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Guardian Ashburton

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Dairy Focus


December 2013

Jeanette Maxwell’s





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2 Dairy Focus December 2013

Common ground Zambian National Farmers Union conference. Sixty-two per cent of Michelle Nelson Zambia’s farmers are women, RURAl reporter and women make up a high proportion of the agricultural he challenges of farming labour force, responsible for in a developing nation much of the crop weeding are the same but and maintenance. different, Federated Farmers Water storage, succession, Meat and Fibre chairwoman roading and biosecurity Jeanette Maxwell discovered are issues in Zambia, but during a trip to Zambia. surprisingly cellphone She was one of two coverage was not. representatives from the “Everywhere we went there Oceania region to visit the was excellent coverage; the African country for the reception was far better than first women’s committee I get on my farm because the meeting of the World Farmers’ government has recognised Organisation, which coincided that the technology is critical,” with the international day she said. of Rural Women and the “The women we spoke to


Dairy Focus An advertising publication of the Ashburton Guardian Opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Ashburton Guardian Publication date: December 17, 2013 Next issue: January 28, 2014 We welcome any correspondence to either: Michelle Nelson, phone (03) 307-7971 email: Desme Daniels, phone (03) 307-7974 email:

Cattle, and their healthy condition, are a sign of prosperity in Africa.

could not believe New Zealand did not have full cellphone coverage – it just shows what different governments embrace.” “They might live in a mud hut with a thatched roof, but they all had televisions and cellphones, and they expected them to work,” she said. Zambian farms range in size from 10 hectares to thousands of hectares, and in terms of technology, from small subsistence units to

large-scale pivot-irrigated ventures. The group visited three farms owned and operated by women, all of whom had taken up family land. All had worked in professions off the farm, returning to take over from their mothers. However, many of Zambia’s women farmers are uneducated, and the inaugural women’s committee explored how to provide information through images rather than language. Mrs Maxwell was impressed

with the ingenuity of the women she met, and their ability to incorporate traditional farming practices with modern technology. A visit to a 100ha dairy farm was an eye opener after the super herds on the Mid Canterbury plains. The 40 cows on the feedlot were milked by hand, because the farmer had chosen to invest borrowed money in pasteurisation and packaging equipment, to supply the local supermarket directly. Her logic was sound: whether you milk by hand or machine you’ve still got the same product to sell, but circumventing the middle man had enabled her to add value by selling direct to the market. A yogurt-style drink was also being produced and packaged on the farm. In a country where livestock ownership signals wealth, the cattle were all in prime condition. Milking by hand is commonplace in Zambia.

Dairy Focus December 2013

The diversity of the farming operations also impressed the visitors. Pigs and hens were farmed side-by-side by growing trees known to have potent antibacterial/antifungal properties in the chicken enclosure. While the pigs were kept indoors, they had spacious pens and were supplied with enrichment toys. The committee also looked at the importance of farmers networking and supporting each other. An example was a vegetable farmer the delegation visited. She needed more electricity, but the project proved to be too expensive, so the farmer enlisted the help of nearby villagers to fund it – she got the power she required and the village was also supplied with electricity. Farm security was also an issue for farmers in Zambia. The vegetable farm was surrounded by a massive electric fence, topped with razor wire – to prevent the theft of infrastructure and the


Farming takes on many guises in Zambia, with women at the helm or working in many of the farms.

incursion of elephants. As with farmers everywhere water was on the agenda. Some farmers were transporting stock water 10km a day prompting a discussion around storing storm water. “There are huge gutters, deep enough to stand in to catch storm water, but it’s not caught anywhere,” she said. “We talked about storing water and holding it for the dry season.” Mrs Maxwell intends to follow up some of the points raised now she is back home.


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Dairy farmers’ resilience shines Michelle Nelson RURAl reporter


espite a severe drought that resulted in a shorter milking season for many of New Zealand’s dairy farmers, milk production only decreased by 1.6 per cent during the 2012/2013 season. According to statistics released by LIC and DairyNZ today, New Zealand’s dairy cows produced 1658 million kilograms of milksolids in 2012/2013, which is down from the record level of production achieved in 2011/2012 but still above 2010/2011 figures. Both organisations agree the achievement is a testament to the resilience of farmers and their ability to manage through a drought with minimal impact

Drought hit dairy farmers’ production figures in 2012/13, putting it below the previous year’s record levels, but it was still above that of 2010/11.

to their business and the New Zealand economy. The strong performance was also helped by an increase in cow numbers, good milk production before Christmas and a strong dairy season in Canterbury, Otago and Southland. The annual New Zealand Dairy Statistics document provides a comprehensive

herd testing, artificial breeding, calving, milk prices, land prices and disease control. Herd reproductive performance has also been added this year, with figures sourced from herds with adequate pregnancy diagnosis information recorded in LIC’s MINDA herd management software, which formulates a Fertility Focus Report and six-week

review of the dairy industry with statistics from the LIC database, Animal Evaluation database, dairy companies, Animal Health Board Annual Report, NZ Real Estate Institute and Statistics New Zealand. The statistics represent all New Zealand dairy farmers, and include cow production and population, operating structures, breed breakdown,

in-calf rate for the herd. The new section has been added in response to an increasing number of farmers pregnancy testing their herd and using DairyNZ’s Fertility Focus Reports which allows them to measure and manage their herd’s performance. Since DairyNZ’s InCalf programme was launched in 2008, use of these reports increased to 2331 herds in 2012/2013, and their average six week in-calf rate for the season was 66.5 per cent. Herd production is fundamental to farm profitability and the industry target, from the DairyNZ InCalf programme, is to get 78 per cent of the herd in-calf within the first six weeks of mating. The full report and more regional statistics can be found on the LIC and DairyNZ websites here: and

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Dairy Focus December 2013 5

Dairying by the numbers

In the South Island • North Canterbury recorded the highest average herd production (309,244kg ms), highest average per ha (1363kg ms) and highest average per cow (391kg ms).

North Canterbury also had the largest average herd size (791 cows).

KEY FACTS Herds Average Total cows

herd size North Island 8912 332 2,955,002 South Island 2979 614 1,829,248 New Zealand 11,891 402 4,784,250

PRODUCTION Total milk Average milk Average milk Average solids solids of herds solids per cow milk solids effective ha North Island 967,046,764kg 108,511kg



South Island 690,675,550kg 231,848kg



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6 Dairy Focus December 2013 Operating structures

Production • • •

Dairy companies processed 18.9 million litres of milk, containing 1658 million kg milksolids. Milksolids processed decreased by 1.6 per cent, from the record 1685 million kg in previous season Production per cow decreased by 4.9 per cent to average 346kg milksolids (196kg milkfat, 150kg protein)

65 per cent of herds were operated as owner-operators. 53 per cent of sharemilkers were 50/50 sharemilkers. The South Island had more variable order sharemilkers than 50/50, while the opposite was the case in the North Island.

• •

THE FACTS – DAIRYING Cows and herds • • • • • •

Herd Reproduction

Number of herds increased from 11,798 to 11,891. Number of cows being milked increased by 150,000 (3 per cent) to 4.78 million cows. Average herd size now exceeds 400 cows. 11 per cent of herds had 750 or more cows. The most common herd size remains at 200 to 249 cows (14.5 per cent). A little over 50 per cent (6373) of herds had between 100 and 349 cows.

• • • •

Use of detailed Fertility Focus Reports, from the DairyNZ InCalf Programme, has increased to 2331 herds (so formulated a sixweek in-calf rate is formulated). Average actual six-week in-calf rate increased to 66.5 per cent (of 2331 herds). 50 per cent had an actual sixweek in-calf rate of 67 per cent or higher. 10 per cent had an actual in-calf rate of 76 per cent or higher. 10 per cent had an actual in-calf rate of 56 per cent or lower


Breed breakdown •

• •

Holstein-Friesian was the prevalent breed in Northland, Bay of Plenty/East Coast and Manawatu/Wairarapa. Holstein-Friesian/ Jersey crossbreed was the prevalent breed in Waikato, Taranaki and all South Island regions. Manawatu/Wairarapa had the highest percentage of HolsteinFriesian cows. Marlborough/Canterbury had the highest proportion of Holstein-Friesian/Jersey crossbreeds. Tasman/West Coast had the highest proportion of Jerseys, followed by Taranaki.

Herd testing/Artificial Breeding • A record 3.42 million cows were herd tested in 2012/13. • After the East Coast, Wairarapa had the highest percentage of herds using herd testing (79 per cent). • A record 3.58 million cows were put to AB, or 75 per cent. • Inseminations for Holstein-Friesian increased to 55 per cent. • Inseminations for the Jersey breed declined to 16 per cent. • Inseminations for crossbreeds increased to 26 per cent

• • • •

• •

• • •

75 per cent of dairy herds are in the North Island. 30 per cent of dairy herds were in the Waikato region, followed by Taranaki with 15 per cent. 62 per cent of cows were in the North Island, 24 per cent in the Waikato. South Taranaki continues to be the district with the most herds (1038) followed by MatamataPiako (1000). Central Hawke’s Bay district had the highest production per herd, average 235,640kg ms. Hawke’s Bay had the largest average herd size (673 cows) and the highest average herd production (209,803kg ms). Manawatu had the highest average ms production per ha (996kg) and the highest average ms per cow (360kg). North Canterbury had the highest average cows per ha (3.49). Mackenzie district recorded the highest production per cow, average 403kg ms. Southland district had the most cows (400,376), followed by South Taranaki (315,300).

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8 Dairy Focus December 2013

Opportunity in equity partnerships E

quity partnerships offer a chance for young farmers and smaller investors to take part in the rise in farm values driven by high dairy payouts and continuing confidence in agriculture’s future, says Justin Geddes, Crowe Horwath’s Dunedin-based principal. “Equity partnerships are a great vehicle to grow your own wealth for both farmers and investors,” he said. The capital cost of running an economic farm unit runs to several million dollars, and one of the pressing issues facing the rural sector is how to get young farmers into farm ownership. One viable option is to set up an equity partnership, where a group of people pool their expertise and capital to buy a farm, often under a company structure. But while there are commercial

An injection of capital through an equity partnership can help young farmers secure ownership.

companies who specialise in equity partnerships, increasingly people with similar interests are forming privately run syndicates, said Mr Geddes. The main focus is on the dairy sector, but with some with interest also in sheep and beef. “At Crowe Horwath we have databases of sharemilkers wanting to grow, and

investors with capital, so we can be instrumental in the formation of an equity partnership.” There have been some disastrous equity partnerships, making it crucial that partners adopt the right approach and structure and have a shared goal. Mr Geddes said the key ingredients of a successful

equity partnership included: • Drawing up a comprehensive shareholder agreement laying down the specifics on how long the partnership will last, how profits are divided, what happens if a partner wants to withdraw, and how debt is to be handled. • A board of directors that gives clear strategic direction

to the farm operator without getting involved in the day- to-day running of the business. In equity partnerships a key board member is the chairman, who often may not have an equity interest in the farm, but has key farming knowledge and governance skills. • Appropriate specialist advisers including bankers, lawyers, farm consultants and accountants. • Budgets, benchmarking and regular reporting to the group are key tools to identifying performance and making changes as each season produces different challenges. • Regular communication between all members of the partnership avoids confusion and ideally on at least a monthly basis. • Crowe Horwath is a financial management firm.

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Dairy Focus December 2013

Advertising feature


Optimising replacements’ growth rates help increase the bacteria population within the rumen which is essential for its development.

reached 90 percent of their targeted

You should provide fresh calf meal containing the correct amino acids (aa) profile to further assist rumen development, remembering that this is not the time to sacrifice feed quality over price.

By doing the maths we can see that if heifers are only doing 1.48 kgMS/day, you are losing 0.5 kgMS/day/heifer. This represents a missed income opportunity of $4.15/day/heifer (based on a payout of $8.30) for as long as the milk production peak lasts (or $3/day/heifer based on a $6 payout).

Some of the calf meals on the market may look attractive based on their price, however this is definitely one of those instances where you get what your pay for. These cheaper calf feeds don’t contain enough of the amino acids required for muscle growth, even if the label does say 20 percent CP, as Crude Protein doesn’t reflect the aa profile.

Weaned stage (12 weeks and over) Once weaned, heifers must have access to all of the high quality pasture they can possibly eat. Good quality straw should also be available at all times as this roughage will keep the rumen healthier by providing scratch factor. Ashburton dairy farmer Chris Atkinson feeding his nine month old calves DBC Unleash Calf Pellet.


e all know how important it is to have good heifer replacements, but are you achieving your desired results and target weights? Most farmers will answer “yes” to that question, but the reality is different.

poor outcomes from young dairy stock graziers. Heifers are sent away for grazing and most farmers fail to track their weight gain often enough to ensure the animals return to the farm at their mating or calving target body weight.

Recent research presented this year indicates that 86-92 percent of New Zealand dairy farms are not achieving 60 percent of the mature heifer’s weight at mating as they should, and therefore are not achieving 90 percent at calving either. This lower weight in heifers is affecting milk production in at least the first two lactation cycles of the animal.

Below we analyse some of the main factors affecting you all reaching that goal:

Target milk production for heifers in the first lactation should be not less than 90 percent of the average herd production let’s say your mature cows are peaking at 2.2 KgMS/day, consequently your heifers should be peaking at 1.98 KgMS/day. Are yours? This failure to reach peak production is mainly because of lighter than normal target weights and accepting

Rumen Development Stage (Birth – 12 weeks) The faster calves develop their rumen, the faster they grow. In order to have a fully developed rumen at weaning time, you must start working towards this from day one. During the first six hours immediately following birth, make sure all calves are tube fed 4-litres of “fresh” colostrum taken from a mature cow. The next day you should begin feeding them 4-litres of colostrom per day and continue this for their first three weeks. On top of their colostrum requirements, at all times calves should also have good quality straw or hay available as the forage will

mature body weight at calving. So why pay twice?

If you are only achieving 420KgMS/ year/heifer, you are losing $522/heifer/ year in milk production just because the heifers didn’t achieve their target weights at calving and needed to put on more weight during their first lactation.

Our tips for maximising growth rates • Be proactive with your future cows. • Replacements must be made a high priority. • You can’t manage what you don’t measure and guessing is not good practice.

At this stage of animal development, feeding about 1kg per day of the correct concentrates will result in about 0.9-1kg per animal per day of body weight gain.

• Don’t accept an average job you are paying big money for grazing so make sure your targets are being reached by the grazier.

The key here is making sure that the person in charge of your young stock achieves your expected target weights every month. In order to gauge this accurately, avoid the temptation to just guest and use scales to record precisely where calf weights are at. And wherever possible, draw up a contract with your grazier to include penalties if heifers do not achieve agreed target weights.

• Offer good quality straw in all stages of growth.

This will ensure that you are getting what you pay for, i.e.: a fully grown heifer ready to produce milk in the first lactation. So take the time to do the maths for your own animals and set your own weight targets to include in your contract with the grazier.

• Early and accurate planning will set your dairy heifers up for a longer, more productive life.

Data available within New Zealand shows that 20 percent to 30 percent of production will be lost during a heifer’s first lactation to compensate for lower weight gain in the earlier stages of life. This represents a huge loss when you are already paying good money for a grazier to produce heifers that should have

• Use the meal that has the correct amino acids profile for the calves at that stage. Remember, with calf feed quality you get what you pay for, so if you are not sure if it contains the feed values your calves require ask your dairy advisor or nutritionist.

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Dairy Focus December 2013 11

Winning not the main benefit


he 2012 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards farm manager of the year Mick O’Connor says the hardest part about the awards is actually entering. “Once you have done that, there’s no looking back.” Mr O’Connor, who is contract milking 940 cows at Dunsandel for Dairy Holdings, says the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are great. “We entered for a number of reasons, but mainly to see where our business was at and where improvement was needed. “It wasn’t about winning. It was more about meeting other like-minded people that were pushing themselves and getting ourselves outside our comfort zone.”

Entries are now being accepted in the 2013 New Zealand Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, New Zealand Farm Manager of the Year and New Zealand Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions. Entries are being received online at www.dairyindustryawards. and close on Friday. Mr O’Connor says he and wife Kirsten, a personal banker, put 100 per cent into their entry. “If we had never entered we would never have gained anything. The prizes are really good, but the most important thing we gained is the people contact and contacts for the future. “The people that judged us are top people in the field, so we got a free analysis of our business. The result of that is

Mick O’Connor, the 2012 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards farm manager of the year, is encouraging young farmers to enter this year’s competition.

that we are more aware of our business as a whole from the farm back to the finances, and linking them together.” He says the dairy awards cater for people choosing any of the career pathways now available to progress in dairy farming, including equity farm managers, contract milkers, sharemilkers, managers and trainees. Entering the awards had also helped the couple personally.

“Kirsten isn’t involved in the day-to-day running of the dairy farm, but entering had helped her understand what I do and the processes involved in dairy farming. “I strongly encourage farmers to enter as there is so much to gain from the experience. Back yourself and have a go.” About 428 people had entered the awards as at December 1, the earlybird close-off.

National convenor Chris Keeping said the number was up from 381 at the same time last year. To date, the Canterbury/ North Otago region has the most entries, followed by Waikato and Taranaki regions. Organisers expect about 500 people will enter the 2013 awards. • Further information can be found at

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12 Dairy Focus December 2013

Excellence in irrigation sought T

he hunt is under way for examples of innovation within New Zealand’s irrigation sector as industry body IrrigationNZ gears up for its biennial conference in Hawke’s Bay. The prestigious award, which comes with a $2500 prize, celebrates and promotes innovation within New Zealand’s irrigation industry. IrrigationNZ chief executive Andrew Curtis says the category is extremely broad and encompasses technical innovations by industry, initiatives which protect the environment and innovative thinking where irrigation has helped create resilient communities. “Innovation is commonplace within our sector as irrigators

Curtis said. “The reality is most irrigators strive to be efficient water users and are considerate of their environment. There are lots of exciting things happening within our industry and the award gives us an opportunity to recognise the positive impact irrigation plays in many communities.” Past winners of the award include the North Otago IrrigaAndrew Curtis, IrrigationNZ tion Company in 2012 which chief executive. used its prize to re-establish the North Otago Sustainable are constantly responding to Land Management Group regulatory and community (NOSLAM) to promote responfeedback to improve perforsible farming in its area. The mance. Unfortunately too often the focus is on the nega- company worked alongside tive, and many significant ad- the Otago Regional Council, local runanga and NOSLAM to vances made by our industry develop its ground-breaking have been overlooked,” Mr

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Dairy Focus December 2013 13

There are lots of exciting things happening within our industry and the award gives us an opportunity to recognize the positive impact irrigation plays in many communities

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son who has made a significant contribution to irrigation within New Zealand. Named after J R (Ron) Cocks, a Mid Canterbury farmer who was an early leader in water issues, the award is given every two years to a New Zealander who has demonstrated leadership, voluntary dedication and achievement within the irrigation sector. The 2012 recipient was Brian Cameron from Ashburton. Entries for IrrigationNZ’s Innovation in Irrigation Award in association with Aqualinc close on February 11. The awards will be presented at the conference and expo next April, being held in Napier for the first time.

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14 Dairy Focus December 2013

New model of effluent pond stirrers! P

life and a new style of anti-snag blade. Perhaps the best bit is that all of this is supported by a two-year warranty, which is just about unheard of with dairy effluent machinery.

luck’s Engineering Ltd is the company that is the inventor and developer of the “famous in NZ” Enviro Saucer (cone-shaped pond). The company continued with its usual innovation, when about four years ago it developed the Pluck’s range of Effluent Pond Stirrers that brought a whole new thinking to how farmers could, and should, look after their effluent ponds. This involves not only stirring 24/7 to keep the ponds biologically active by supporting oxygen and daylight input, but keeping most of the solids in suspension all the time as well so they can be pumped out any time. They achieved all this with only 1.1kW of electricity per stirrer.

The stirrers will arrive on the farm ready to be quickly assembled and afloat in any pond in just a few minutes, complete with under-frame blade protection to ensure that your stirrer cannot damage your plastic liner. So why are stirrers so important and why are hundreds of Pluck’s stirrers sold all throughout New Zealand and overseas? Well it’s all about oxygen and daylight. Ample oxygen supply and exposure to daylight in a waste-water pond system is the key to rapid and effective dairy effluent treatment and anaerobic (good guys) bacteria bug growth.

Pluck’s has continued to develop its range of stirrers, and the company is about to release to the market a new range of stirrers that retain the very low kW motors and huge blade under the surface. However, the new models are now powered through an in-line planetary gear box/motor combo, supported by two 40mm steady bearings that do not need greasing for

Without sufficient oxygen being present, bacteria are not able to quickly biodegrade the incoming organic matter. In the absence of oxygen, degradation must occur under septic conditions which are slow, odorous

ADR 500 Effluent Screening Plant


before proper treatment has occurred. This causes improperly treated solids to fall away from the active, overhead treatment process. It also creates septic conditions on the pond floor which, in themselves, pull available oxygen out of the upper layers of the pond and reduce the effectiveness of treatment in the upper zone.

and yield incomplete conversions of pollutants. For example, two-stage ponds designed to biodegrade waste water pollutants without oxygen must hold the incoming waste water for six months or longer (without any further waste water coming in) to achieve acceptable levels of pollution removal. This is because the breaking down of organic matter in the absence of oxygen is a slow process.

When this occurs, the sludge builds up to a point where it effectively eliminates the main advantage of a large pond system because the capacity of the pond is getting smaller every day, and it becomes hard to pump out through the farmer’s effluent pump let alone fit the thick effluent through the irrigator nozzles without blocking them.

Adequate stirring, or mixing, which keeps the pond’s contents in suspension, is also an important element. With mixing, incoming pollutants and waste water are better distributed throughout the entire pond volume. This results in more uniform and efficient treatment. In addition, solids that would normally settle straight away are kept suspended by the mixing action and brought back into contact with the microbial bacteria floating throughout the pond happily eating up most of the stink and goop. Poor mixing, or no mixing, has the effect of creating thick solid deposits that fall to the pond floor

Pluck’s is also continuing to work on another range of stirrer for the shallow, big tank type of ponds which are becoming more common and which can be tricky to keep everything moving in when the effluent level is low. For more information please call Pluck’s Engineering Ltd on 0800 PLUCKS to find a distributor in your area.

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A typical treated pond pumped out to only about 300mm deep, and still no smell and very little build up of solids. r All plant and pumps very low kW r Self cleaning screen r Self cleaning ponds

r Effluent is clean enough to be pumped into a pivot system if required r Screens out everything bigger than 1 mm

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7 Main South Road, Rakaia 7710 Mid Canterbury

v Your Effluent Pond Smell will be all gone after only a couple of months. v Impact creates about a 95% reduction in the solids. v Impact digests all the solids aerobically and this makes the nutrients almost 100% plant available. v What this can do for your farm is up to 70% increase in grass growth and the nutritional value of the grass is much higher. v Cows will happily eat the grass just two days after the effluent has been spread. v The aerobic bacteria in Impact also see pathogens, (such as facial eczema & mastitis etc), as “food”. Impact destroys them in your ponds. v No damage to pond liners because they don’t need to be mechanically cleaned out.

An empty pond with no build up keeps Ecan, and all the rest of them, very happy, not to mention no sucker trucks or diggers required again.

CRUST WATER + PARTICLES SOLIDS Pre-treated anearobic pond SCUM

When your pond is dosed regularly with Impact, And you have a Plucks Effluent Pond Stirrer installed, you will have the ultimate pond management system, where you will be able to draw your pond right down to nearly completely empty any time you want, with little risk of blocking your pump or irrigator, because most of the solids have been eaten up and dissolved.


Maintenance dosed stabilised pond

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7 Main South Road, Rakaia 7710 Mid Canterbury

Dairy Focus December 2013 15

52 years taking care of your business E

ffluent ponds are a vital part of dairy farming. But they’re no use when they’re overflowing.

Call SJ Allen Ltd to keep yours in tip top condition. SJ Allen have been operating for over 50 years, are family owned and operated. Employing 14 staff and having a huge fleet of trucks including 15 effluent trucks and a variety of waterblasters, Hydro Excavation units, CCTV vehicles and STMS sign trucks means they are able to cover a wide area from just south of Kaikoura through to Palmerston and the Lakes district and generally have the job done in a matter of days. Manager Darren Ladbrook said the company takes care of all effluent matters, including providing pond stirrers, which in just a few hours will have broken up the crust, bringing the solids from the bottom of the pond up to become a slurry, this can then be spread evenly onto paddocks. ``We’re very flexible with what we can

do,’’ Darren says. “From effluent ponds, underpasses, saucers, wedges and stone traps”. These are just some of the services that can be provided to the Dairy Industry. SJ Allen Ltd also have 8 water blasters for a wide range of applications, from drain cleaning and unblocking to surface cleaning for paint preparation . Part of the drain cleaning services are 2 closed circuit television vans using the latest technology in CCTV.2 closed circuit televisions are using the latest technology in CCTV are also available. Suitable for blockages, checking root intrusions in pipes and spotting other problems including misplaced joint rings in drains and pipes. The CCTV vans and waterblasters service the South Island and have the technology to complete highly specialised jobs. Other services SJ Allen Ltd offer is grease trap & septic tank cleaning and they are the only registered contractor in South Canterbury with a bulk waste oil facility.

52 years taking care of your business • Turning farm waste into liquid fertiliser • Farm effluent spreading • Silo cleaning • Effluent pond stirring



• • • •

Cleaning out underpasses Septic/holding tanks Effluent sump maintenance Specialists in farm waste management • Above ground effluent tank cleaning • Culvert pipe cleaning • Drain cleaning & unblocking • High pressure waterblasting up to 13000 PSI • CCTV inspections of drains • Well pipe cleaning We service Mid and South Canterbury, North Otago and the lakes districts. A family run business 100% locally owned and operated.

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16 Dairy Focus December 2013

Iwi and Lincoln partner up in dairy farming T

Professor Keith Cameron explaining how lysimeters will work on the farm.

he Mana Whenua Working Party, Ngai Tahu Farming and Lincoln University have announced a partnership to support the development of the Ngai Tahu Farming portfolio in Eyrewell, North Canterbury. Under the partnership, Lincoln University will provide a threeyear programme of environmental, biodiversity and water resource monitoring. It will have two objectives: environmental monitoring of nitrate leaching and valuing biodiversity through restoration planting.  The Eyrewell farming development is 40km north-west of Christchurch and sits within the takiwa (tribal area) of Ngai Tahu hapu (sub-tribe), Ngai Tuahuriri.

Ngai Tahu Farming began dairy farming on the site in 2012. The Mana Whenua Working Party is made up of members of Ngai Tahu hapu who hold mana whenua (authority) over the Hurunui and Waimakariri river catchments associated with Ngai Tahu Farming’s Eyrewell and Balmoral developments.  Cultural and environmental aspirations have been the top priorities for mana whenua, says Ngai Tuahuriri chairwoman and member of the Mana Whenua Working Party, Clare Williams. “Our main concern is nutrient levels in waterways. We don’t want our farms to adversely affect our waterways because that’s where we get our kai

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Dairy Focus December 2013 17

Ngai Tahu’s Eyrewell dairy farm.

from,” says Ms Williams. The environmental monitoring of Ngai Tahu Eyrewell Dairy Farms will involve measurements of nitrate leaching losses.  Lysimeters (large tubes containing undisturbed columns of soil) will be used to measure the nitrate leaching loss in drainage water. The lysimeters will be installed in an on-farm facility on farm one.  This facility will be constructed within a monitor paddock on the dairy farm. The facility will

also serve as an on-farm laboratory suitable for visitors to inspect. Ngai Tahu Property chief executive Tony Sewell says the research is forward-thinking and will allow us to better manage our farming businesses.  “We are pleased to be teaming up with the expertise of Lincoln University. “Understanding our impact will help us to make educated farming decisions to minimise the movement of harmful

contaminants, it will ensure we are at the forefront of dairying and that we are doing our best to uphold Ngai Tahu values,” Mr Sewell says. The biodiversity programme will protect and expand vegetation remnants within the farms and enhance the future trajectory of the ecological restoration.  More than 150 hectares is already set aside for native plants and animals.  The goal is to add value to the Ngai Tahu Farming development at Eyrewell, which will

provide a template for future dairy farms. “Lincoln University will help Ngai Tahu Farming operate profitably within environmental safeguards so that all expectations are met,” says Lincoln University vice-chancellor, Dr Andrew West.  Lincoln University’s Dean of the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Professor Bruce McKenzie adds that it is important that partnerships like this are formed, that will have positive impacts on our

sustainable environment. “There has been much public commentary of late about the impact dairying is having on our environment and the need to mitigate environmental impacts. Lincoln University has the research knowledge and capability to work in collaboration with key dairying partners like Ngai Tahu Farming, to improve nutrient use and provide farmers with information to manage farming systems efficiently,” says Professor McKenzie.

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18 Dairy Focus December 2013

Fertigation - The Ultimate Solution

“Metering pumps in center-pivot irrigation systems allow growers to apply fertilisers in the most precise, timely and cost-effective manner” For the grower looking to optimize cost, efficiency, return on investment and, most important, yield, the ultimate solution is a fertigation system (which consist of some combination of hoses, injectors) that utilises metering pumps to introduce the grower’s desired amount of fertilisers and chemicals – no more and no less – into the farm’s centre pivot water irrigation system at the precise time. Metering pumps are perfect for these operations because they are reciprocating positive- displacement pumps that deliver precise amounts of fertilisers and chemicals, which enable the grower to control the amount and the timing of the application. They are highly accurate, repeatable and provide flow rates that are easily adjustable. They are also able to meet the unique handling characteristics required for fertilisers (which are usually solutions) and chemicals (which are often suspensions of fine particles in liquid). A fertigation system that features a metering pump is perfect for use with a centre pivot watering system because the pump’s operations overcomes the challenges that most perplex the grower. Anybody that can use a calculator can set the needed flow rate for a metering pump. Once the flow rate is determined, that precise amount of fertiliser or chemical will be applied through the centre pivot irrigation system. Because of the metering pump’s efficiency, a large crop-growing operation can effectively and efficiently use one pump to service up to three centre pivot systems. Additionally, applying precise amounts of fertiliser via a metering pump through a centre pivot system at precise times during the growing season will boost yield while needing less fertiliser to realise those higher yields. The use of metering pumps in conjunction with a centre pivot system also keeps the grower more nimble and able to adjust to changing growing conditions. CONCLUSION The ultimate benefit of utilizing metering-pump technology for the application of fertilisers and chemicals through the centre pivot is the positive return to the grower’s bottomline. The rising prices of fertilisers and chemicals make it necessary to inject the exact amount of each at precisely the right time. Aerial application of insecticides, fungicide sand herbicides is expensive and the timing of the applications is not completely under the grower’s control. A centre pivot irrigation system can cost upwards of$100,000. A fertigation system that utilises metering pumps will cost $3,500 to $4,000. Using the centre pivot as a spray boom for chemicals and fertilisers allows reduced input costs, precision timing and increased yields, money that can accelerate the repayment of the original investment in the centre pivot system. While growers will never be able to precisely predict weather patterns (with any measurable accuracy), they can expand the window of crop viability by making the best use of the best application technology that is available. In this case, that is metering-pump technology, which can be a key and cost-effective component in any centre pivot Peter Yealands in the vine-pruning bales at his vineyard and winery. irrigation system.


Winemaker wins title


arlborough entrepreneur and winemaker Peter Yealands has won the prestigious Lincoln University Foundation South Island Farmer of the Year award for 2013. The finals were held at Lincoln University with chief judge Nicky Hyslop saying the Yealands entry stood out for its innovation, entrepreneurship and vision. The prize was a $20,000 grant toward travel for study, research, marketing, or a combination of those. The Yealands entry, one of six finalists from throughout the South Island, also won the Silver Fern Farms Plate to Pasture award for consumer awareness, and the Lincoln University award for best use of technology and innovation, receiving $5000 for each. “Peter impressed us with his philosophy of ‘think boldly tread lightly and never say it can’t be done’,” Mr Hyslop said. “He also demonstrated outstanding innovation inside and outside of the winery business. That was backed up by sound business practices integrated into every aspect of the operation, and a holistic ‘vine to

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bottle’ approach. Peter showed he was a visionary and had the will and the tenacity to convert that into a successful farm business enterprise.” Andrew, Karen and Sam Simpson from Lake Tekapo were runners-up with their high country sheep station, Balmoral, that has diversified into forestry, deer, cropping, property development, conservation recreation, processing of their wool and meat. The BNZ award for best human resource management and the award for resource use efficiency were both won by North Canterbury dairy farmers Alan and Sharron Davie-Martin. “We had an outstanding group of finalists this year, all of a very high calibre,” says Lincoln University Foundation chairman Ben Todhunter. “They each in their way represented some of the best examples of the high performing, innovative, leading edge farming that is coming out of the South Island. This high standard of entry represents not only a strong future for this competition, but for New Zealand, as we seek to encourage, promote and reward farming excellence.”

Dairy Focus December 2013 19

Staff matters to the fore


uman resource management is at the front of farmers’ minds since the Labour Inspectorate began visiting farms to check compliance with minimum employment rights. The first visits began in Southland in August and it has been announced that the work will be replicated in the Waikato, Hawke’s Bay and Taranaki. Primary ITO, the country’s leading provider of dairy farming qualifications, offers two qualifications that can help. The National Certificate in Rural Staff Management and the Human Resource Module of the National Diploma in Agribusiness are designed to help farmers ensure they have sound HR

management procedures. “Farmers are generally pretty good when dealing with their staff. However, HR practices can sometimes play second fiddle to the day-today running of their business. The Labour Inspectorate visits have prompted farmers to start thinking about whether their human resource practices are up to best standards,” says Primary ITO Southland regional manager Andrew Shepherd  “We’re finding that farmers  are starting to realise that in order to attract and retain good staff they not only need to be aware of their responsibilities as employers, but also have sound processes in place to manage staff performance and develop

Staff development is an important part of a farmer’s responsibility to staff.

high performing teams.” Farmers can gain skills in meeting their employment obligations and building the right farm team, through the HR Module of the Diploma, or through the Rural Staff Management qualification. Although both qualifications cover HR best practices, the HR module in the Diploma is just one part of a wider area of learning focused on improving business skills in all areas of agribusiness management.

Craig McGregor, Rural Staff Management graduate and contract milker says “I’d recommend the Rural Staff Management course to anybody who is looking to employ and retain good staff. The recruitment and selection techniques I’ve learnt will help ensure we have a good idea about a potential employee’s personality and strengths. It’s important that we find someone who fits in well with us and the culture on the farm.

“Although I already knew a lot about our responsibilities, it was an eye opener to see there was still a lot of small print that we didn’t know about. I now have renewed confidence to know what is right and wrong when dealing with staff, which is crucial, especially if you have staff that want to test you.”  “Since the course we’ve also implemented weekly time sheets in order to make sure we are not under paying or over working our staff.”   • Rural Staff Management and Diploma Qualifications are starting around the country in 2014. Contact a training advisor on 0800 208020 to find out more.

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20 Dairy Focus December 2013

Reducing the facial eczema risk W

hile hot humid weather across the country has provided the perfect conditions for lush pasture cover this spring, farmers need to stay alert for an increased risk of facial eczema through summer. Dairy and beef cattle, sheep, deer and goats are all susceptible to facial eczema which can damage the liver and cause inflammation of the bile ducts and a resulting sensitivity to sunlight. Ballance Agri-Nutrients animal nutrition product manager, Jackie Aveling, says even before physical signs appear exposure to facial eczema can have a significant impact on animals particularly cows where it can result in an immediate drop in milk production. “Prevention is the best form of defence. For dairy farmers

Facial eczema puts pressure on dairy cows and the disease can cause an immediate fall in production.

facial eczema can put a real brake on production when they are aiming to make the most of reasonable growing conditions when peak production is tapering off,” Mrs Aveling says. “It’s possible that farmers will not be aware of the full extent of a facial eczema problem until it’s too

late. If as little as three per cent of the herd show clinical signs of facial eczema, then sub-clinical cases can affect up to 70 per cent of the herd. “This can eat into dairy profits with a drop in production in affected animals by up to 50 per cent, and with a record payout following last season’s

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drought farmers want to ensure every cent hits the bank.” Sub-clinical facial eczema is the result of exposure to the toxin sporidesmin, which grows in pasture. Spore counts increase where grass temperatures are above 12 degrees for three consecutive nights and can vary from farm to farm and even between paddocks. Monitoring spore counts through summer and autumn through websites such as the AsureQuality spore count site, and having an early plan of attack for facial eczema in place will ensure the hard work being put into maintaining a healthy herd pays off in sustained production. Zinc treatment during the season from late December to May is recommended to help prevent facial eczema. However the challenge is that

the common practice of dosing troughs with zinc sulphate doesn’t guarantee the desired result, as zinc tastes bitter and can reduce water intake. The solution is to improve the taste by using Zincmax+. This product is a combination facial eczema treatment with Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines registration. Its peppermint taste makes it palatable and it includes organic copper. The taste helps ensure herds keep up their water consumption. The organic copper helps offset zinc’s antagonistic affect which reduces the absorption of this important trace element. Copper is important for production, immune response and also cycling ahead of breeding. Low copper levels can also affect growth and fertility in heifers.

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Dairy Focus December 2013 21

ACC shaves farmers’ levies F

Katie Milne farming categories in 2014/15 are being shaved between 21 and as high as 29 per cent. “From the macro sense this will save all businesses, not just farming ones, $151 million this financial year in the

Work Levy alone. As farmers are self-employed they will get a share of what is a $151 million safety dividend. “Employees will also be paying $236 million less in the Earners’ Levy too. “While Federated Farmers is very happy with this that comes as a result of ACC consultation, one thing we will be watching out for is to ensure any cut to levies does not shift the goal posts of entitlement when farmers need to claim.  “We trust the levy cuts re-

flect a far more efficient and focused ACC, rather than chalking up accidental injuries as part of the ‘wear and tear’ of being alive. “Given what (ACC) Minister Collins said earlier in the week, we remain very hopeful that a safer vehicle fleet including farm road going farm vehicles, will see a cut next year in the motor vehicle account average levy,” Mrs Milne says. “Overall this is a very good result for employers and

employees alike but we now wonder if the time has come to give ACC its political independence from levy setting, much like the Reserve Bank has with the Official Cash Rate,” Mrs Milne concluded. The table above shows the finalised 2014/15 Work Levy rates (current portion) for employers and self-employed people compared to last year’s rates payable on each $100 of wages or earnings from self-employment (all rates shown exclude GST).

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As farmers are self-employed they will get a share of what is a $151 million safety dividend. Employees will also be paying $236 million less in the Earners’ Levy too


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22 Dairy Focus December 2013

Benefits still flow for first winners T

he benefits from participating in the New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards are still flowing for the inaugural winners of the Sharemilker of the Year contest in 1990. Taranaki’s Kevin and Diane Goble won the contest, which boosted their profile among peers and the wider farming community. At an event to mark the competition’s 25th anniversary recently, the Gobles said the trip down memory lane had made them realise what an honour it was to win the New Zealand Sharemilker of the Year contest. “Winning the contest gave us the confidence in our farming ability and decisionmaking which helped when moving up to farm ownership.” Entries in the 2014 awards,

including the Sharemilker/ Equity Farmer of the Year, Farm Manager of the Year and Dairy Trainee of the Year competitions, are being accepted at www. until December 20. The Gobles now own farms milking 620 cows at Okato and a farm at Waverley milking 400 cows. Mr Goble said he was involved with the local organising committee for a few years following the couple’s win. “We have made a lot of friends and acquaintances from this competition and over the years we have all moved through the sharemilking farm purchase cycle, and have been able to share ideas along the way,” Mr Goble said. Judges had identified strengths in their financial

All aspects of farm management, including calf rearing, are scruitinised in the Dairy Industry Awards.

management and understanding of associated costs. “This was a huge benefit to us when we were purchasing our first farm and in dealing with the banks, giving us confidence in our farm budgets and cost analysis,” he said. “Having to present your farming business and have it scrutinised by the judges

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means you need to know your business and you learn a lot about what you are doing and why in the process.” Mr Goble said the competition would be nothing without its sponsor support and he had enjoyed the support and a long association with some of the awards sponsor representatives. The Dairy Industry Awards are supported by national

• Visit www. for more information and to enter. Entries close on Friday.

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Dairy Focus December 2013 23

Watch out for needle grasss


armers and landowners are being asked to keep an eye out for the Chilean needle grass (CNG) plant pest which flowers and seeds at this time of year. The affected sites now numbers 14 after plants were found on roadsides near known sites and two plants were found on a property adjoining an affected site. Environment Canterbury is working to prevent further spreading of the pest, which has the potential to infest an estimated 15 million hectares on the east coasts of the north and south islands. CNG seeds prolifically and can displace pasture and desirable vegetation leading to reduced crop yield; its seeds catch on passing

animals and burrow into the skin (lambs are vulnerable to seeds penetrating their eyes and causing blindness); and it requires changes in farming practices as affected land cannot be used at certain times of the year. Principal biosecurity advisor and manager of ECan’s CNG programme, Laurence Smith, says it is critical that the pest is dealt with effectively as further spread would threaten the sustainability of arable and pastoral farming. Biosecurity officers are actively looking for new CNG sites but, with a lag between seed spread and establishment, farmers and landowners need to be vigilant and report any suspected sightings as soon

ECan wants any sightings of Chilean needle grass reported.

“Environment Canterbury committed more than $150,000 to its CNG work in the past financial year and will spend a similar amount in the 2013/14 financial year. But that won’t be enough on its own and our rural communities need to take an interest and be committed to working with us on this.” ECan has appointed a new co-ordinator, Jenna Taylor, to implement an awareness programme funded by the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Farming Fund, regional and local authorities,

as possible. “Land owners need to take responsibility for farm biosecurity and ensure people visiting their properties follow vehicle and machinery hygiene procedures so spread of Chilean needle grass from undetected sites is minimised,” Mr Smith says. “It is a challenging task as CNG seeds can easily be spread quickly throughout Canterbury by various pathways including people, stock, vehicles and equipment moving from one property or area to another.

Beef & Lamb New Zealand and Teece Family Vineyards. A video through the Sustainable Farming Fund project funded by Beef & Lamb New Zealand has been produced to help farmers and landowners identify CNG. It can be viewed on the Environment Canterbury website. • Anyone who thinks they may have sighted CNG should contact ECan’s Amberley office on 03 314 8014 or its customer service centre on 0800 EC INFO as soon as possible.



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24 Dairy Focus December 2013

Water plan gives farmers certainty I

ndustry body DairyNZ says Environment Canterbury’s release of decisions on its Land and Water Regional Plan signals real progress in the long regulatory process for farmers. DairyNZ regional policy manager James Ryan says that while the plan has significant implications for farming in the region, it provides an important holding position while Environment Canterbury sets limits at the catchment scale through community-based zone committees. He says DairyNZ recognises that this is a significant step for the regional council, developing a new regional plan in a relatively short period. “It is absolutely essential for farmers to have regulatory certainty if they are to

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continue to invest wisely in farm improvements,” he says. Mr Ryan said a DairyNZ project to trial the implementation of Sustainable Milk Plans in North Canterbury and support farmers with one-on-one advice is already under way. “We updated the Hurunui Waiau Zone Committee on that project this week. It will provide valuable lessons that will be applied elsewhere in Canterbury as new council rules come into play,” Mr Ryan says. “DairyNZ has been running a similar project in the Waikato with 700 farmers for the past 18 months.” “DairyNZ understands that councils are required to set freshwater limits as part of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. While limits present us all with significant challenges,

they can also help to ensure that farmers make prudent investments for the future,” Mr Ryan says. “We recognise that all water users, including farmers, need to manage the effects of land use on water effectively. DairyNZ has substantially increased its investment in the environmental area. It is up more than 60 per cent in that area this year.” Mr Ryan says. DairyNZ will be meeting with Environment Canterbury officials to discuss how they intend to implement a number of the plan requirements. “We will be urging the council to give farmers good information on what this means for their farms so that they fully understand the implications of the new planning framework.”

James Ryan, DairyNZ’s regional policy manager.

13/11/13 8:44 am

Dairy focus December 2013  

Ashburton Guardian Dairy Focus December 2013