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Dairy Focus JANUARY, 2015

The certainty of stored water Pages 3-5

Photo Michelle Nelson

The newly-commissioned Carew Storage Farm.

Phone: 027 255 8501 Scott


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Farming Dairy Focus

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INDEX

COMMENT FROM EDITOR

Carew Water Farm – stored water offers certainty

3

IrrigationNZ CEO Andrew Curtis on alpine-fed water storage

6

Management in the big dry

8

Efficient irrigation practices

10

Fred Hoekstra talks about BDD

12

Low flows impact on water quality

16

Minister visits Mid Canterbury

23

A Broker’s View with Grant Davies 

24

Cooling off with Murray Hollings

25

Synlait leads with pride

26

Update on the dairy industry awards

29

Staff Matters with Matt Jones

30

With irrigation restrictions in place and no end in sight to what has already been called the driest Canterbury summer in a decade, farmers are keeping cool heads. This is possibly because most of them have been here before. Not so long ago this would have been deemed a “typical” summer and contingency plans would always have been in place to manage. It was probably in just such conditions that our early irrigation pioneers looked at the water flowing down the Rangitata River and set out to devise a plan to get it out on to the district’s parched but fertile soils. Construction of the district’s first large-scale scheme – the Rangitata Diversion Race (RDR), began in the depression years of the 1930s and for the first two years construction was carried out by unemployed work gangs, using picks, shovels and wheelbarrows. Over the years border-dyking has been replaced by spray systems, giving rise to centre pivots. In recent years talk has turned to the need to store alpine water and in

Michelle Nelson

RURAL EDITOR

this month’s edition of Dairy Focus, and we take a look at the recently completed Carew Water Storage Farm. It will be another year before it comes into its own, but shareholders on the Mayfield Hinds Irrigation Scheme will be hoping it will help drought-proof their businesses next summer. In the interim, concern has been raised about the impact of what has been dubbed the “big dry” on farmers who are unfamiliar with Canterbury’s extreme weather pattern, in particular dairy farmers already dealing with a lower payout forecast. If you, or someone you know needs support, get in touch with your local rural support trust, or talk to your GP.

CONTACTS We appreciate your feedback. Editor Email your comments to michelle.n@theguardian.co.nz or phone 03 307 7971.

Advertising Email eden.k@theguardian.co.nz or phone 03 307 7963. Post Ashburton Guardian, PO Box 77, Ashburton.

The recently completed Carew Water Storage Farm. PHOTO MICHELLE NELSON 090115-MN-043

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Stored water offers certainty RURAL EDITOR

In the midst of the driest summer in a decade, work has been completed on a multimillion dollar water storage farm in Mid Canterbury. Now all that is needed is rain in the back country, to fill it up. The $14 million Carew Storage Farm, built for shareholders of the Mayfield Hinds Irrigation Ltd (MHIL) scheme, covers 150ha and has the capacity to store 6.1 million cubic metres of water, which shareholders hope will help “drought proof ” their businesses in seasons like this. The company’s 150 shareholders have been involved from the onset of the project in 2006, from the purchase of the farm to the consenting process.

Mayfield Hinds Irrigation director David Mavor (left) and general manager Hamish Tait at the newly commissioned Carew Storage PHOTO MICHELLE NELSON 090115-MN-046 Farm.

“It needed to be financially viable,” MHIL general manager Hamish Tait said. Rooney Earthmoving was given the job of designing and building the three-pond system, and work got under way in October 2012.

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1: An aerial view of the Carew Storage Farm area, parallel to Withnells Road, before the ambitious storage area was formed. 2: Water in the recently commissioned ponds shows the full extent of the three-pond project. 3: Culverts are laid to connect a water race to the pond. 6: The geomembrane lining is lowered into place, stretched and secured to the walls and (6) laid along the base of the ponds.

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from page 3 Mr Tait said this was the most time consuming part of the project. “Rooney’s brought in overseas experts – it was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, lining projects in the world at the time,” he said. The decision to line the ponds was made early on, to get the increased depth necessary to store more water. “The deeper you go the more water is lost through the shingle, we want to use it on

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“When we know the water is there, we only irrigate when we need to,” he said. “We can hold the water in the (plant) root zone, so there is no leaching.” Water is diverted into the ponds from the existing main supply race when flow levels in the Rangitata River reach a specified level. It will then be gravity-fed into the shareholders network on an equal equity basis when river restrictions come into play.

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farms, not watch it leak away,” MHIL director and farmer shareholder David Mavor said. No leakage was also a condition of the project’s resource consent. The storage farm will provide a reliable water supply for the 150 farmers on the scheme, irrigating some 32,000 hectares, when the Rangitata River is on summer restrictions. Mr Mavor said reliability was the key to increased efficiency in water use, and improved environmental performance.

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4: The pond is shaped and compacted before the lining is laid in what was one of the biggest lining projects in the world at the time. 5, 7: The geomembrane lining is lowered into place, stretched and secured to the walls andlaid along the base of the ponds while other sections are shaped and prepared (7).

PHOTOS MAYFIELD HINDS IRRIGATION SCHEME

The ponds hold sufficient water to offset a 20 per cent river restriction for 21 days. Inflow, inter-pond flow, and an outlet culvert – which lets water back into the race, can be remotely controlled by way of automated hydraulic gates. Mr Tait said water could be diverted back into the Rangitata River in an emergency, however, as the farm was not a natural water storage area it was an unlikely scenario. While construction ran

slightly over time, it came in on budget, which Mr Tait said was a non-contestable point from the get go. “We hoped to have been ready to catch the spring flushes in the river, but luckily we had a couple of later flushes which helped,” Mr Tait said. “Now it’s there it will be there for a hundred years – it’s a win:win for everybody. “Reliable irrigation uses less water, as it’s only used when required.” In future years the storage

ponds will come into their own when the Rangitata River goes onto restrictions, usually in January or February. In the interim, plans are in place to landscape the area and grass down the embankments, which will also act to stabilise the dams. While the public won’t have open access, provisions have been made for a platform, where stunning views of Mt Peel reflecting in the top pond can be enjoyed, and the enormity of the project appreciated.

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now

Lake Opuha is at record low levels.

has relatively few examples of alpine-fed water storage systems and most were built for hydro-generation – the Waitaki and Clutha Rivers for example.

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But we have plenty of river and lake systems which could provide the basis for new water storage. Several years ago, the

Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS) looked at potential water storage sites coming up with 20 options for the region based on 12 storage reservoirs. The CWMS Stage 3 final report concluded large scale water storage, with the community’s backing following consultation, was necessary for Canterbury’s future. “Current approaches to river management do not adequately protect flow variability and the water storage options proposed would lead to substantially reduced flow variability in some rivers at, or near, minimum low-flow for much of January through March.” South Canterbury’s current dire situation was predicted with chilling accuracy. “The South Canterbury evaluation confirmed how ‘water short’ the area is unless it can access water from alpine rivers (Waitaki and Rangitata Rivers). The current Opuha scheme is unlikely to meet demand from its existing irrigators in all years. In very dry years, like 1988, the lake may not refill in autumn/winter

leading to irrigation restrictions of three months or more.” Tony McCormick, CEO of Opuha Water Ltd, is at the forefront of the fight to ensure irrigation water can be eked out this season. Farmers irrigating from Opuha have just been placed on 50 per cent water restrictions and warned to prepare for tighter limits. He says alpine water fed into the Opuha system is the only way to guarantee a high reliability of supply year in and year out. “We must look to accessing alpine water if we are to realise the full potential of reliable irrigation in our region.” For IrrigationNZ, this summer highlights again the need to move on alpine-fed water storage infrastructure. Despite the focus upon irrigation development over the past five years New Zealand has made very limited progress on storage. We have invested heavily in modernising and developing our irrigation distribution systems but have failed to invest in alpine water storage to our detriment. It’s almost as if we’ve lost sight of the prize that reliable alpine-fed

irrigation water storage could bring to both the environment and economy. Certainty of water supply allows investment in SMART irrigation technologies that greatly improve nutrient management and production. There are also direct benefits from storage including the augmentation of summer river flows or being able to release flushing flows that cleanse rivers of summer algal growth. The investment hurdle, a small group of progressive irrigators being expected to fix today’s environmental issues which are largely the result of yesterday’s decisions, whilst providing for future generations, just doesn’t stack up. The only way we’re going to realise New Zealand’s water potential is through the community co-investing alongside irrigating farmers. Irrigators need to pay their way but the community also needs to be making an investment in its future resilience. Column from Irrigation New Zealand CEO Andrew Curtis

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Plenty of feed around – McBeth Soils are drying out fast around the country, but above the ground it’s a different story, with grass and feed supplies looking good in many parts of the country, says industry body DairyNZ. General manager of extension, Craig McBeth, says DairyNZ is closely monitoring the soil moisture and feed levels in all regions in case it needs to quickly ramp up support for farmers having a dry summer coming on top of a low seasonal milk price. “It is already severely dry in parts of Canterbury and North Otago and farmers there are facing serious measures with some irrigation restrictions now in place. “The south of the Wairarapa is also very dry. The soil moisture data is also showing us that the rest of the country is on the brink of heading into dryer than average soil moisture conditions. We need to see some rain soon to reduce the risk of a normal dry summer turning into something more serious,” he says. “While we know it could

Craig McBeth

get very dry, very fast, it’s a positive story in terms of feed supply. “It’s pretty green out there on many farms because we had great grass growth in November and December and into January in some parts. Recently, it’s also been great growing conditions for maize.

“In most regions farmers have already made and stored a lot of supplementary feed like hay, grass silage and baleage. “There’s no shortage of feed around at present on-farm or in storage, in most parts of the country. In Taranaki there’s probably a surplus of

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supplementary feed. “On the other hand Southland farmers have struggled to grow and harvest surplus feed due to an extended period of very wet conditions through late winter and spring. “The good news is there will be plenty of feed to get farmers through dry conditions if we don’t get rain. However, the issue may be a lack of cash around to pay for it if farmers have to buy it in or cover the cost of transporting the feed to where it is most needed,” he says. “The low forecast milk price is already putting pressure on farmers’ budgets for this season.” Mr McBeth says farmers have learnt a lot through past droughts and have plenty of techniques for managing the supply of feed to their cows to keep up with the demands of keeping them in good condition. “Keeping your cows in good condition isn’t just for milk production. It is also vital for ensuring they calve without any difficulty later in the

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year and have every chance of getting back in-calf next spring. Our dairy cows are incalf now as well as milking,” he says. He says DairyNZ is using its regional staff to monitor farming conditions, provide support and advice, and ensure experienced farmers can pass on advice and tips to others who may be new to farming or to a region. Farm system specialists are also monitoring conditions closely to help inform farmers. “There is plenty of industry and farmer support out there to help everyone. It’s important farmers know that – and where to go for advice. Our ‘Tactics for Tight Times’ campaign to help farmers cope with a low payout is also going to be focused on all the issues that farmers might have to deal with including summer dry conditions and extra feed costs.” DairyNZ advice and guidance on summer management is available on www.dairynz.co.nz including a dry summer management guide that can be downloaded.

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Looking back to improve future BY DAIRY BUSINESS CENTRE (NZ) LIMITED Cows have been evaluated a lot over the years on their performance and fertility, with the focus being mostly on productivity without looking at the long-term effects. Key performance indicators are general health, fertility, production and age. If, or when, a dairy cow is not conforming to the standard set by the farmer she is sold, or quickly culled, and forgotten. However long-term thinking is important on a dairy farm. When focusing on performance we should not only focus on what is happening now, we need to know what is going to happen in the future and, more importantly, what has happened in the past. Many models can predict productivity and profitability in the future, however that is still an estimate. What we know and what in fact happened in the past is now history. We need to learn from the past and evaluate the information to improve ourselves and the farming operation for the future. That is why it is important to monitor and record all relevant information and use this during weekly, monthly, bi-annual and annual evaluations.

Body condition scoring is important to dairy farmers for any breed of dairy cow. Recording the condition score of the individual cow bi-monthly will show the progress that specific cow has made over her lactation. Used in conjunction with her production and overall health, paints a clearer picture of her long-term performance. This method is preferable rather than whole herd scoring, which is useful but

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provides fewer details. Whole herd scoring could be done monthly to track trends between individual scoring periods. The benefits of having a good condition at calving, of between 5.0 and 5.5 points, are generally known to all in the industry. We know that cows perform better earlier in the season when calving at optimum body condition. We also recognise that there is a difference between gaining body condition, quickly over a short time during the dry period only, or slower over the longer period during the lactation. It is quite common to see a fast decline in body condition after calving, before gaining again slowly before the start of mating and then finding a decline in December (when the pasture quality is reduced) after which condition increases again in February. These fluctuations are not the optimal or advised curves for a dairy cow, especially due to the negative effect on fertility, milk production and general wellbeing. We know that when a cow eats more energy than she needs, she can either not use this energy or deposit it in her body reserves, which in this case are shown by the increase in body condition. That means we can use the body condition as an indicator to determine if the cow is receiving enough energy in her feed for her requirements or if she is getting too much energy. If a cow is gaining condition too fast, save cost by reducing the energy intake and if the cow is not gaining enough condition or is losing condition, feed her more energy by either increasing the energy density of the ration or increasing the quantity of feed in general, ensuring a healthy body condition gain. From the moment the cow is gaining condition before mating, she needs to gain condition slowly and steadily until the cow is dried off at the optimal score of between 5.0 and 5.5 points. This results in the cow being less stressed, fed adequately and able to perform to the best of her ability. That is why a regularly scheduled individual condition scoring over the whole herd is advised, with no more

than two months in between each evaluation. We also know that when a cow is fluctuating in condition score, she will be holding back milk production in preference to her maintenance. Although breeding has reduced this urge of self-preservation, it is our experience that we can achieve the best productivity and profitability of the cow when the stress of the cow is minimised by having an even gain in body condition score. Over the dry period the condition score gain should not exceed 0.10 points per month. This is to ensure the cows don’t get too fat at calving, preventing health problems like dystocia, ketosis and or milk fever. When cows are at optimal condition at drying off we only need to feed the required maintenance to the dry cows. The conditioned cows are well insulated against the weather, while feeding to hold condition minimises the cost of the dry period and provides easy management with less total feed required. After calving we expect a slow condition loss over several weeks, which is providing extra energy to the animal. If the cow is losing condition too fast, it increases the risk of milk fever, ketosis, fatty-liver and in severe cases death. It is very costly to feed the cow during the lactation, look after her over the dry period and then have her not performing after calving due to health issues or death - we did the hard yards and got no rewards. For example when we look at the individual cow, we want her to calf down at a score of 5.0. Weight loss will occur over the next two months, with the body condition score not going below 4.0 points. Then for the following eight months we like to see her gain about 0.1 of a point per month, which will work out between 150-200 grams of body weight per day until she reaches the score of 5.0 points at drying off. If your weight loss post-calving exceeds 1.0 points in condition score, serious evaluation of your spring management is required. Dairy Business Centre (NZ) Limited recommend that you score cows individually (rather than a ‘whole herd score’) every two months and track the information to assess the trend and correct your pasture and feeding management accordingly. This will ensure the cows are dried off at the optimal condition score of between 5.0 and 5.5 points. If you haven’t yet condition scored this season, score the cows now to plan ahead until drying off, determine where the monthly targets need to be and how to achieve this. For more information on the benefits of lead feeding and preparing your herd for calving, either talk to your nutritional advisor or contact the Ruminant Nutrition Consultancy team at Dairy Business Centre (NZ) Limited on 03 308 0094, email office@dairybusiness.co.nz. Advertising feature


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Farmers reminded to irrigate At a time of increasingly dry weather and low river flows, Environment Canterbury is reminding farmers to make sure they irrigate efficiently when they are permitted to do so. Environment Canterbury regional manager RMA monitoring and compliance Marty Mortiaux, said irrigation consent holders were responsible for the use of water applied to their properties. “Beyond this, it makes good business sense to do the right thing for their communities and the region as a whole,” Mr Mortiaux said. “All irrigators should make sure their water allocations are used carefully and not wasted, especially in a dry season.” There are a number of steps farmers can take to make the most of potentially limited irrigation opportunities: Plan ahead for possible water restrictions - if you depend on irrigation, decide on your priorities (for example, crops vs pastures or good pastures vs poor pastures) and develop a plan to minimise the

impacts of water restrictions Make sure you understand the different soils on your property and their waterholding capacities Understand how to successfully operate and maintain your irrigation system and calibrate your irrigators regularly Schedule irrigation responsibly – for example, consider the probability of any forecast rain and either hold off or adjust the depth applied Meet compliance requirements – make sure your water meter is operating at all times and check that your use is within consented rates and volumes (water meter information will also help you work out how much your irrigation is costing you) Avoid irrigating non-target areas – particularly roads, waterways and boundaries. “Check the weather forecast before irrigating. If rain is forecast hold off or adjust the amount of water you apply to take advantage of it,” Mr Mortiaux said. “And if possible also avoid irrigating

in strong winds because this affects uniformity and can make scheduling your next irrigation challenging. “Check weather forecasts regularly to confirm the daily potential evapotranspiration figures for your area. This

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an easy way to confirm it is operating as it should be. Also cross check your expected flow rate with the rate displayed on your flow meter and make sure sprinklers are not blocked or missing. “Carry out regular

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efficiently All irrigators should make sure their water allocations are used carefully and not wasted, especially in a dry season, says Environment Canterbury regional manager RMA monitoring and PHOTO ASHBURTON GUARDIAN compliance Marty Mortiaux.

maintenance on your irrigation system to minimise wastage and leakage. If you see someone else wasting water or not complying with the rules, let them know. “Set up and run your system to ensure that all

water abstracted is within the limits set out by your resource consent or scheme entitlement. This may include your instantaneous abstraction rate and daily, weekly, monthly or seasonal volume. “Finally, have your water

meter verified to make sure what is being recorded is what you are actually using. And critically in the current conditions, if your consent is tied to a low flow restriction check the Environment Canterbury irrigation

restriction web page daily when you are planning to irrigate to see whether your consent is on restriction.” IrrigationNZ says there is plenty of technology to help refine irrigation application and the industry body can help irrigators wishing to check their current system’s performance. “Farmers can sign up to our SMART Irrigation programme which sets out the framework for responsible and efficient irrigation practice,” IrrigationNZ chief executive Andrew Curtis said. “In a summer like this,

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BDD needs to be taken seriously Fred Hoekstra

VEEHOF DAIRY SERVICES

You may have heard of Bovine Digital Dermatitis (BDD) and how it is a major problem overseas. You also may have heard that we now have BDD in New Zealand. Unfortunately, that is true. We have certainly seen an increase of BDD in the last six years or so. Most of it, so far, seems to occur in the North Island and in Southland. There are still a lot of unknowns about the disease, but we do know that we need to minimise or eliminate it if we can. Over in Europe, and especially in the UK, it is a significant problem causing a large percentage of lameness in the herd. The picture shows what the disease looks like in a non-

Do you have any BDD in your herd? PHOTO SUPPLIED

contagious stage, however there are different stages to the disease. At this stage the treponemen (bacteria) are deep in the skin where disinfectant can’t get to it from the outside and antibiotics can’t get to it from the inside, which in itself is not a problem until it reappears. This reappearance is a different stage. There are four different stages to the disease,

with another stage that is made up of two of these stages together, which makes it four stages in all. I can’t do justice to this problem in a short article, so please feel free to call me if you want to know more about BDD. What I do want to mention in this article though, are a couple of things that you should do when you do find it in your herd. 1-Check the rest of the herd

as soon as possible by having a designated person look for it very closely at milking time. You need to clean the skin in that area of the foot and each case you find needs to be individually treated with Tetra-Vet. 2-Possibly use a foot bath as a preventative. This can also be done with a backpack sprayer and using some product that is specially made for it. You can use

formalin if you have a foot bath installed, but formalin is quite aggressive and is not conducive to staff well-being. 3- You could also consider culling the cow that has the disease. Once a cow has contracted BDD, she will not get rid of it even if the foot looks perfectly healthy. The treponemes remain in the skin and this cow becomes a threat to the rest of your herd. This would essentially work if you only have one or two cases on the farm. However, if you have larger numbers then it would be too late anyway, and culling the diseased cows may only be the tip of the iceberg. The disease is mainly spread through manure and transporting animals. This in itself is quite a challenge in NZ as most young stock are taken off farm and farmers who are buying in animals are more vulnerable as well. If you have any questions or would like a brochure with full information on the disease, please give us a call on 0800 833-463, as this is a disease that needs to be taken seriously!


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13

Accurate refrigeration data helps farmers Thorough audits of dairy refrigeration systems are needed now says Brian Skiffington, R&D and Technical Manager for Tru-Test. Brian, who works within Tru-Test’s DTS Milk Cooling and Tank Solutions category, urges farmers to heed any refrigeration system issues in their dairy shed. “At this time of year, with high peak milk flows, summer temperatures and warmer ground water, farmers across the region find their on-farm refrigeration systems put to the test.” “Any difficulties meeting current milk temperature requirements this season should signal concern around their capability to meet the tighter regulations for temperature falls and holding temperatures under the new code NZCP1 Code of Practice for milk pre-cooling and storage coming into force next year.” Compliance rules initially apply to new sheds, major upgrades, and those which are regularly non-compliant. Industry estimations suggest nearly one-third of farmers may be noncompliant. The latter will be under the spotlight with some dairy companies intending to impose a schedule of fines and refusal to pick up. Rather than risk financial disadvantage, Brian recommends farmers get accurate farm-specific data to pinpoint if and where cooling issues

occur and focus what work needs to be completed before the regulations take effect. Brian points to the experience from DTS milk cooling audits undertaken across dairy farms since the beginning of the 2014-15 season. The news is ultimately good. “In many instances, accurate and continuous data-tracking highlights unnoticed system issues. Results can surprise some farmers. Nevertheless, while the scale of upgrade work varies between farms, often one small timely change in the right place can make a big difference.” “Several options are available for pre-cooling and storage solutions and there is no ‘one-system-fits-all’. The key is talk to a reputable refrigeration provider and invest wisely,” he says. Farmers installing new or upgraded systems can also make simple additions so refrigeration systems run more efficiently and recoup energy costs. Fitting a good-quality hot water recovery system to the refrigeration unit can save more than 50 per cent of water heating costs and a goodquality insulated polar wrap can reduce long-term operating costs, shortening the running time for chiller units and maximising hot water temperatures for the CIP wash and vat cleaning. Advertising feature

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From dual purpose to multi-purpose Dairy farmers throughout New Zealand will benefit from recent research undertaken by Dr (Paul) Long Cheng and Dr Jeffery McCormick from the Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Lincoln University. Dr Cheng and Dr McCormick found that dairy replacement heifers grazed on dual purpose cereal and brassica crops such as wheat and canola achieved higher weight gains and caused less environmental pollution through reduced urinary nitrogen excretion than heifers grazed on conventional pasture. “Every year farmers needed to rear dairy heifers as replacements for their milking herds as part of their farm management routines,” says Dr Cheng. “Providing adequate high quality feed for these heifers is crucial, so they can reach their target live weights at critical stages of their growth and development. Their ability to reach these target live weights has significant implications for their successful mating and milk production

in the subsequent lactation. We also know that rearing dairy heifers contributes to the environmental impact of dairy production, particularly nitrogen leaching, through the excretion of urinary nitrogen.” To find the solutions to these challenges, Dr Cheng and Dr McCormick, and their team undertook a trial to examine if feeding the heifers different types of forages such as dualpurpose crops, like cereals and brassicas, would increase their live weight gains and reduce urinary nitrogen excretion. A dual purpose crop is one that is grown in summer/ autumn to be grazed as forage before continuing to grow before being harvested for grain production. Dr Cheng’s trial involved using three groups of dairy heifers that were equally matched for live weight and their genetic ability as breeding cows (breeding worth based on the records of their relatives). Each group was randomly allocated and fed a different type of forage – a pasture (perennial ryegrass/white clover), a cereal (wheat) and a

brassica (canola). “At the end of the trial, and once we had done the analyses, we were delighted to discover that heifers grazing on either wheat or canola showed increased live weight gains and lower urinary nitrogen excretion to the environment in comparison to the pasture-feed animals,” says Dr Cheng. During the four-week trial regular measurements were taken from the three forages (for quality analysis) and the uptake of the forages by the heifers themselves (shown by increased live weights and reduced urinary nitrogen excretion).  “This type of regime had been used in Australia for over 20 years on mixed cropping farms, but this is the first time it has been used for dairy replacement stock in New Zealand. Australian farmers have found that the timing and intensity of grazing is important because if the animals graze for too long the plants’ reproductive growing tips can be damaged resulting in a loss of grain production,” says Dr McCormick.

“That these dual purpose crops haves been shown to have an additional environmental benefit is an exciting discovery and will benefit dairy farmers throughout New Zealand. Local farmers are already interested in trialling these

crops with their heifers,” says Dr Cheng and Dr McCormick. The scientific team includes Dr Cheng, Dr McCormick, Professor Grant Edwards and Chris Logan, from Lincoln’s Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences. In addition, scholars

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from France and Thailand were involved in crop management and sample collection. This research has been presented at the 2014 Australasian Dairy Science Symposium and was well received.

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Grazing heifers on canola (above) and wheat (left) was found to achieve higher weight gains and caused less environmental pollution.


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Low flows lead to bacteria warnings While river flows around the region remain low, cyanobacteria warnings will remain in place at a number of Canterbury swimming sites. Surface Water Science manager Tim Davie said there had not been sufficient rain to alleviate the problems, brought about by the prolonged dry spell. “The long dry period has meant many rivers have irrigation restrictions in place, and has also led to problems with cyanobacteria at several popular swimming spots. Warnings are in place at 11 swimming sites, eight of which are in South Canterbury,” Dr Davie said. “Cyanobacteria such as phormidium grow well during long dry periods where there are low flows and warm temperatures.  Unfortunately this growth can proliferate into toxic mats that detach.” Environment Canterbury works closely with the Canterbury District Health Board and territorial authorities to make sure warnings are in place at popular swimming sites. 

However, phormidium is also likely to be present elsewhere. Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Alistair Humphrey said the algae look like dark brown to black mats and can produce toxins harmful to people and animals. “Exposure may cause skin

rashes, nausea, stomach cramps, tingling and numbness around the mouth and fingertips,” Dr Humphrey said. “If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your doctor immediately; also let your doctor know if you’ve had contact with dark brown/

black algal mats or water in affected areas. Pets should be taken to a vet immediately if they show signs of illness after coming into contact with algal mats.” Reticulated town water supplies are safe but people should not drink water from

rivers with phormidium present. “Even boiling river water does not remove the toxin, so it should not be consumed,” Dr Humphrey said.  Benthic cyanobacteria such as phormidium are naturally occurring throughout New Zealand.  When they proliferate they are cleared out by flushing flows from high flows (from small to larger floods). A lack of flushing flows and sustained warm weather means ideal growing conditions for phormidium. There is information on toxic cyanobacteria on the Environment Canterbury website, including a list of river sites where there are warnings in place. For information on cyanobacteria in rivers go to http://ecan.govt.nz/services/ online-services/monitoring/ swimming-water-quality/ Pages/Potentially-ToxicCyanobacteria.aspx For current river flow information go to www.ecan. govt.nz/services/onlineservices/monitoring/riverflows/Pages/River-flowssouth.aspx

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Maintaining productivity in hot weather Hot and humid weather affects the dry matter intake of lactating dairy cows. The combined effects of elevated ambient temperatures and humidity can make for an uncomfortable environment, particularly for high producing dairy cows. These higher producing dairy cows have greater metabolic heat production – the heat energy that is produced from digestion than lower producing cows. BY SEALESWINSLOW Heat stress occurs when the cow’s ability to dissipate excess body heat is compromised because the environmental temperature is high. Humidity further impacts this by affecting the cow’s ability to cool herself by sweating and panting.

The three signs of heat stress in lactating cows are obvious: • lethargic behaviour • reduced feed intakes • reduced milk production The primary reason for the drop in milk production during hot and humid weather is that the cows eat less. Minimising the environmental effects on dry matter intake (DMI) is critical to maintaining productivity in times of heat stress. This response is thought to be a survival mechanism as digesting and processing nutrients generates further heat. Ensuring cows have ready access to fresh, clean water and lots of it is paramount. Since cows will be consuming less as temperatures rise, increasing the energy density of the diet can in part compensate for the decreased DMI. To increase the energy density of the diet, consider providing a suitable fat source, eg a coated or bypass fat and/or offer feeds, such as

SealesWinslow Maxi Pro 20%, that produce less heat from digestion. Heat production increases following a meal. This is a result of the heat energy from fermentation and heat of nutrient metabolism. Different types of feeds produce varying levels of heat from their digestion, largely because of the efficiency of utilisation. Fibre produces more heat in the rumen than other

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Be pro-active and stock up on winter Mid Canterbury farmers are being urged by Federated Farmers to do the numbers and stock up on necessary feed supplies to get through winter. The call comes as dry weather around the country continues with limited relief in sight. Federated Farmers South Island vice chairman arable, and Mid Canterbury farmer, David Clark urged farmers to do their sums and stock up on necessary feed. “We are in a bit of a dry spell, which is not unusual for Canterbury, we just haven’t seen if for a while.” “How long it lasts will decide whether it becomes a significant drought or not,” he said. He recommended farmers did their feed budget, worked out the amount they needed to get livestock through to September and then secured the feed. There was no point waiting until May or winter for spring feed supplies. “If you need it, secure it.” He said there was plenty of feed to go around with harvest rye grass and barley grass

available. “It’s never better than when it is on the ground in behind the compost … just grab it.” Federated Farmers Mid Canterbury grain and seed chairperson Joanne Burke agreed. She said there were indications of a looming feed crisis and people should be out there now trying to secure feed. The dryland yields were expected to be down four tonne a hectare, she said. DairyNZ general manager of extension Craig McBeth said their organisation was closely monitoring soil moisture and feed levels in all regions in case it needed to offer support for farmers having a dry summer, on top of a low seasonal milk price. “It is already severely dry in parts of Canterbury and North Otago and farmers there are facing serious measures with some irrigation restrictions now in place. The south of the Wairarapa is also very dry. The soil moisture data is also showing us that the rest of the country is on the brink of heading into dryer-

Lack of rain is starting to tell on this Mid Canterbury farm.

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handling any ongoing dry conditions as irrigation was being done to its limits. “They are trying to push the irrigating as hard as they can,” she said. DairyNZ consulting officer Erin Sinclair said that in Canterbury some people looked great but others were in tough situations.

She reminded dairy farmers to get in touch with contractors expected to take young stock for winter grazing just to check on the condition of their properties. And suggested farmers remained pro-active to the conditions, either reducing demand and culling cows early or drying off animals

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19

feed

with a better body score condition. It was also important to keep in touch with others, especially within the community. “You might be good but your neighbour 10km up the road might not be, give them a bell,” she said. Overall, the dry conditions were seen as positive for feed

supply around the country but it was likely to be the cost of cartage that became an issue. “It’s pretty green out there on many farms because we had great grass growth in November and December and into January in some parts. Recently, it’s also been great growing conditions for maize,” Mr McBeth said.

Most farmers had already made and stored a lot of supplementary feed like hay, grass silage and baleage. “There’s no shortage of feed around at present on-farm or in storage, in most parts of the country.” In Taranaki there’s probably a surplus of supplementary feed. On the other hand

Southland farmers have struggled to grow and harvest surplus feed due to an extended period of very wet conditions through late winter and spring,” he said. The issue might be a lack of cash around to pay for cartage if farmers have to buy it in or cover the cost of transporting the feed to where it is most needed, he said. “The low forecast milk price is already putting pressure on farmers’ budgets for this season.” Past experience had taught farmers plenty of techniques to manage the supply of feed to their cows and keep them in good condition. “Keeping your cows in good condition isn’t just for milk production. It is also vital for ensuring they calve without any difficulty later in the year and have every chance of getting back in-calf next spring. “Our dairy cows are in-calf now as well as milking,” he said. DairyNZ was using regional staff to monitor farming conditions, provide support and

advice, and ensure experienced farmers could pass on advice and tips to others who may be new to farming or to a region. Farm system specialists were also monitoring conditions closely to help inform farmers. “There is plenty of industry and farmer support out there to help everyone. “It’s important farmers know that – and where to go for advice. Our Tactics for Tight Times campaign to help farmers cope with a low pay-out is also going to be focused on all the issues that farmers might have to deal with, including summer dry conditions and extra feed costs.” DairyNZ offered advice and guidance on summer management on their website at www.dairynz.co.nz In Mid Canterbury, Mr Clark – with his arable hat on – hoped it stayed mostly dry for another month. However, a bit of rain would not go amiss. “I’d be jolly grumpy if I had to dry my grain,” he said. Advertising feature

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2 20

Farming Dairy Focus

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Reduce feed waste There are many advantages to using a baleage or hay feeder. In these dry times in Canterbury and beyond it is even more important to manage feed effectively and minimise waste. In the colder months of the year, stock will always be on the look out for a warm dry place to lay. If feed is turned out onto the ground that’s where they will usually head, making it dirty and unpalatable. Using a feeder not only stops this but can reduce feed wastage to as little as 5%. Not to mention the huge advantage in the spring when it comes to clean up and prep of paddocks before reseeding. No lines of baleage across the paddocks to clean up or clog up machinery which in turn reduces labour. Reducing waste by using our feeders also means reducing time feeding out and in turn feeding less often. We provide a wide range of feeders in all shapes and sizes for every budget. Made from 3mm premium mild UK and European steel, you can be assured you are

getting the best quality for your dollar. Riverdown Steel is a family owned business run from a working farm so we are always using our own products and can help advise which

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www.guardianonline.co.nz

21

New Zealand’s newest PKE importer ADM the world’s largest supplier of Palm Kernel Expeller (PKE) is now entering into the second year of business selling direct to New Zealand farmers. ADM New Zealand is a fully owned subsidiary of one of the world’s largest agriculture processors Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM). For more than a century ADM has transformed crops into products that serve vital needs of a growing world and has grown to more than 33,000 employees serving customers in more than 140 countries on six continents. With a global value chain that includes more than 470 crop procurement locations, 285 ingredient manufacturing facilities, 40 innovation centers and the world’s premier crop transportation network, we connect the harvest to the home, making products for food, animal feed, chemical and energy uses. While PKE is ADM New Zealand’s largest product by volume, the company also imports other products

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often directly from their own manufacturing facilities including Distiller’s Dried Grain with Soluble (DDGS) and Corn Gluten Feed Pellets (CGFP). Other products available are Tapioca and Canola Meal. ADM New Zealand currently has PKE available ex-Timaru, with other product availability subject to level of demand. ADM New Zealand’s

business is built around this direct sourcing of products from origin, as it gives the company a cost competitive supply chain and the most transparent market information. This unfiltered market information allows ADM customers to make the best informed purchasing decisions. General Manager ADM New Zealand Ross Bowmar says “this approach has been welcomed by NZ

farmers to date as illustrated by the significant number of new customers in the first year of farmer direct business”. ADM can be contacted on the easy to remember number 0800-123-PKE. You will connect with Ashburtonbased contact Sid Russell, ADM’s South Island Manager, who has been with the company since its inception. Alternatively for more

information you can email nz@adm.com. All ADM New Zealand asks for is that when you are next making a feed purchasing decision you call ADM to ensure that you are obtaining competitive prices with the best service by dialing 0800123-PKE. Alternatively, both Sid and Ross will be on site at the South Island Fieldays in late March. Advertising feature

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2 22

Farming Dairy Focus

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Big dry begins to make its presence While there are no immediate plans to declare drought in Canterbury, parts of the region are certainly in the grips of a “big dry”. However, officials are keeping close tabs on the situation, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said, following a meeting with affected farmers in Mid Canterbury last week. High temperatures and a lack of rainfall in recent months have caused an early dry patch. Federated Farmers’ national president William Rolleston said Canterbury farmers were well positioned to cope with dry weather and drought, but this year it had hit earlier than usual. Dr Rolleston, who farms inland from St Andrews, said farmers were shifting stock off properties and hunkering down to survive the next few weeks. Mid Canterbury farmer Chris Allen, on whose farm the meeting took place, talked about the contingency plans he has put in place to weather the big dry. He said the situation was compounded by a very wet autumn, which severely impacted on last year’s harvest. In many instances the ground

Michelle Nelson

RURAL EDITOR

was too wet to sow autumn cereal crops, which didn’t go in until spring. These crops had now been stunted by the hot, dry weather. Due to restrictions on irrigation water, Mr Allen was only able to operate one of the four irrigators usually at work on his Ashburton Forks property. The next problem would be re-sowing after harvest. “There’s no point putting seeds in when it is this dry,” he said. Most farmers are already facing irrigation restrictions as water levels drop. Farmers are de-stocking and using feed supplies. In the Fairlie district there are reports that dairy herds have already been dried off. continued next page

From left: Mid Canterbury farmer Chris Allen, Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy and Federated Far Rolleston discuss the tactics necessary to survive a drought.

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23

felt on Mid Canty farms

rmers’ national president William PHOTO DONNA WYLIE 200115-DW-040

from page 22 Mr Guy said the conditions were of concern, but at this point farmers were coping. “At this stage the Government is not planning to classify this event as a medium-scale adverse event, but we will continue to keep a close watch,” Mr Guy said following his visit. “District or regional groups need to make a formal request for any such a declaration and at this stage this hasn’t been deemed necessary. “This threshold would be reached when the lack of rainfall has an economic, environmental and social impact on farming businesses and the wider community.” However, some in the industry were ready to call a spade a spade. Most farmers are already facing irrigation restrictions as water levels drop. Farmers are de-stocking and using feed supplies. In the Fairlie district there are reports that dairy herds have already been dried off. The Opuha Lake has only enough water to support irrigation for about another

HAY COVERS

month and other schemes are operating on 50 per cent restrictions. Opuha Water Partnership CEO Tony McCormick said water storage was of concern early in the season. “There has been no significant rain since July/August, and a lack of snow,” Mr McCormick said. “From early September we made decisions to be very conservative about how we ran the scheme, keeping the lake as full as we could at the end of December. “Opuha is a river augmentation scheme – we maintain a river supply, and off the top of that supply irrigation. “From the outset we have maintained the required river flows, but from October/ November we’ve used over 30 per cent of the stored water. “The irrigation season started early. Since Christmas it’s turned into what I would describe as a drought situation. The irrigation demand has soared which is a reflection of the lack of rainfall. The lake is at its lowest level since it was built 17 years ago – this is an unprecedented situation.

“It has been nearly empty before but that was at the end of the season – and we’ve still got a fair way to go until the end of this season.” While farmers were hoping for rain soon, Mr Guy reminded rural communities that support was available through Government agencies, including the Inland Revenue Department. “I would urge farmers to make use of the good advice and support available from their local rural support trusts. They are doing a great job of coordinating farming communities and providing information,” Mr Guy said. “Unfortunately droughts are nothing new for farmers. Two summers ago we suffered through the worst drought in 70 years and last year we had severe dry spells in parts of Northland and Waikato. “It is a tough situation for many with this coming on top of a lower dairy payout. However, I know that farmers are resilient and have come through many challenges like snowstorms, earthquakes and commodity price fluctuations before.”

Meanwhile, ANZ Bank announced an assistance package for farmers affected by the extreme dry conditions. “The ‘big dry’ is affecting areas which haven’t experienced extreme conditions like these for many years, so for a lot of farmers this is new territory,” the bank’s commercial and agricultural managing director, Graham Turley, said. “We recognise the challenges and anxiety this is creating for farmers, which have been exacerbated by forecast low dairy payouts. We’re offering targeted assistance, recognising that the situation may require more complex solutions for some. “The impacts of serious weather events like this don’t just affect the farmers and their local area but will be felt right through the economy.” He advised farmers to contact their local ANZ adviser for details on the assistance package, which includes suspending loan repayments, waiving fees and interest rate reductions on certain products, and providing access to discounted short-term funding.

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Farming Dairy Focus

2 24

www.guardianonline.co.nz

A big thumbs up for Heartland Heartland Bank received a big tick from the Reserve Bank of New Zealand this week. Although Heartland received bank registration in December of 2012, the Reserve Bank imposed conditions requiring Heartland to maintain higher levels of regulatory capital than their peers. These conditions were lifted this week, putting Heartland on equal footing with other New Zealand banks. The inference we can take of this decision is that the Reserve Bank has been pleased with Heartland’s progress since gaining their banking licence. Heartland, which grew out of the merger of finance companies in 2011, has successfully managed to grow margins and earnings over its short life. We’ve also seen a consistent reduction in their legacy Non-Core Property portfolio. The Reserve Bank would have been particularly interested in Heartland management of its capital ratios, all of which were maintained in excess of

Grant Davies

A BROKER’S VIEW

regulatory minimums over the probationary period, suggesting sound and conservative management. Heartland notes that they have no intention of reducing the amount of capital currently held. This reluctance to stretch their capital too far is prudent, and will ensure Heartland maintains its BBB credit rating. Heartland’s rating agency, Fitch, requires Heartland maintain higher capital ratios than the Reserve Bank. This is another reason Heartland is in no rush to utilise its new freedom, as it would risk losing its BBB credit rating. The capital adequacy ratios required by the Reserve Bank are part of a wave of new regulations introduced around

Heartland Bank’s Ashburton branch. PHOTO ASHBURTON GUARDIAN

the world in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis. These are designed to limit the chances of banks defaulting by requiring them to keep certain levels of equity and reserves. Along with capital adequacy regulations, many regulatory authorities are requiring banks make term deposits “stickier”.

This has seen many major banks announce higher break fees and introduce 30-day notice periods before term deposit funds are made available. Heartland currently does not have an explicit notice period, but if the company does agree to early repayment the interest rate payable in

respect of your term deposit may be reduced by up to 3 per cent per annum. Considering Heartland’s relative reliance on term deposits for funding, this changing term deposit dynamic could impact demand for term deposits and therefore increase Heartland’s cost of funding. With growing earnings and an attractive dividend Heartland is still looking reasonably attractive, particularly given the low interest rate environment. The company has not put a foot wrong recently, so is gaining respect in the market, which is now being reflected in the appreciating share price. Written by Grant Davies, Authorised Financial Advisor at Hamilton Hindin Greene Limited. This article represents general information provided by Hamilton Hindin Greene, who may hold an interest in the security. It does not constitute investment advice. Disclosure documents are available by request and free of charge through www. hhg.co.nz.

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25

Maintaining reliable refrigeration Hot weather adversely affects refrigeration in several ways and it can be difficult to maintain reliable refrigeration operation during hot dry spells of weather. Excessive load is applied to refrigeration systems whenever high milk entry temperature to the milk silo or high ambient temperature conditions are present and where both are present the effect is compounded. High milk entry temperature was discussed in our last editorial and we won’t cover it again, suffice to say it is particularly important during high ambient temperature conditions to ensure the milk is cooled as much as possible prior to entering the milk silo. This will reduce the load on the refrigeration system. High ambient temperatures as we are experiencing recently cause the following effects: ■■ ■■ ■■ ■■

High condenser pressures Increased energy use Lower efficiency Longer running times

Murray Hollings

COOLING OFF

■■ Accelerated failure of developing faults

It is logical therefore to minimise these effects and we can do this by taking some precautions:

■■ Ensure the refrigeration system has free access to fresh air and there is at least 1m of clear space in front of the condenser (do not stack drums etc in this space or anywhere where it may cause the exhausted air to be recirculated back through the condenser). ■■ Keep the condenser free of dust by running a soft brush down over the fins periodically (be careful not to bend the fins when doing this) ■■ Ensure the condenser fins are kept straight and in

Heatcraft refrigeration units. effect of creating very high pressures and is normally noticed as repeated cutting out on high pressure overload. Short term you may be able to run or spray cold water on the condenser fins until normal conditions are returned. Be careful not to allow water to wet the fan motors as this may cause failure. ■■ If you need any advice ring

undamaged condition ■■ Ensure your refrigeration system(s) are professionally serviced, preferably twice annually ■■ Where very high temperatures are being experienced, refrigeration systems are often attempting to run outside of their design conditions, particularly where primary cooling is compromised. This has the

your refrigeration company who will be only too happy to help.

Refrigeration units running in extreme conditions or badly maintained are less reliable, cost more to run, slow to cool and are several times more likely to break down. Murray Hollings is the managing director of Dairycool Ltd

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2 26

Farming Dairy Focus

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Dairy farming best practice up for Synlait Milk hosted its second Lead With Pride Focus Day at a local supplier’s farm near Rakaia. The event was attended by more than 60 Synlait suppliers and rural professionals who were eager to hear about dairy farming best practice. Many of the suppliers are working through their Lead With Pride certification and found the range of information, tips and insights on offer valuable. “We want to support our suppliers who are keen to demonstrate best practice on their dairy farm,” Synlait Milk supply manager David Williams said. “This focus day is a chance for them to hear from certified suppliers and professionals about aspects of the programme that will help them on their farm.” Attendees heard from a range of speakers and rotated around four stations with a focus on each pillar of the Lead With Pride programme. John Saunders, Research Officer at Lincoln University’s Agribusiness and Economics

Unit, kicked the day off with a presentation on market place demand for best practice programmes like Lead With Pride. He reinforced that quality and farm assurances are front of mind for customers, especially in developing countries. Richard Nortje, from Rangiora Vets, oversaw the animal health and welfare station with a focus on the assessment of lameness in dairy herds and the cost to farmers. Synlait suppliers Lance and Wendy Main supported Richard by sharing their experience of lameness, including the need to maintain records and focus on identification, treatment and prevention. People Mad’s Sarah Watson discussed performance management of farm staff at the social responsibility station. Synlait supplier Wim Verberne’s experience of putting performance management measures in place provided attendees with a useful case study around implementing initiatives on farm. Maintaining top milk quality

was the focus of Synlait Farms’ Andy Millar and Athol New, on the milk quality station. They highlighted key aspects that contribute to milk quality, including the challenges of achieving a grade-free season, the benefits of excellent farm dairy and animal health practices as well as the importance of

setting goals and measuring performance against them. Synlait environmental advisor Jeremy Burgess, oversaw the environment station. Effluent system implementation was discussed in front of the farm’s above-ground effluent storage facility. Using the operational facility as a case study, Mr Burgess told attendees about

the management of the implementation process from concept to completion. “We’re happy to talk with any dairy farmers who want to lead the way in terms of best practice. It takes a lot of commitment but the benefits of becoming a certified Lead With Pride supplier are clear – you get more out of your farm and


www.guardianonline.co.nz

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2 28

Farming Dairy Focus

www.guardianonline.co.nz

Industry awards’ popularity continues The 2015 New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards has continued to attract large numbers of first-time entrants to the awards programme, which aims to help people progress their career in the dairy industry. Of the 532 entries received across the Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year, Farm Manager of the Year and the Dairy Trainee of the Year categories, 338 have entered one of the contests for the first time, national convener Chris Keeping said. The Sharemilker/Equity Farmer contest attracted 114

entries, of which 69 are new entrants. In the farm manager competition there are 94 firsttime entrants from a total of 160, and 175 entrants in the dairy trainee contest are firsttimers from the 258 entrants. “The sharemilker contest is the country’s longest running dairy farming competition and hundreds, actually more likely thousands, of sharemilkers have participated over the years. So we are rapt that the awards programme has remained relevant and attractive to new entrants each year.” continued next page

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www.guardianonline.co.nz

29

from page 28 Jeremy Duckmanton, who manages the contest’s Canterbury North Otago region with his wife Stacey, said there were 17 entries in the regional sharemilker context, 22 in the farm manager competition and 34 in the dairy trainee category. “We are really happy with the entries this year and a lot of the credit has to go our committee and sponsors that have helped encourage and support people to enter, and we have a very strong bunch of entrants with a good mix of past entrants through all competitions,” Mr Duckmanton said. “They will be busy getting their presentations prepared for the judging process which begins in February. It’s exciting and nervous times for all, but the hard work put in now reaps many rewards later.” Entrants met with sponsors earlier this month to learn more about how the competition is run and pick up some tips on how to run a

presentation. “They also met fellow entrants and the very important sponsors of the competition, it was a great chance to network with other people involved in our great industry. “There are exciting times ahead and there is a real buzz about the competition this year as demonstrated by our entrant numbers and we have

reviewing the awards programme and structure to ensure we embrace the variety of employment arrangements and trends being taken on farms,” Mrs Keeping said. “It’s also incredibly important to us that all entrants have a positive experience from entering the competitions. This may be learning some new ideas

There are exciting times ahead and there is a real buzz about the competition this year ...

the most entries in each of the three competitions throughout all 11 regions nationally.” With a theme of Passion for Progression, the awards programme has developed to assist people as they progress through the varying steps in the industry – from farm assistant to farm manager and on to sharemilking and farm ownership. “We are continually

or skills, making friends or having some fun as at the end of the day all entrants need to have gained some value from the process and we hope they will want to experience that again either in the same competition or another as they progress.” Visit www. dairyindustryawards.co.nz for more information on the awards programme.

Left – Dairy Industry Award’s Canterbury North Otago regional manager Jeremy Duckmanton. PHOTO ASHBURTON GUARDIAN 

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2 30

Farming Dairy Focus

www.guardianonline.co.nz

Are you ready for new safety act? As you’ll now be aware the Health and Safety Reform Bill has been introduced to Parliament, with the new act coming into force from midyear. Is your farm ready for the new changes? If not, you could get slapped with a big fine, or worse your staff could lose life or limb! The new bill represents a welcome shake-up to New Zealand’s health and safety landscape and this may have repercussions for farmers who are complacent when it comes to the safe use of machinery in the workplace. The H&S blueprint is set out to reduce our workplace injury and death toll by a lofty 25 per cent by 2020 and the agricultural industry with its inherent risks involving dangerous machinery and irrigation equipment can only benefit from this.

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the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. Are you an expert on every facet of this bill? We strongly suggest that farmers stay legal by consulting with their local health and safety compliance partner. They make this hassle free for you by setting up, maintaining and monitoring a fully customisable system for your farm. This is truly a minimal investment for a priceless return plus you have the peace of mind that your workplace is a safe one. Having a great health and safety system in place also positions you as an employer of choice, keeps the inspectors away from your gate and makes it easier for you to attract top farm talent

Is your farm ready for the new changes? If not, you could get slapped with a big fine, or worse your staff could lose life or limb! to take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of an employee. Aside from the repercussions to the employer, even more devastating is that this particular employee now suffers ongoing pain and acute carpal tunnel syndrome which one could argue is more detrimental than being out of pocket from a fine. Agstaff is aware of some close calls that could have been much worse, and more disturbingly, easily prevented.

in the long term. While it seems a bit redundant to remind you of this again, needless accidents still happen on our farms – let’s make 2015 safer for all of us!

A recent case study You are most likely aware of this story that garnered quite a bit of press, where Riverlands Eltham Ltd was fined nearly $58,000 and ordered to pay reparations of $15,000 after a meatworker’s hand was caught and trapped in a hoof machine. He was inexperienced, unsupervised and wasn’t properly trained to operate the equipment. They were recently sentenced under the Health and Safety in Employment Act for failing

Farm machinery – an accident waiting to happen? Employers are responsible for the health and safety of their employees and any other

people who can be harmed by the actions or inactions of their employees. Employers must, as far as practicable: ■■ Never let anyone under 15 operate machinery. ■■ Keep workers safe from hazards at work by identifying and managing hazards. ■■ Make sure work is done safely. ■■ Provide protective clothing and equipment. ■■ Train and supervise workers so they can work safely, ensuring proper training is given for each piece of equipment. ■■ Provide an accident reporting system and follow up on any accidents, injuries or near misses. ■■ Develop procedures for dealing with emergencies. ■■ Always heed manufacturers’ instructions.

If an employer can only minimise a hazard, they must monitor the environment and the health of employees at all times. Matt Jones is managing director of Agstaff

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www.guardianonline.co.nz

31

Understanding phosphorus usability Lincoln University is joining forces with a prominent Chilean university research institute to address pressing issues involving the essential role of phosphorus in global food production. Professor Leo Condron, of Lincoln University’s Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences, recently spent six weeks at the Scientific and Technological Bioresources Nucleus (BIOREN) of the Universidad de La Frontera in Temuco, Chile, as part of a Biological Resource Management Fellowship funded by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). “The fellowship involved bringing together the complementary skills of Lincoln University and Universidad de La Frontera to investigate ways of improving the usability of phosphorus in agricultural systems,” said Professor Condron. The productivity of ecosystems is largely determined by the presence of phosphorus in soil. However, the world’s known phosphorus

reserves are steadily being depleted and demand is expected to exceed supply within 100 years. Most phosphorus applied as fertiliser is retained in soil and these reserves can be used to assist with future requirements, but a large amount of this residual phosphorus is not readily available to plants. A major reason for residual phosphorus being inaccessible involves the presence of certain minerals in acid soils, particularly a clay mineral called allophane, which is volcanic in origin. Researchers from Chile and New Zealand are well-placed to investigate the issue, as volcanic soils make up about 40 per cent of agricultural land in Chile, while acidity severely limits the productivity of hill and high country soils in New Zealand, which account for 75 per cent of agricultural land. “The main objective of the fellowship was to establish a series of experiments that would investigate the use of biotechnology tools to

enhance the availability of phosphorus in a range of acid soils from Chile and New Zealand,” Professor Condron said. Following his visit to Chile from November to December last year, Professor Condron has proposed a number of formal agreements between the two universities, including a joint graduation for PhD students at Lincoln and the Universidad de la Frontera. “This will formalise research links between the institutions by allowing students to graduate from both universities if they have spent at least six months at the secondary institution,” he said. Professor Condron is now formally involved in supervising several PhD students at the Universidad de la Frontera. First year Chilean PhD students Patricia Poblete Grant and Nicole Montablan Torres will spend three months at Lincoln University from April this year, and hope to be able to return for

a further three months to be eligible for double graduation.

Lincoln University’s Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences Professor PHOTO SUPPLIED Leo Condron.

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DECEMBER, 2014

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