clean urine samples on their bodies. The cheaters and liars are obvious. Gibbens said farmers needed standalone drug and alcohol policies that should also detail the consequences of a failed test, which could include dismissal or rehabilitation. The policy should also include what happened to employees caught cheating or refusing a test. She said drugs and alcohol had been identified as contributors in some workplace deaths or serious injuries and farmers needed to make sure they met new health and safety regulations that say workplace hazards must be identified and mitigated. A worker impaired by drugs or alcohol is clearly a hazard on any farm. TDDA tests urine at $77.50 a pop for THC, opiates, overthe-counter benzodiazepines, cocaine, methamphetamine and amphetamine. They can also do a separate test for synthetic cannabis and use police-like breath-testers to identify the presence of alcohol. Failed tests, referred to as non-negatives, are sent to a laboratory to confirm the findings.
Gibbens said the testing thresholds were designed to catch regular users, passive smoking should not trigger a fail. Statistics for Canterbury last year showed 80.1 per cent of failed tests were for cannabis, 16 per cent for opiates, 11.2 per cent for amphetamine, 7.6 per cent for methamphetamine and 2.3 per cent for benzodiazepines. Testing farm houses for the manufacture or use of methamphetamine, also referred to as P, is also on
the rise, with swab tests able to indicate the toxicity of individual rooms. A telltale sign of manufacturing was the smell that accompanied the cooking process, which involves a cocktail of chemicals including drain clearer; a black tar-like substance that was a residue of the process was often found tipped out on gardens or into sealed containers for disposal. Gibbens said farmers could prevent drug or alcohol
impaired workers causing problems by testing and learning more themselves about the signs and behaviour of people using drugs. FMG rural manager Nick Macklin said drugs on farms caused accidents and were a health and safety issue that could cause a lot of headaches for farmers if was an incident. “It makes sense to try and manage it as best you can. We know that drugs and alcohol are an issue here in Ashburton and there are things we can do
to avoid them. We can provide advice and what can work on farms. We try to stop issues from happening at the get-go.” He said by instigating standalone drug and alcohol policies farmers protect their assets, reduce claims and premiums. “Often people have no idea drugs and alcohol are an issue on their farm. Dealing with that can significantly reduce claims.” Farmers as landlords of farm houses and cottages should also check references of prospective tenants using the www.tenancy.govt.nz website and make regular inspections. Electronic devices that detected drug odours could also be fitted to ceilings and information relayed to landlords. Farmers are clearly worried about the effect of drugs and alcohol on their operations with more than 40 people attending a workshop run by Federated Farmers in Ashburton recently. Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury president Mike Salvesen said it was a highly complex issue and farmers needed to make sure they protected themselves.
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Farming Dairy Focus
The insidious side of twitter Craig Hickman
ELBOW DEEP @dairymanNZ
I enjoy being on Twitter, by and large it’s a fun place to share my experiences and learn from other farmers. I get to answer questions from people who want to learn, I get to hear other people’s perspectives and I’m often challenged by opposing viewpoints. The disagreements are honest and open; sometimes I can find no common ground with the person I’m talking to, but that’s okay, we each know where the other stands and we go our separate ways. There’s a more insidious side though, the troll who tries to undermine your position by claiming to be something they’re not. The first instance I came across was a person
claiming to be a dairy farmer with the delightful handle of @TownieHater. The persona they created was as thoroughly unpleasant as the name suggests, and that was the point; they wanted to portray dairy farmers as boorish, arrogant, self-centred narcissists who believed they could do no wrong.
Ironically many would say those are exactly the traits the creator of the account exhibits herself. It had some small success, mainly amongst people who wanted to believe that sort of thing, but by and large it was soon seen for what it was and, when it became apparent people were ignoring the
account, the creator claimed it was satire all along. A more recent example is @pureNZdairy, an account purporting to be from a dairy industry PR person. They went out of their way to bait anyone who wasn’t a dairy farmer and the account really took off with this gem: “Get real – who actually swims in
rivers anyway?? That’s just romantic idealism from the Greenies. People swim in chlorinated swimming pools”. Farmers were horrified and blocked the account, urban users of Twitter were horrified and took the tweets at face value. No matter how often I pointed out the account had to be a very bad parody, people were more than willing to believe a dairy industry representative was saying those things. Who was the genius behind @pureNZdairy? Who would want to portray dairying advocates as offensive trolls while in fact being offensive trolls themselves? GreenpeaceNZ of course! Fortunately their supporters don’t like being taken for fools, so a campaign that was largely ignored by farmers, while annoying potential allies, probably wasn’t the smartest move. Since they’ve owned up and put the obligatory “parody” line in the account’s bio I’ve seen nothing but scorn for the attempt and dismay from
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people who have donated to them in the past. Greenpeace of course are claiming it as a brilliant success, cutting satire that was easily discerned by all but rural folk. The important thing here though isn’t the attempts to subvert rather than have an honest discussion, it’s the fact that people are so willing to believe the worst of us and how difficult that impression is to shake. You’ll have seen the furore around advertisements in the Timaru Herald; situations vacant looking for workers with three years’ experience on minimum wage and live in a rodent-infested Portacom. My Twitter feed blew up with indignation over poor working conditions, substandard housing and arrogant farmers. What’s the truth behind those ads? The most likely answer is the farmer in question had happy staff who wanted to stay but needed to renew their work permits. Renewal of those permits requires you to try and recruit
local staff, so the ads were designed to discourage applicants while fulfilling immigration formalities. Of course that’s not how the public sees it, and the headline from the very paper the ad was placed in screams Canterbury dairy farm reveals grim details of working conditions! Of course the ads weren’t proof of poor working conditions, they were a sign of frustration at what people need to go through to retain good staff. The ads were ill conceived and blew up far beyond what was intended, but we can’t rely on people to look beyond face value and see that. We can’t even rely on the media to dig deeper and report that, so we’ve got to be very careful what we put out there. Greenpeace don’t need to launch co-ordinated stealth campaigns when we so often inadvertently shoot ourselves in the foot.
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Farming Dairy Focus
Millenials - change for good What is the inspiration behind the group?
MILLENNIUM FARMING CREATOR
Stu Taylor’s Kellogg Rural Leadership project “The dream that made us” is the concept behind Millennium Farming.
What is Millennium Farming? Who started it? Millennium Farming is a whole group of people who see the need for change to make dairy farming a lifestyle choice. I noticed the way I was running farms was no longer successful, made changes and want to share the solutions that have worked. People leadership needs to be a priority within the dairy industry.
To drive a culture shift trying to make farming fit the modern world, economically and socially. To make room for the next generation to innovate, be involved and provide solutions to the changing world.
What sort of feedback have you had since starting the group? We have received messages of positive change. Young blokes and women speaking about their goals and how they’ve had to change them as they’ve progressed. They’ve usually been told it’s a lot harder nowadays to get into farming. I’ve had people expressing how they’ve battled depression and opened up about how the lifestyle changes have helped them get through. We’ve also had feedback from farmers taking on in-laws’ or parents’ farms and trying to come up
with sustainable and efficient solutions together.
What is your farming background? I grew up on a Whangarei dairy farm milking 100 cows and am a fifth generation dairy farmer. I now run a farming operation in the lower North Island.
What are the biggest challenges for dairy farmers? Having high-powered people accept that the world has changed from that of their parents and adjusting their views of millennials to promote a change in mindset and culture. We need to shift from a “we’ve always done it this way” attitude to one which promotes a healthy working environment and personal lifestyle.
What does it need the most? I’m a dairy farmer, I know everything has changed and
From left - Mark, Stu and James.
I’ve found some solutions that have had positive feedback and that we find effective. I’ve provided techniques for our people around the need for change to ensure the sustainable future of our industry. We move our team around to increase skill levels, so every four to six weeks responsibilities are shifted. They might be doing pasture for a month, then tractors and maintenance the next month. We’ve found it helps team dynamics because they understand each other’s roles.
It provides training and when someone is away it means there is immediate cover. The team enjoys it because they get to try something different and find out where their passion lies. It allows people to be innovative. We’ve found millennials in particular want to try different things and need flexibility. Given the opportunity, they’ll come up with a better way of doing things that we can all use. It motivates them and it’s important for people to come through and learn for themselves.
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GenYs want to work
Where do you see the industry in 20 years? Forward thinking and proud of cutting-edge technology and innovation. Providing a high quality food product with goals to be environmentally sustainable. Farmers need to take care of themselves, maintaining health and wellbeing, while reinforcing animal health and respect towards stock. We will become an industry of choice for the next generation.
Amy Charman is a young woman working her way into the dairy industry. One day she would like to manage a farm but right now she measures success in cash, training and support from her farming family at Kintore Farm in Mid Canterbury. She is learning on the job and loving it. Charman, 18, belongs to Generation Y, a body of young people born from 2000 on, which Millennium Farming says must be attracted to the industry for the same reason other young people choose jobs – money, regular working hours, support and training. It is a culture shift for many dairy farmers, who know a lot about milking cows and growing grass, but less about managing people. Charman started working on Kintore Farm last December after leaving Rangiora High School. She had wanted to be a veterinarian since the age of five, but was persuaded to give the dairy industry a go after a period of relief milking. She has already spotted the
opportunities on farm and how technology is making life easier. She is not made to feel uncomfortable when she makes a mistake and when she needs time off for important events, it is always taken into consideration with a positive outcome. She sees not a ladder but a web of job opportunities, not necessarily ending in farm ownership. “We need more farmers willing to do that. It keeps us younger people thinking about things and wanting to keep on in the industry.” Charman says dairy farming was not promoted at her high school as a career. The industry has a reputation for attracting those already passionate about dairy farming or those desperate for a job. She has found dairying is not just about milking cows and feeding them. “So many times I have to tell people that. There is a bigger picture that people don’t get, you have to understand soil nutrients and animal health.
Amy Charman a passionate millennial.
There are so many areas that are part of it.” GenYs want to work alongside experienced dairy farmers and learn, but they didn’t want to be slaves to entrenched practices and long hours that make the lifestyle hard on family life or friendships. Charman said she often
PHOTO NICK HOOGEVEEN
hears from her peers on other farms that employers complain about staff coming and going, but GenYs needed opportunities to grow and learn, or just simply a better lifestyle to make them stay. As farmers we need to wake up, it’s not just about us, it’s about all people in the farming family.
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Farming Dairy Focus
Find your team’s key drivers How do you drive innovation within your team? Millennium Farming has a belief that innovation starts and ends with great people and requires great leadership to make this cultural shift that we aim for within our industry. It’s amazing how many farms do not find out what drives people, for me it is about first and foremost being a team member and included in what the farm overall targets are. It’s about socialising with like-minded people and sharing our achievements and lessons we’ve learned from what works and what doesn’t work, no one ever farms the same and no way is the right or the wrong way. It’s about what suits different cost structures and farm systems. With the new season, in sight, do you want to drive your team or do you need some spare hands to help make your day easier? DairyNZ helps your team climb that ladder thrown free community events that are locally organised.
MILLENNIUM FARMING MEMBER
I believe we are all chasing sustainability and long term goals for an effective lifestyle. Thankfully in New Zealand there is a career path within the dairy industry. However, structures have changed from the family farm to the more corporatised farm which makes it seemingly more challenging to progress but with the right support and determination it’s still achievable. Personally, I’m very ambitious within the industry so I’ve found there are a lot of people who have a wealth of knowledge and it really broadens your views. DairyNZ work with councils, farmers and authorities to help ensure
sound policy development when tackling environmental issues head on. Three years of a low payout created a lot of discussion for the industry on trying to find the silver lining. During the low payout, topics were interesting, getting that wider view from neighbouring farms all wearing the same gloomy hat. It may not have been relevant to me at the time, but it’s given me a realistic view of how we can work our way around these dairy hurdles. It’s also a great way of discussing environmental changes and keeping up to date with all those rules and regulations. There’s all sorts of eyeopening discussions and the people aspect of it all is great. You actually can regain your social sanity again thanks to the like-minded farmers in your area. You will all experience similar struggles at the same time during unpredictable seasons, resparking your feed management strategies.
Dairy is always somewhat challenging and for us as younger staff trying to progress we thrive on these struggles and take note for what may cross our paths in years to come. I believe DairyNZ’s
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Farmer’s focus on nitrogen loss a winner The dairy industry’s action plan for climate change is being aided by the work of Canterbury dairy farmer Tony Coltman, who has been focusing on nitrogen loss. The plan is spearheaded by DairyNZ, in partnership with Fonterra, and was revealed at the national fieldays earlier this month. DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle said modern, science-based farming was the way to achieve a future for New Zealand where dairy farming had a lower environmental footprint. Coltman has been focusing on farm efficiency and using fine-tuned environmental management to do it. His 1400-cow, 335ha (effective) farm uses technologies designed to improve its sustainability and will ultimately also reduce the farm’s carbon footprint. Coltman is a monitor farmer for the DairyNZ-led Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching programme, which aims to reduce nitrate leaching losses by 20 per cent by delivering proven, adaptable, and profit-
Tony Coltman and Dana Carver have been focusing on nitrogen loss.
able pasture and forage crop options for dairy, arable and mixed livestock farms. “We joined the project to
understand the environmental footprint of our business better and to contribute to the industry’s understanding of
whole environment issues at a practical farming level, with real numbers,” he says. The farm has a range of
environmental initiatives in place, particularly focused on reducing nitrate leaching. “Ultimately the environment drives efficiency, which is what our business is about. “There are both financial and environmental benefits. We want to look after our environment.” To reduce nitrate leaching, the farm has reduced nitrogen use from 290kg N/ha to 240kg N/ha, has changed supplementary feed from high protein to low protein/high starch to reduce urinary nitrogen levels and introduced diverse pastures (plantain). Fodder beet is also fed to milking cows. Other initiatives include increasing the farm area receiving dairy effluent, utilising a feed pad, variable rate irrigation, soil moisture monitoring and computer modelling to look at improvement opportunities. Coltman’s efforts to optimise the farm’s environmental management will contribute to a lower carbon footprint by the industry. “We all play a part in this and we all need to contribute. We need to understand it better.”
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Farming Dairy Focus
A healthy soil is key to healthy crops High performance agriculture is defined as allowing plants to express in full, their inherent genetic potential by providing nutrition and the environment they need in a sustainable way. To achieve high performance a soil should be composed of 45 per cent minerals, 5 per cent humus, 25 per cent water and 25 per cent air. This is achieved by a balanced mineral application determined by a soil audit for each particular soil. It’s the chemical make-up of that soil which determines the physical structure, the correct physical structure provides an environment for the biology. It’s the biology that provides the foundation for soil health by having adequate mineral nutrition, in a form readily available to plants, supplied by an active soil microbial community. The key to plant production and the concept to grasp is when we provide a plant with greater levels of nutrition, the performance of these plants is greatly increased. It all starts with photosynthesis, absorbing
water from the soil, CO2 from the air and through a catabolic process with sunlight energy forms carbohydrates (sugars) inside the leaves of green plants. The Australian soil ecologist Dr Christine Jones termed this the liquid carbon pathway, (liquid carbon is basically dissolved sugars. Sugars are formed in plant chloroplasts during photosynthesis. Some of the sugars are used for growth and some are exuded into soil by plant roots to support the microbes involved in nutrient acquisition). This microbial support is also required to improve soil structure, increase macro and micronutrient availabilities and enhance soil waterholding capacity. Anything we can do to increase the plants’ photosynthesis capacity will increase the plants’ energy. Photosynthetic capacity is derived relative to (A) balanced mineral nutrition and (B) the micro-biology content, in the soil. Nitrogen fixation depends on energy efficiency.
It takes a lot of energy and requires a lot of sugars from photosynthesis and minerals, which means tuning the entire system by improving first sulphur, boron, silicon then calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, as well as enzymatic co-factors – zinc, manganese, copper, iron, molybdenum and cobalt. Many of these elements are essential for resistance to pest and diseases and the resilience to climatic extremes such as drought or frosts. A lot of chemicals and fertilisers are counterproductive to producing humus. The application of large quantities of inorganic N, as found in urea, MAP and DAP, can compromise the effective system of producing N in the soil. In addition, large quantities of water-soluble P, such as that found in superphosphate, MAP and DAP, compromises the symbiotic relationship with mycorrhizal fungi, which are essential for maximising the ability of plants to obtain water nitrogen and minerals
from the soil. We must comprehend two important facts, (A) that the activity of the microbial life in the soil along with the process of photosynthesis in plants is solely responsible for directly or indirectly supplying the world food supply (B) that many of the traditional farming practises (that formerly were called best managements practices) are
detrimental to that biology. Tillage, glyphosate, chemicals, synthetic fertilisers, seed treatments, mono pasture species, are all contributing too most of the issues and problems that’s facing agriculture environmental and sustainability today. The greatest road block in solving a problem is the human mind. Many conventional farmers are
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making really significant strides in sustainability, but many farmers are persisting with a farming system that’s failing them. A system approach to problem solving in agriculture. I have mentioned a lot about changing farming systems, what do I mean? We have to shift from a farming system focusing on
only production and yield to a farming system focusing on quality, protein and stewardship, benefitting the environment and sustainability by apply systems thinking to what you are doing. Our food systems are complex, how I farm and what I produce doesn’t just affect us personally but effects our environment and human health, political stability and
a problem and its cause. Asking why, instead of how, makes us really think about what we are doing, and it’s that thinking that can lead to long-term sustainable solutions with minimal unintended consequences. Animal health issues and deficiencies therefore are a reflection on the mineral content of the soil. And if minerals are needed to be added to supplemental feed to keep animals alive and to support and maintain production, then it’s a direct indication of mineral or microbial deficiencies in the soil.
ultimately the stabilisation of our planet is important. The quality of food that we are producing is having a dramatic effect on the health of the nation and its repercussion on the economy from both medical and economic measure are reaching epidemic proportions, and will continue unless we change. Taking a system approach for problem solving is a valuable tool of how to make our farming more resilient and profitable. System thinking makes us think about what we are doing, which is not always pleasant. Most of us have been raised as linear thinkers, we have been taught to see a direct absolute relationship between cause and effect. An example of linear thinking, for lack of grass, is applying more urea, or spraying a weed or pest rather than understanding and changing the environment which created the problem in the first place. A system thinking approach takes the relationship between
is that environment which determines genetic expression (Epigenetics). What we are demonstrating is that there are soil fertility systems, able to reduce the artificial nitrogen application on traditional dairy farms by up to 200 per cent without compromising yield and profitability. On one farm trial over several years we have produced more kgs of milk solids and kgs of DM per ha with half the nitrogen application, and a greater gross margin than a conventional fertiliser system. On cropping farms, produce record yields, decrease the amount of chemicals, pesticides, weeds and diseases. All this with added benefit of being profitable, truly sustainable and meeting environmental goals within the 20 kgs /N leaching limit. So, let the results speak for themselves. In the end, it’s common sense with good science. D L Hart, Top Soils, Biological Farming and Soil Fertility Consultant.
Future: On being a plant
“For me, it is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” - Carl Sagan Until we change the human mind we are not going to change anything. Healthy soil produces healthy plants but the reverse is also true, healthy plants build healthy soils and it
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Farming Dairy Focus
Trans-Tasman battle of the farmers For the first time in the 49year history of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year, a Trans-Tasman Olympic Ag battle will take place between New Zealand and Australia. Current champion and dairy farmer, Athol New, will take on Australian winner Marty McConnon in what is promising to be the most anticipated agricultural event of the year at the Grand Final of the FMG Young Farmer of the Year on July 7 at Feilding. The fierce rivalry of both nations will see New and McConnon stretched to the limits of endurance as they race off beside each other in a number of physical challenges. Fresh off winning the 2016 FMG Young Farmer of the Year, Athol is an emerging talented leader in the food sector and has recently been sharing his journey from small -town Northland to a manager of five dairy farms. He will go into the transTasman battle as the hot favourite after his outstanding performance in all areas of
last year’s contest where he finished high up the ladders in all aspects of the contest including the agri-sports. His cool head under pressure will mean McConnon will have a difficult time on his hands when he attempts to take the Trans-Tasman Olympic Ag trophy back over the ditch.The 27-year-old has a wide variety of skills and works for leading Tasmanian harvest contractor C and J Spencer Agriculture in combine operations. His role in the company managing day-to-day running of combine operations sees him managing staff, maintaining machinery and handling field and workshop maintenance. Like many grand final winners, McConnon took the Tasmanian Rural Youth title home last year after many years of dedication and perseverance and is looking forward to utilising his experience in New Zealand to learn from NZ Young Farmers. FMG Young Farmer of
Athol New will put Kiwi pride on the line in a Trans-Tasman challenge.
the Year Contest chairman Dean Rabbidge said the shared history between the two nations means the TransTasman Olympic Ag battle will be fiercely fought over. “It’s the pride of New Zealand and Australia at stake and just like with any sporting
rivalry between both nations, both will be desperate to take the inaugural trophy home. “This will be a must-see event and we are expecting large crowds to view the battle.” NZ Young Farmers CEO Terry Copeland welcomed the
new event and said it would further celebrate excellence in agriculture. “We are delighted to be able to showcase the skills of our Young Farmers in such a way and look forward to seeing the pair battle it out for the pride of their country.”
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Both supplements are designed to be fed in conjunction with a quality calf milk. Moore said she committed to trialling the feed initially but kept placing more orders when she and Broomhall saw the calves were thriving. She said the fresh mix, which includes rolled grains, canola meal, soya meal, soya hull and DDGS as well as molasses, bovatec and other vitamins and minerals, ticked all the boxes and the calves quickly adapted to the solids after milk. Enerpro Feeds is owned by Christchurch couple Nikki and Noel Dew, who have been specialising in blended feed for dairy cows for four years. They added the calf meal to their range last year and were blown away by its popularity, selling three times more than they had initially anticipated. Nikki Dew said the calf meal was highly palat-
able and excellent value for money. The meal did not deteriorate in the wet, unlike pellets, and there was no waste. She said the blend was designed to help calves put on healthy weight and enable their bodies to grow in the same way young athletes needed a well-balanced diet. Its success was in the recipe and the fact it was freshly-made. The higher protein Enerpro20 costs $675 per M.T, plus GST, and the Enerpro16 $645 per M.T, plus GST, and is available throughout the South Island, ex Ashburton (Rural Transport). To see a sample, or for any other blended feed or palm kernel requirements, please don’t hesitate to call Nikki or Noel at Enerpro Feeds. Advertising feature
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Farming Dairy Focus
Helping to kick lameness headache When he managed a large herd in Canterbury Mike Luke came to dread wet weather in autumn and the headache it would inevitably bring. Accompanying welcome autumn rains would be an outbreak of lameness through the 950 head herd that could strike as many as 200 cows over a period. “I would find that if I did not get stuck in and deal with it quickly things would snowball over the wet period, and before you knew it you would have more cows than you could manage struck with it.” In sheer frustration he spent a full day researching the disease, its causes and possible solutions. “From there I got in touch with Peter Anderson in Marlborough who created Vet LSD.” Discussing the herd’s diet with Peter, they determined the cows were probably only getting half the vitamins needed, given their diet comprised 50 per cent pasture and 50 per cent supplements including barley and grass silage.
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“And when the sun was gone thanks to rain, that was likely to have a link to vitamin production too.” Vitamin D is one vitamin requiring the presence of sunshine to be produced in grass. With a formulation that includes vitamin A, D, E, selenium, chromium and iodine, Vet LSD has a proven track record in improving ewe health and lamb survivability. Backed by his boss, Mike decided to try a course of treatment with Vet LSD on the dairy herd. “I treated the herd through the water troughs over April, May, June and July the following season. When the herd returned from winter grazing they were incredibly quiet and settled, it was hard to believe they were the same herd.” Over calving Mike found his instances of down cows were fewer, and the occasional down cow when treated with a dose of Vet LSD would get up, in one case after being down for four days. He also noticed significantly fewer cows
Ex-Canterbury dairy manager, turned Northland sharemilker Mike Luke is more than happy with PHOTOSUPPLIED the results of Vet LSD.
affected with sore feet. 2015 the Northland herd had rather than incurring the soul “We used to get white line also experienced lameness. destroying expenses and time disease in spring too, and Dosing the troughs with it in dealing with lameness. spring lameness after the Vet last autumn resulted in much “I used to dread having LSD dosing was negligible.” fewer lameness problems. to deal with the lameness Now Mike has moved to “I have been dairying for problem, but since using Vet Northland to share-milk a almost 40 years, and to me LSD, it’s far more manageable, 350 head herd, and he has this product is as big as when the cows are quieter and less continued to administer Vet Gladys Reid discovered the stressed. I think on farms LSD. benefits of zinc for facial ® where supplement is used a Mikeeczema Luke on Vet LSD “I have noticed the prevention.” lot cows are not getting the Mike Luke on Vetforward LSD®to350 temperament change here He is looking an cows) vitamins they need, Vet LSD (Mangapai – Northland, too.” animal health bill that includes (Mangapai – Northland, 350 cows) really does have a role to play.” When Mike arrived in• June Vetmade LSD Vet as a LSD preventative, Advertising feature Mike has his drench of choice to • Mikeboost has made Vet LSD his drench of spring choice period. to his herd’s health over the GET THE FACTS: VET LSD® contains ® boost hisMike herd’s health over the spring period. on Vet LSDthe ® • Vet LSD hasLuke helped Mike lower GET THE FACTS: VET LSDessential containsfor minerals and vitamins (Mangapai – Northland, • Vet LSD has helped Mike lower lameness incidence in his the350 cows) minerals andperformance vitamins essential for dairy cow – including lameness incidence in his herd significantly. • Mike has made Vet LSD his drench of choice to dairy cow performance – including Vitamins A, D and E, Selenium, herd significantly. boost his herd’s health over the spring period. Vitamins A, D Chromium. and E, Selenium, Iodine and GET THE FACTS: VET LSD® contains • Vet LSD has resulted in fewer • Vet LSD has resulted in fewer • Vet LSD has helped Mikeand lower the Iodine and Chromium. down cow incidences, minerals and vitamins essential for ® lameness incidence in his down cow incidences, and delivers a high VET LSD dairy cow performance – including fewer calving problems. VET LSD® delivers a high herd significantly. fewer calving problems. quality boost to dairy Vitamins A, D and E, Selenium, quality boost to dairy “To me this product isfewer as • Vet LSD has resulted in Iodine and Chromium. cows’ immune system at “To medown this product is as and cow incidences, cows’ immune system ®at big as when Gladys Reid critical timesVET of LSD the year. delivers a high big asfewer when Gladys Reid calving problems. critical times ofquality the year. discovered the benefits of boost to dairy discovered the benefits of “To me this product is as zinc for facial eczema cows’ immune system at zinc forbig facial eczema as when Gladys Reid prevention.” critical times of the year. prevention.” discovered the benefits of zinc for facial eczema prevention.”
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Farming Dairy Focus
Cows need to rest too! Fred Hoekstra
VEEHOF DAIRY SERVICES
We are now in the dry period. Another season has gone by and it is time to refresh and take life a little easier. Some of you may even go away on a holiday. Cows are gone for the winter or, if we have them on the run-off, we only must feed them and leave them to it till tomorrow when we must feed them again. We don’t have to get up so early in the morning for milking and apart from the air temperatures life is good. We all need breaks and time away to refresh. It is the same for a cow. They need a dry period. They need a time of rest. They need to be able to lay down in a dry comfortable place, out of the rain and the wind. I have said in previous articles that cows
are lacking resting time under normal circumstances during the milking season. Even on the best farms, cows are being deprived of resting time because there simply isn’t enough time in a day for a cow. I know it sounds silly but our dairy cows are over-worked during the milking season. That means that the rest during the dry period is even more important. However, when I drive through the countryside during winter I see many cows on winter crops - the management of which is critical for the cows’ wellbeing considering the cows that have died because of mismanagement with fodder beet. But, apart from the potential nutrition problems there is also a problem due to the lack of proper resting facilities. You may think that this just doesn’t make sense because the cows don’t do anything other than eating and resting, but look at cow behaviour in the paddock. We all know that a well-
Much more research needs to be done in this area to get a better understanding of the true cost
fed cow’s normal behaviour during the day is grazing, drinking, laying down and resting. Cows don’t normally spend a lot of time standing. If they do there is a problem. The cow may be sick or it is raining or it is too hot and the cow is under heat stress. Now, when we look at cows on winter crops we see them spending a lot of time standing. This is not necessarily because they are sick or because it is raining. It is because there is
nowhere for them to lay down and be comfortable especially when it gets muddy. Even in those muddy conditions, cows will lay down but only if they just can’t stand any longer. Why is this important? Because tired cows don’t perform. Tired cows are under severe stress. Tired, stressed cows are much more susceptible to lameness. Sometimes the difference in numbers of lame cows from one season to the next is due to the wintering conditions.
I know that cost needs to be kept to a minimum to run a profitable farming operation but if you want to calculate the true cost of the different farming systems you need to include the lameness cost during the upcoming milking season as well as the empty rate and mastitis cost. Much more research needs to be done in this area to get a better understanding of the true cost. It is quite likely that the cheapest system may be the costliest.
Strong demand for Clarence bulls Bulls from the Matariki Hereford and Woodbank Angus studs were in hot demand last week, with buyers flown in by helicopter to the Clarence Valley, where access is still restricted following last November’s 7.8 earthquakes. John and Robyn Murray run Woodbank while John’s cousin James and his wife Becky run Matariki. Woodbank, the original farm, has been in the Murray family since 1900. The two studs run an onfarm bull sale together and this year’s was their 48th joint sale. It is the biggest combined Angus and Hereford sale in New Zealand with 102 bulls offered, and sold. The top price for Matariki was $15,000 while Woodbank’s top price was $15,500. John Murray said it was good to see buyers returning, despite the road south being closed, and to be able to offer quality bulls, especially after a difficult two-year drought. “Now we are focusing on our yearling bulls who are progressing well for our spring sale in early October.”
Above - Jimmy and Johnny Murray look across the Clarence Valley. Left - Lucy, Sam and Jack Murray of Matariki prepare a bull for sale. PHOTOS SUPPLIED
About 30 bulls will be offered then and the Murrays will again be organising helicopter rides in for buyers. Bull buyer Rex Evans, who runs Mt Peel near Gore, has been buying bulls from Matariki for the past nine years. “Buying a bull is a major
thing for our operation as we are a breeding and finishing unit, so if we get it wrong it is an expensive mistake. “We buy some of our bulls from Matariki because they are good bulls. James Murray is passionate about his cattle and that shows through in the high quality bulls that are
presented year after year.” He said the two bulls he bought would have a long trip home, via Blenheim. PGG Wrightson auctioneer John McKone said both studs presented consistent, top quality bulls this year, despite the challenges presented by
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the earthquake. He said it had been a busy time for the company’s sales team, with 600 bulls sold in a busy week of sales last week. “Beef prices are at historical highs, Canterbury has finally got grass and the mood is buoyant.”
Farming Dairy Focus
EFFICIENT SYSTEMS FEATURE
Minimising stress leading to calving As dairy cows transition from dry to milking animals, they undergo physiological changes that leave them susceptible to many health conditions. It’s vital that cows are properly managed during this time because diseases can have far-reaching effects on their reproductive performance, production, and survival in the herd. Katie Denholm from Anexa FVC Gordonton says it’s so important to give your cows extra care in the months before and after calving and to watch for things like higher levels of cows needing handson assistance to calve and more lame cows and cases of mastitis after calving. During calving, a cow’s immune function is compromised, its teat canals open and unfavourable ground conditions are common. These risk factors can lead to an increase in mastitis rates. Many of the clinical mastitis cases seen in the first two weeks after calving, when the cow comes into milk, are actually contracted in the late dry period.
Another physiological change at calving is that the cow’s pelvic tendons and ligaments will relax so it can calve easily. This affects all the tendons and ligaments in the cow’s body and can lead to a less stable foot that’s more prone to damage. Despite the challenges a cow faces around calving, there are strategies you can employ to protect her. Although it was recommended for years,
springer cows should not be over-fed. We can determine how much they should eat by estimating their liveweight at calving: 450kg cows should consume 90 megajoules of metabolisable energy per day (MJ ME/day), 500kg cows 100MJ ME/day, and 550kg cows 110MJ ME/ day. Remember to allow for wastage. A cow immediately pre-calving is ‘full of calf ’ and it takes her longer to consume what she is offered.
It is best to run these animals separately if possible. Check your cows at least twice a day around calving and intervene early if you see any calving issues. Magnesium for springers is important to prevent milk fever at calving and for lactating cows to prevent grass staggers after calving. Aim to supplement cows and heifers for two to four weeks before calving and for up to four months post-calving.
Colostrum cows should be offered calcium, usually in the form of limeflour at 150g/ cow/day (may need to be doubled if dusting). Springers should not be offered calcium. Supplement cows with minerals such as selenium, copper and iodine as these are critical for general immune function around calving and reproduction. As cows have ‘fragile’ feet at this time, be patient with them to prevent lameness. It’s crucial that you don’t rush stock on the races and that you never see ‘heads up’ in the yard. Practise good hygiene during milking, as this will help prevent infection from entering cows’ glands. Wear gloves when you’re milking cows, pay attention to muddy areas in the raceways, and avoid putting calving cows in soggy paddocks. To control rates of clinical mastitis in early lactation, use an approved teat spray that keep teats soft and disinfected. Ensure cows have access to clean drinking water at all times.
INNOVATIVE APPROACH FARM GUARD’S UNIQUE DOSING SYSTEM ENSURES THAT EXACTLY THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF PRODUCT IS DISPENSED EVERY TIME. YOU ONLY USE WHAT YOU NEED REDUCING COST, RISK AND CREATING A SAFER WORK ENVIRONMENT. Ixom are working with Plucks Engineering on a simple system to greatly improve the waste treatment performance of current dairy shed installations.
This system is based on an add-on to existing systems that easily removes >50% of the nitrogen load and >95% of the solids load to the irrigated areas.
A full-flow pilot scheme ran very successfully and results proved to be very good and repeatable.
Reduced nitrogen will assist compliance and reduced solids greatly reduces irrigation equipment maintenance caused by
FARM GUARD PRODUCT RANGE
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blockages. The treated water is of excellent quality and suitable for reuse for yard washing. Progress is now being made to run a full scale farm trial to obtain further data and prove the ease of the operation. Watch this space!
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EFFICIENT SYSTEMS FEATURE
Making your well an asset to your farm After many years working in Australia, contracting to mining giants like Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, the Barber Well Drilling team have quickly become leaders in dual-rotary drilling in the South Island, answering the call for straight wells that provide a long well life. Established in 2001 and based in Geraldine. Bruce and Wayne lead an exceptional drilling team who, with a wealth of drilling experience, bring an abundance of skills and expertise to South Island farmers. Demand for well maintenance and old well redevelopment is increasing as regulatory costs increase to control demand. Barber Drilling can video and test existing wells, and find ways to help farmers bring old wells back into use again. These services include: down hole video, well monitoring and flow testing equipment for ECan consents, well redevelopment, advice and problem solving. Barber Well Drilling pride
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test developing pumping and confirmation of water volume being accessed. “Our method of testing is to the highest
to maintain reliability and productivity,” says Wayne. “It’s our ability to provide advice and be involved in
Our method of testing is to the highest standard to ensure customer satisfaction, and we specialise in test pumping and well performance in older bores to maintain reliability and productivity
Barber Well Drilling operates three rigs for drilling and screening bores and another rig specialises in
standard to ensure customer satisfaction, and we specialise in test pumping and well performance in older bores
problem solving onsite with our clients that sees us currently booked three months in advance.”
“Our dual-rotary drilling rig is designed to prevent sticking or breaking in your well. We can drill to a depth of 300m with well diameters from 150mm to 400mm.” says managing director Wayne O’Donnell. Barber Drilling uses only thick-wall steel which doesn’t buckle, so your well stays straighter, giving you a better quality long-life well. While much of their work involves 300 mm bores and big pumps that drive huge pivot irrigators they also do a lot of 150 mm bores for stock, domestic lifestyle blocks, and dairy sheds. Barber Well Drilling has also been involved in the drilling of monitoring wells for ECan during the past 12 years. When you use Barber Drilling to drill your water well, you can be reassured that you have chosen Canterbury’s most experienced, well trained team of professional drillers, whose knowledge of local conditions will ensure that your new water well is an asset to your farm. Advertising feature
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Farming Dairy Focus
EFFICIENT SYSTEMS FEATURE
Healthy soils critical to farm operation About 200 farmers are expected to attend the third World Wide Agriculture (WWAG) conference at Lincoln University next month. Organiser Bruce Hore says WWAG is about farming with a greater awareness of the whole-farm system – livestock, soils, pasture, crops, water – and how each element impacts on the others. “Each year, we are seeing more top-end, mainstream farmers attending – people who recognise that simply throwing ‘more’ at agriculture is not the way forward. Instead, they look at how to use their existing inputs and tools more strategically. The days of a ‘blanket’ approach across the whole farm are gone.” The conference runs July 5-6 and has attracted registrations from Australia, USA and Nigeria, as well as New Zealand. On July 7, the popular WWAG farm tour will take farmers around the Webster family’s Mid Canterbury properties –
Herstall Ulrich (left) began using the Kinsey-Albrecht soil management programme back in the 1980s and is speaking at next month’s World Wide Agriculture Conference. He is pictured with son PHOTO SUPPLIED Alex, who also believes healthy soils are critical for the whole farm system.
Rhodes Hills and Belmont farms – which incorporate dairy, mixed cropping and fattening operations.
This year’s presenters include Stephanie Howard from the Sustainability Council of New Zealand
discussing market issues around genetic modification (GM) agriculture; US consultant Neal Kinsey
WWAG is about farming with a greater awareness of the wholefarm system
talking about nutrient-dense crops and foods and the role of sulphur; Canadian farmer Peter Eggers discussing why his yields exceed both GM and conventional crops; Dutch consultant Joan Timmermans talking about sap testing – how and why; and Tim Reinbott from the University of Missouri outlining his work with the Albrecht programme and its effects on soil health. The farmer speakers include South Canterbury sheep and dairy farmer Herstall Ulrich, Fairlie dairy farmer Nathan Lamborn and Australian cropping, sheep and beef farmer Rob Sutherland. Advertising feature
WORLD WIDE AGRICULTURE CONFERENCE DICK TAYLER - Guest Speaker STEPHANIE HOWARD - NEW ZEALAND Will disucss market issues around genetic modification
AGRICULTURE Lincoln University Lincoln, July 5 - 7 Registrations close before 29 June
NEAL KINSEY - USA Discussing how to achieve nutrient dense crops and the role of sulphur PETER EGGERS - CANADA How and why his yields are better than both GMO and conventional crops DR DALE BLEVINS - USA Discussing the role of nutrients in the plant and how they protect it from specific diseases
DR DON HUBER Will talk on the role nutrients have on plants and how these protect it from specific diseases BOB PERRY - USA Will provide an overview of peer reviewed papers investigating Albrecht and testing methods JOAN TIMMERMANS - NETHERLANDS Will speak on use of plant sap analysis PETER NORWOOD - AUSTRALIA Peter will be discussing human and animal nutrition
TIM REINBOTT Will discuss his work using the Albrecht programme specifically on corn and forage crops and the effects this programme has on soil health.
Farmer speakers from Australia and New Zealand To register visit www.wwag.co.nz or email firstname.lastname@example.org 051724C3798
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EFFICIENT SYSTEMS FEATURE
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Growing 25% more grass using 50% less Nitrogen? Now that would be something. Warren stopped using Urea The results were so conclusive, Warren decided to cut Urea out of his system completely, replacing it with SOA. He also agreed to go on a fertiliser plan that would bring the 16 soil nutrients to their proper levels in relation to each other.
The unknown upsides In November 2016, David Law of Forward Farming was asked to visit a farmer who was pulling his hair out. The farmer (we’ll call him Warren) had started the season with 500 cows to calve and now had a little over 460 with which to complete the season. 22 cows died from metabolic problems, 63 had clinical milk fever, and some had aborted.
David’s first question to Warren
I challenge you to a test!
“How much Nitrogen are you using?” “I use 806kgUrea/ha” “That’s your problem right there. You’re using way too much Nitrogen. Halve it!”
That’s when David issued him an unusual challenge: “I can grow you more grass with far less Nitrogen and I can prove it. So, let’s do a test. You carry on with your Urea system for half the farm, and I’ll treat the other half with my system, using less N. We’ll see who grows more grass.”
As radical as that sounded, David had already proven his Nitrogen ideas during 35 years of farming. His own testing started in 2002, when he began running his farm on biological principles. David was told: It won’t work. It’s airy-fairy. That’s not how we do it. David recalls: “They were right. Feeding the soil biology was not how we were taught to grow grass. We all believed that Superphosphate and Urea were the products we needed. “I believed it as well.”
36% more grass using 80% less nitrogen Even so, David decided to test other ideas and to challenge the belief that good production was determined by a high use of nitrogen. In the space of two years, David took his farm from growing • 14 tonne dm/ha/yr using 150kg of N/ha/yr • to 19 tonne dm/ha/yr by only using 30kg of N/ha/yr. That’s 36% more grass using 80% less nitrogen.
Warren was not buying it. But to Warren, the idea of halving his N was a shock. “I don’t want to grow less grass!” was his response. His reaction was understandable: Like most farmers, Warren held a belief that using Superphosphate and Urea is the way to grow grass. In other words, Nitrogen is the grass-grower and the more you use the better.
The trial took place from December to February, in conditions when Urea is at its best. To begin the trial, David insisted on carrying out a soil test and that his recommendation of fertiliser blend be applied. But that came with a warning: “You’ll be tempted to change my recommendation to create your own brew. Don’t. You’ve asked me to solve a problem, so do exactly what I say or you won’t get the results you’re after.”
According to David, many farmers don’t realise that Nitrogen grows bulk feed, but not quality feed. “From my time in farming, I discovered incredible upsides to properly feeding the soil and soil micro-biology. “Yes, I grew more grass, but it was better grass. It was nutrient-dense feed that was far more palatable, the type that can be allowed to grow longer and can be grazed clean by cows at 3300kg/ha. “The roots of that grass measured 800mm. That in itself mitigated leaching and grew better grass. “Also by properly feeding the soil, I was helping good soil organisms suppress the activity of soil pathogens. That caused a drop in Mastitis , Facial eczema, Foot Rot and Milk Fever. “As farmers, we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that Urea is the go-to product for grass growth. We’re afraid that using less Nitrogen will result in less grass. But as Warren found out, that’s not true. And now that we’re properly balancing the 16 nutrients of his soil, his animals will come right. They won’t get sick like they did before and his milk production will go up.”
Just what the South needs?
Who did what?
Farmers in the South Island have to contend with colder weather. That’s where Sulphate of Ammonia come into its own. Below 10 degrees, Urea does not grow grass. In fact, Urea itself has a cooling affect on the soil.
During the 84 days, Warren applied 60kg Urea/ha/rotation = 28kg N/ha every 20 days. David applied 150kg Sulphate of Ammonia/ ha/every 2nd rotation = 16kg N/ha every 40 days, with nothing in between. During the trial, a strict regime of grassmeasuring included measuring pre-grazing levels + post-grazing levels. This would give a true indication of each system’s effectiveness.
The result: Who won? After four rotations, David’s half of the farm had yielded 8kg/ha more grass using 46kg N/ha less in total.
But SOA actually warms the soil and can grow grass even at 6 degrees soil temperature. SOA also has a slower release, which means it lasts longer in the soil. To learn more about issues raised in this article, contact David Law on 027 490 9896 or visit his website: www.forwardfarming.co.nz
My cows are sick and I’m coming into milking. What should I do? Your farm is a Bio-Circle
Starting with 500 cows to calve, and with milking soon to begin, one South Island farmer now had a little over 460 with which to complete the season. 22 cows had died from metabolic problems, 63 had clinical milk fever, and some had aborted. He was losing milking profit and spending more on medical bills.
The farmer’s Profit Window
July to December is the period where milk production is at its maximum. It’s when most of the money is made. Because of this, farmers should be gearing up to take maximum advantage of it.
The milking target
Ideally, a farmer wants each of his cows to be producing 2.2kgms/day from July to December. But getting an animal to hit the magical 2.2kgms/ day depends entirely on the condition they arrive in at the time of milking. That means preparing cows to be in peak health at the start so they can maintain good condition throughout the calving, milking and mating periods.
Preconditioning is the transitioning period of four weeks prior to calving. The goal is to bring animals up to a 5.0 level of conditioning and this is achieved through a careful combination of diet, trace elements, and supplements. Will a farmer need to spend money to get animals up to a 5.0 condition? Yes, but spending here will be rewarded in two ways: 1. With increased milk production 2. With reduced health problems Think of pre-conditioning as an investment: you spend money to make more money.
If a cow comes into calving with an average-low condition level, she will calve in a tired state. This state will drop further as she expends energy and resources to cope with calving. In her tired state, she may have difficulty pushing out her calf due to low muscle strength. With her immunity levels compromised, she is more susceptible to metabolic sicknesses. But even if the cow avoids illness, her reduced conditioning means she has less energy to give to milk production. The farmer may even have to
To contact David Law: 027 490 9896
David’s way of describing the interconnectedness of a farm system is his concept called the Bio-Circle.TM It describes how each key area flows into and out of other key areas. What’s in the soil goes into the grass. What’s in the grass goes into the cow. What’s in the cow goes into the effluent pond.
milk her less to avoid making her weaker. In the case of our South Island farmer, that scenario was true of all 500 cows. None had a hope of reaching 2.2kgms/day.
If a cow comes into calving with an elevated level of conditioning (5.0), she will be able to calve with relative ease. With strong muscles and high energy levels, she can push out the calf without comprising her own health. That means she can immediately produce 2.2kgms/day straight after calving. Being healthy, the cow also possesses a strong appetite. Her desire to continually feed enables her to maintain good conditioning throughout the Profit Window and beyond. And she is far less susceptible to sickness.
What was the problem with our South Island farmer? When David Law of Forward Farming was called in to help, he went through the key areas, looking for causes for the herd’s poor health. The Management Plan was sound. The Feed Balance was good. He found the problem in the feed quality, or more precisely, the soil from where the feed came. David’s soil test revealed several key problems that accounted for the poor animal health: 1. N levels were far too high. One effect would have been the suppression of Ca in the soil. 2. Mg was too high = out of balance with Ca 3. Na was also too high in relation to K David’s assessment: “If I had seen these soil readings without first knowing the herd’s condition, I would have deduced that their health was compromised. This soil/feed nutritional imbalance was only ever going to hurt these cows!”
Feed the soil, fix the cows
Correct the soil nutrition and you correct the feed. Correct the feed nutrition and you heal the herd. To fix the Mg/Ca imbalance, David recommended that 1.1 tonnes lime/ha be applied to increase Ca levels. This would simultaneously bring Mg levels down since Ca and Mg respond to each other. 300kg/ha Potassium Sulphate was also applied to balance out the Na (too high in relation to K).
What had the farmer’s Fertiliser Consultant suggested?
This farmer’s regular fertiliser consultant had recommended 500kg/ha of Superphosphate + 800kg/ha Urea for the grass. Not only would these measures have failed to address the soil’s nutrient imbalances, the heavy NPK would have escalated the existing problems! Why such a recommendation? “These consultants only assess whether there is enough of a nutrient. They don’t have a system that enables them to evaluate the relationship between the nutrients. It’s a very big blind-spot!”
To read more: fowardfarming.co.nz
Farming Dairy Focus
Are you a listening post for There are two characters from my childhood that have grown to become great, iconic New Zealanders – Fred Dagg and Wal Footrot. The men behind these characters, John Clarke and Murray Ball, understood rural New Zealand and the people who lived there. They created lovable, flawed characters that we could all relate to – back then, all New Zealanders were a little bit country. Now, there’s a chasm between urban and rural, a growing divide that both Fred and Wal would struggle to bridge. Instead of cartoons on the antics of Dog, and the Pongo and Footrot communities, the media today serves up an almost-daily dose of farmer bashing. No longer do you need science, facts, data or history to understand why New Zealand’s fresh water resources are under pressure. You just need an opinion, a keyboard and/or a very loud voice. Take former TV presenter, Nadine Higgins. She wrote in the Sunday
paper about how unfair it was that she can’t take her dog for a swim in any of the Hawke’s Bay rivers because a dog died in one of them recently. She went on to suggest it was because of farmers. (Alternative facts suggest that it was actually because of a blue-green algal bloom unrelated to farming, but let’s not let science get in the way of a good opinion.) It’s not just a national shame, said Higgins (about the dog dying and water quality), but a “National” shame. You see what she did there – shifted the blame from farmers to politicians. “National”, she shouted, have created a freshwater CRISIS because they let in too many cows. I’m not one to be nit-picky but
history doesn’t agree with you, Nadine. The biggest increase in dairy cow numbers was under the last Labour Government’s stewardship, when cow numbers went from 3.2 million in 1998 to 4.3 million in 2008. The numbers peaked at just over 5 million and are now tracking back down again. Not content with knowing very little about water quality or cow numbers, Higgins went on to say that the Land and Water Forum (LAWF) – set up to advise government on freshwater management – is “bleeding members who say their advice is being ignored”. She is correct in that three of its members have resigned because no one was getting alarmed enough about their alarmist, activist agendas. Calling the departure of three from a forum of almost 70 a blood-bath might be overstating it a bit. The forum still retains a number of very knowledgeable, capable members and organisations, including IrrigationNZ,
making a tangible and positive contribution to the development of good policy. Higgins’ baseless blaming has become, sadly, the norm in the ongoing debate over water quality and management. During our recent visit to Wellington, the Greens’ Catherine Delahunty talked about her ‘distrust of the collaborative process’
in relation to resource management, stating that it had been hijacked by people with an agenda and was now the realm of a ‘privileged few’. She too was referencing the LAWF, but also the Canterbury Water Management Strategy and the Zone Committees which are centred around the principles of collaboration. To hear a ‘green’ advocate
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dismissing a style of governance that is central to their own ethos struck me as almost oxymoronic. And as I sat there trying to reason with her and defend collective governance, I had a light bulb moment. I realised why we have such a problem with having a rational debate and finding, if not solutions, at least common ground: it’s
because we’ve stopped listening to each other. In the mad rush to get our opinion across or defend our position, we’ve created a bias filter. We no longer listen to people or organisations with whom we disagree. People aren’t leaving the LAWF or splintering away from Zone Committees because
they’re being ignored, they’re doing it because they refuse to listen to, or accept, other people’s or groups’ opinions and positions. How can this be healthy? Do we teach our kids to throw a tantrum when they don’t get their own way? Or do we teach them to be tolerant; to be quiet when others are talking and to accept the opinions of others,
even though they might be quite different to theirs? Recently I was driving with one of the iwi reps on a zone committee and they spoke of their frustration at the ‘hijacking’ of the meetings by certain factions. It was really disheartening to listen to – here we have a group of people dedicated to, and passionate about,
managing their catchment, people who have accepted the call to action – but who are being increasingly thwarted by activism. I welcome the recent call to action from Federated Farmers President, Dr William Rolleston. He has challenged the primary sector to get together and present a ‘united front’ to address the antifarming rhetoric. Instead of attacking critics, the primary sector should instead tell their stories about how they care for water and land, their animals and their communities. Scientists then need to back them up – revealing the issues that need addressing and how the industry is responding to them. Human beings like being connected in a positive way – that’s why so many of us get involved in zone committees, regulatory processes, as representatives on councils, user and care groups. We are not ‘the privileged few’ as Catherine Delahunty called us, we are the listening posts for our communities.
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Off-season refrigeration shut-down In this editorial we will look at the correct shutting down of refrigeration and heat recovery equipment. There are several dos and don’ts and this can have a dramatic affect on the lifespan of the refrigeration units.
Milk silo refrigeration units These are best to be switched off at the milk silo controls only and it is important the main power is left on the refrigeration units over the winter period. Keeping the power on the refrigeration unit will allow it to start for a short time periodically and maintain the refrigerant in the high side of the system and out of the milk silo and compressor. Also, a small heater on the compressor crankcase will stop refrigerant migrating to the compressor sump over time. Serious damage can result by simply switching on a compressor with liquid refrigerant in the crankcase and also doing a hot silo wash with refrigerant in the
“ Murray Hollings
silo refrigeration pad causes extremely high pressures, possibly causing serious damage to the milk silo.
Water chilling systems Generally water chillers are okay to be switched off at the unit as the system design is somewhat different; although some later chillers have a frost circuit built into them to start the water circulating pump when the temperature of the water at the unit is below 2°C. The pump runs for a short time until the higher temperature tank water reaches the chiller and this temperature is again above 3°C. This system is not foolproof however, as it
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relies on the power being on and we recommend where possible to drain the water from the water chiller circuit during the coldest two to three months of the winter. Water chillers will handle fairly good frosts although if they do get damaged the result can be expensive. All Plug and Play systems should be drained.
Glycol chillers These are the most robust of fluid chillers as the glycol solution will generally handle a 12 to 15°C frost before it will start to solidify. In our climate, it is best to leave the chiller on and it will look after itself. Be careful if it has a desuperheater heat exchanger fitted to heat hot water as this will be a weakness and should be drained over the winter period.
Hot water heating systems 1. Mahana Blue The Mahana Blue has proven to be the more robust of heat recovery hot water heating systems, although they are still capable of being frost damaged. Generally this damage has been limited to a water valve requiring replacement and is noticeable as water will weep from the valve after a severe frost and most systems have an automatic drain emptying the heat exchanger of water when the system is not in use. It is, however, a good idea to switch the Mahana off on the main unit isolating switch and drain the water from the hot and cold connecting pipework over the winter period.
2. Desuperheater (Heat exchanger) The desuperheater heat exchanger is quite sensitive to frost and, while light frosts are unlikely to cause any problems, a series of severe frosts will put strain on the heat exchanger and, in some cases, may actually split allowing water to enter the refrigeration system. The likely result of a large quantity of water entering the refrigeration system is severe damage to the refrigeration unit, normally requiring a new refrigeration unit to be installed and some down time to rid the milk silo refrigeration circuit of water. Our recommendation is to drain all water-based chillers and heat-recovery systems over the coldest three months of the season. If you have any questions give your refrigeration company a call, they will be only too happy to advise you on the best procedure for your own refrigeration equipment. Murray Hollings is the owner of Dairycool
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