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Dairy Focus

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January 2014

The evil weevil

Pages 2-3

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2 Dairy Focus January 2014

Campaign against clover root weevil A

Dairy Focus An advertising publication of the Ashburton Guardian Opinions expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the Ashburton Guardian Publication date: January 28, 2014 Next issue: February 25, 2014 We welcome any correspondence to either: Michelle Nelson, phone (03) 307-7971 email: michelle.n@theguardian. co.nz Desme Daniels, phone (03) 307-7974 email: desme.d@theguardian. co.nz

tiny parasitic wasp is keeping pace with an evil weevil on its march south. The clover root weevil (CRW) was discovered in New Zealand in 1996, and is thought to have arrived in a shipping container then carried to a Waikato property on farming equipment. By 2004 it had spread throughout the North Island, and was first seen in the South Island in 2006. The impact on North Island dairy pasture was significant, resulting in substantial declines in productivity, with up to 1500 weevil per square metre detected on a Waikato farm two years after it established. AgResearch entomologist Mark McNeill said the weevil was an accomplished traveller. “It can get around long distances by hitchhiking on stock vehicles, hay and machinery – particularly at this time of the year,” he said. It also flies considerable distances, and is well adapted to populate the Canterbury plains.

Michelle Nelson RURAL REPORTER

“The conditions on the Canterbury plains are perfect; they take advantage of the nor’west winds. If you want to see weevil flying that’s a good time to do it.” Mr McNeill and fellow entomologist Dr Scott Hardwick have been tracking the spread of the weevil, which has now established in pockets in Southland on the West Coast. But luckily for farmers it often carries its own seeds of mass destruction with it – in the form of an Irish wasp, a tiny parasitoid introduced in 2006 as a biological control method. The wasp lays its eggs in the adult weevil. As soon as the young wasp hatches the weevil stops laying eggs. The wasp eventually overruns its host and

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kills it. “If it’s parasitised at the first instar, which is the larval stage – when it’s just a baby, it will fly with the weevil,” Mr McNeilll said. The wasp feeds on nectar, and is harmless to humans and other species.

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“It seems to be doing very well, it’s been very effective – the weevil population booms, the parasitoid comes along and just knocks it for a six,” Mr McNeilll said. “The weevil population collapses and the parasitoid

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Dairy Focus January 2014

3

Dealing with a clover root weevil infestation Do not attempt to re-establish clover into CRW-infested pastures by drilling or oversowing clover seed, because adult CRW prefer clover seedlings. Include white clover in the seed mix sown after full cultivation. New clover plants develop a taproot, which may be an advantage for survival

in year one. Apply nitrogen fertiliser for the clover as well as for the grass to support clover growth and survival, especially in new pasture. Additional phosphate-based fertiliser, lime and any other soil additives, will not rejuvenate clover in presence of CRW. Regrassing after cultivation does not have a lasting effect

on CRW, as adults repopulate these areas. More than 80 per cent of New Zealand dairy farmers apply nitrogen fertiliser from 25 to 200kg N/ha annually, at typical rates of 25 to 50kg N/ ha per application. While these application rates are primarily targeting a grass response they are the first and most important

step to minimise the impact of CRW on the farm business. Farmers with CRW infested pastures report improved clover growth and plant survival from small but frequent applications of nitrogen fertiliser applied year round. • From http://www.agresearch. co.nz

A clover flower emerges from pasture in a Mid Canterbury paddock.

population collapses as well.” The scientists have conducted research for a DairyNZ-funded project to determine the efficiency of the pasasitoid as a biological control method. “We are monitoring the new generation of weevils to see

where the parasitoid got to, between now and winter it will be spreading quite a lot.” Wasps have been released at 30 sites in the South Island to keep ahead of the weevil population, and are spreading at about 20 kilometres a year. Mr McNeill said the weevil was not a significant threat to the clover-seed industry in first-year stands, but can establish and cause problems in second- and third-year stands. Researchers are also looking at bio-insecticides, and developing CRW tolerant strains of clover, and clover management strategies to combat the pest.

From larvae stage to adult The clover root weevil adult is a small, speckled-brown weevil, growing up to 6mm long and is found in the base of pasture throughout the year. Numbers vary seasonally with lows in winter and summer, and highest population densities in spring and autumn. When feeding, the adult

makes characteristic U-shaped notches on the edge of the clover leaf. This damage is easily identified and different from other pests, for example, slugs and clover-flea. CRW larvae are creamy white grubs from measuring from 1mm to 6mm long, found in the root zone under white

clover plants. CRW larvae are present throughout the year, and feed only on clover roots, and associated nodules, reducing nitrogen fixation, and clover production and persistence. • From: http://www.agresearch. co.nz

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4 Dairy Focus January 2014

Bad genes identified L

The genetic variation, Fertility 1, is found in the jersey herd and causes cows to lose calves during pregnancy.

IC scientists have found a genetic variation can cause dairy cows to lose their calves through pregnancy. The variation, known as Fertility 1, has been in the New Zealand dairy cow population for more than 40 years with carrier sires identified that were born in the 1970s. Fertility 1 is a recessive genetic variation which means that both the sire and dam need to have a copy of the genetic variation before a calf will be affected – and then only 25 per cent of them. Three per cent of jersey animals carry the variation and 1.5 per cent of crossbred animals. The variation affects fertility and calf survival. Animals are thought to die in utero or are stillborn. No live animals have been seen with the variation. LIC will genotype all of its active bulls and may use carrier bulls where their genetic merit warrants use. DataMate, used by LIC AB technicians, will issue alerts to reduce the frequency of matings between two carriers

of the variation, and a genotype test will be available to farmers, wanting to test their cows, through GeneMark. DNA sequence technology allows the entire DNA profile of an animal to be mapped out. This technology has allowed LIC scientists to map and compare the DNA of many different AI sires and to identify specific differences in their DNA. Comparing the DNA sequence of a large number of sires has enabled LIC to identify a specific segment of DNA (one piece out of 3.2 billion) which is linked to the Fertility 1 variation. The discovery of the genetic variation was enabled by the sequencing dataset developed by LIC scientists and co-funded by Government through the Primary Growth Partnership. Why did LIC go looking for this variation? LIC is committed to the identification and management of genetic variations that affect the fertility and survival of dairy animals. This research is focused on several interesting variations

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Dairy Focus January 2014

Early but not definitive results identify these bulls as carriers: 94451 87429 303029 301014 74436 81447 89403 95427 89243 99506 99485 99464 87424 95280 508154 306047 508110 300129 81444 507133

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Fertility 1? The gene’s discovery has led to the development of a DNA screening test which LIC is applying to all its bulls. The test will also be made available to other genetics companies so they, in turn, can screen their bulls.

507132 – Priests Brigadier 510016 – St Peters Obsidian 308066 – Puketawa Mins Supernova 508140 – Howies Easyrider 508071 – McDonalds TweedET 510058 – Ewings Ebony 510009 – Keystone HE Orpheus 310053 – Crescent AMC Marvel 308085 – Lynbrook Opium Trail 310008 – Marsden PMS Jade 310060 – Lynbrook Super Trickster 310059 – Lynbrook HTA Trifecta ET 309090 – Kerstens KRC Ronaldo 309030 – Tawa Grove KRC Tana 513067 – Colfols Crikey 512032 – Bells Solaris Perry 511053 – Howies Arkan Ramada ET 512008 – Scotts Bravo ET LIC AB technicians use DataMate, a handheld computer which contains each farm’s herd records and into which potential matings are entered giving an alert for several factors (like inbreeding etc). Where it is possible that a cow is a carrier because of her ancestry, the use

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of DataMate will minimise carrier to carrier matings reducing the incidence of cows being infertile due to this variation. The discovery of the genetic variation means that, in time, Fertility 1 gene variation will be managed out of the national herd. What high use LIC bulls are carriers of Fertility1 gene variation? See table, left. What is the incidence of Fertility 1 in overseas dairy herds? Unknown as we have only looked at NZ animals. Will LIC make the screening test available to other genetics companies? LIC will be making the screening test available to all genetics companies with the expectation that they will test their AI sires and publish the results. How many LIC bulls have been carriers of the gene variation? About 300 sires from the past 30 years have been identified as possibly being carriers. These will be confirmed over coming months through genotyping. Will LIC remove all high-use sires from its bull teams? No. All LIC bulls are being screened for the genetic variation and any that are carriers will be clearly identified on DataMate ensuring that an alert is given to minimise the chances of a mating between a

carrier bull and a carrier cow. Will more negative genetic variations be discovered? Yes. The most recent human research in this area has confirmed that most humans carry 40 to 110 variations with negative effects. LIC expects to discover more genetic variations in dairy animals and that bovines will have a similar number of these negative gene variations. LIC is committed to researching and discovering those genetic variations because discovery provides the ability to manage them out of the national herd. Is this the first recessive gene discovered in dairy animals? No. There have been several examples of recessive undesirable genes discovered in dairy animals around the world eg CVM, BLAD, DUMPS, Brachyspina, Factor XI, Mulefoot and Small Calf Syndrome. The discovery of each genetic variation has led to the introduction of managed programmes which have significantly reduced them in dairy populations both internationally and in New Zealand. As a farmer what is the most practical course of action for me to take from here? Our advice is to continue to record the parentage of animals accurately to allow tools such as Datamate to minimise the frequency of carrier to carrier matings.

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which are observed in our sequenced animals which are then investigated to understand if they have an effect on fertility and survival. Given the low incidence rate, would many farmers have experienced this variation on their farms? In a jersey herd of 400 cows it would be expected that farmers would have had one animal affected over the past five years. What is the frequency of Fertility 1 gene variation in the average New Zealand jersey herd? The frequency in the jersey herd is about 3 per cent, so 12 carrier animals in an average herd of 400 cows. What is the frequency of Fertility 1 gene variation in the average crossbred herd? The frequency in the crossbred population is about 1.5 per cent, so six carrier animals in an average herd of 400 cows. Why doesn’t Fertility 1 gene variation exist in holstein friesians? It appears that the variation first occurred in a jersey animal at least 40 years ago. There are a small number of holstein friesian animals that do have the variation and this is due to them having jersey animals in their distant background. Are carrier cows affected? No What can farmers do to avoid matings between carriers of

5


6 Dairy Focus January 2014

Conflict over milk urea values

Milk urea (MU) values are being supplied to New Zealand dairy farmers and there is conflicting information about what the values mean. Basically, MU is an indicator of the amount of protein in the diet of the cow; generally, the more protein in the diet the higher the MU. “MU is only an indicator and is not a sensitive measure of dietary protein. This is true when dietary protein exceeds 20 per cent, as often occurs in pasture,” Dr Jane Kay, DairyNZ senior scientist, said. “Urea is a non-toxic compound that animals produce to get rid of surplus ammonia and having urea in cow’s milk is perfectly natural,” Dr Kay said.

Rumen micro-organisms digest protein and produce ammonia. Excess ammonia crosses from the rumen into the bloodstream and is transported to the liver where it is converted to urea. The urea is then released into the bloodstream and is either excreted in urine or milk.  In New Zealand pasture-based systems, MU levels are much higher than in systems where cows are fed a mixed ration. “When cows are grazing spring pasture, MU levels can be greater than 50 milligrams per decilitre (mg/dl) and, contrary to advice being given to New Zealand farmers, high MU concentrations are not detrimental to milk production, cow health or

fertility,” Dr Kay said. The high MU is because cows grazing high-quality pasture are eating more protein than they require. “To reduce MU, farmers would have to feed a lower protein diet. This requires the feeding of lowprotein supplementary feeds, which are not profitable if there is already enough pasture for the cows,” Dr Kay said.  Dr John Roche, principal scientist at DairyNZ, said farmers should be mindful of any advice on feeding supplements containing starch or sugar to “capture” more dietary protein, or that a low MU means that more protein is being captured by the cow. “Such advice shows a lack of

consideration for post-ruminal digestion and post-digestive physiology. The conclusion from New Zealand data and data from all over the world is that the reduction in MU through feeding supplements is almost exclusively through the reduction of dietary protein and not some magical capture of protein by the cow,” said Dr Roche. Although high MU is not a problem and does not need to be corrected, low MU (less than 20-25 mg/dL) may indicate that dietary protein is limiting milk production. Care is, however, needed when interpreting MU values, Dr Roche says. “As MU is not a

sensitive indicator of dietary protein it should be followed up with a laboratory analysis of feed ingredients as well as an assessment of the complete diet for adequacy of protein. Only then should any decision be made on whether to purchase high-protein feeds.” Although MU values are associated with the concentration of urinary nitrogen, lowering the MU value will not necessarily reduce environmental N loading. Other management factors, such as stocking rate, pasture utilisation, effluent management and nitrogen fertiliser, have a much larger impact on environmental N loading.

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Dairy Focus January 2014 9

Is your effluent pond getting up your nose? I

f it is, then your effluent pond has gone rotten and what you can smell, amongst other things, is Hydrogen DiSulphide (H2S), otherwise known as rotten egg gas. This occurs when the anaerobic bacteria (the bad guys) outnumber the aerobic bacteria (the good guys). Aerobic, as the name suggests, means they need oxygen to survive, and when insufficient oxygen is present the process of oxidation of your pond reverses and becomes a reduction reaction, where crusts form and sludge builds up. When this does occur, losses of 25 to 80% of the Nitrogen contained in your slurry become a reality, with de-nitrification rapidly sending your N off into the atmosphere as a gas along with other pungent pongs. The secret to preventing this unpleasant situation is to supply and feed the beneficial bacteria, which will then decompose and break down solid wastes rapidly and efficiently so they can be pumped over your effluent paddocks with ease. To work effectively, effluent ponds must be correctly managed. As anaerobic activity increases within the pond, high levels of suspended solids rise to the surface, dry out, and create crusting. These crusts also prevent oxygen from reaching the lower levels and slow the rate of manure degradation. Also, as oxygen concentration in the lower levels decrease, fermentation occurs resulting in

gaseous emission of unpleasant odours. DBC BIO-logics, a division of Dairy Business Centre (NZ) Limited, has developed proven BioEf-Ex technology for the effective management of your effluent pond. The BioEf-Ex effluent management system requires two essential, but simple, steps: BioEf-Ex Starter is applied approximately three times per annum on average. This supplies a variety of essential aerobic bacteria to re-colonise the pond with the bugs we want, and to displace the anaerobic nasties we don’t want. BioEf-Ex Maintainer is then added on a regular weekly basis, for as long as needed, to maintain the microbial balance within the pond, especially at depth where problems originate.

Before treatment.

When used as a complete system in the prescribed manner, BioEf-Ex is a highly effective way to utilise the nutrients contained in your dairy waste, whilst reducing the levels of harmful coliforms by efficiently digesting the solids that create them. For more information, or to have your pond inspected, please contact Gordon Biggs at Dairy Business Centre (NZ) Limited, phone (027) 431 5002 or contact our office on 03 308 0094, email office@dairybusiness.co.nz.

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After 5 months of BioEf-Ex treatment.


10 Dairy Focus January 2014

Investment jargon explained BY GRANT DAVIES HAMILTON HINDIN GREENE

Having all your eggs in one basket can increase your risk of exposure to financial disasters, ie, Canterbury earthquakes and the housing market.

location. It also often involves taking on more risk than most would realise (borrowing to invest can often be fraught with danger – see the property market crashes in Ireland, Spain and the United States, or the Christchurch earthquake for cautionary tales). Obviously there are benefits of directly owning an asset, however, for added diversification there are other ways of obtaining exposure to property which I will discuss in subsequent columns. If you are unsure what your risk profile is, or if you are interested in identifying what type of investor you are, please contact your adviser. In columns to follow I intend to break down the different assets classes and elaborate on each one in greater detail.

A diversified portfolio aims to avoid large fluctuations in value since many assets are negatively correlated and as a result assists with reducing risk. Some studies would suggest that up to 90 per cent of a portfolio’s return can be linked to the asset-allocation strategy. Your asset allocation should

• Grant Davies is an authorised financial adviser at Hamilton Hindin Greene Limited. This article represents general information provided by Hamilton Hindin Greene. It does not constitute investment advice. Disclosure documents are available by request and through www.hhg.co.nz.

W

hen investing, asset allocation and diversification are terms we often hear. But what do they really mean? The main factors which determine someone’s asset allocation is, first, their risk tolerance, meaning their willingness and ability to potentially lose some or all of their initial capital in pursuit of a higher rate of return. Second, their time horizon to invest, a long-term investor most probably feels more comfortable taking on extra risk than a short-term investor since they have additional time to potentially recover from any losses. Diversification is essentially what the frequently used colloquialism alludes to by not having all of your eggs in one basket. This encompasses asset class, industry sector, currency and country. For example it would be considered risky to have your entire portfolio invested solely in the technology sector, or any one sector for that matter.

therefore be reviewed on a regular basis to account for changes in your risk tolerance, personal circumstances, age and requirement for income. Reweighting of assets should be monitored in relation to the performance of the markets as during bull market periods your exposure to equities is likely to

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become overweight relative to other asset classes within your portfolio. Historically, New Zealanders’ first, second, and third options for a preferred investment has been leveraged residential property resulting in them being overweight to this one asset class and geographic

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Dairy Focus January 2014 11

WaterForce – providing irrigation solutions for the South Island region this summer The recent development of large scale water storage facilities is assisting the farmers of New Zealand to achieve the economic and social benefits that irrigation can provide.

WaterForce is a nationwide company that understands water – how it moves, how it flows and how to manage it. By partnering with world-renowned suppliers Valley and OCMIS we are able to supply the latest technology in centre pivot and hard hose irrigation. Utilising these product ranges and our in-house experience in pivot nozzle combinations, the WaterForce team can ensure optimum efficiencies of distribution with pivots, linears and booms. A lot of WaterForce’s success is to do with the product choices we have made. WaterForce along with Valley pivots and linears make it happen.

Farmers are famous for being shrewd consumers. With every dollar hard-earned from real, physical labour, they’re not going to waste it. The bottom line is value. Farmers find that value in a variety of ways when they invest in Valley equipment. That’s made Valley the leader in mechanised irrigation, and their products the first choice of farmers all across the country. Today more than ever, demands on farmers are taking centre stage from a tighter regulatory environment that reduces the amount of water available to farmers to rising land prices. Doing more with less to keep a healthy bottom line is just a way of

Recently launched SCADAfarm provides for detailed operation of Valley pivots from an App on your smart phone along with providing data from your Valley pivot operation. An App will soon be released which will allow total pump station control from your smart phone. Combining these technologies and with the highly efficient EcoPump, WaterForce can also design effluent dispersal systems that ensure optimising of your nutrient resource. The EcoPump is a total solution pump station that has a progressive cavity pump operating at twice the efficiencies of conventional pumps. Combine this with our experience gained in distributing through the pivot sprinklers, or a separate system under the pivot spans and you have a total solution for your effluent dispersal. As an INZ (Irrigation New Zealand) member, we support the initiatives of the Irrigation Code of Practice for ensuring high performance standards of designers and the Certificate in Irrigation Design (CID) which will enhance the standard of irrigation design in New Zealand. It all adds up to a company that understands the needs of its clients.

life for most farmers. This pressure has increased the need for them to implement irrigation where it wasn’t present before or convert to a more efficient form of irrigation in order to increase yields while working within the new resource restrictions. With new technology and enhanced product features from Valley, even farmers with oddly shaped fields or fields with obstructions are now able to irrigate or upgrade their irrigation to a more efficient form requiring less input of water and labour. Corner arms, benders, spinners, VRI and longer spans are all available to farms to help achieve more with less.

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12 Dairy Focus January 2014

Fertigation emerging as a complementary technology A

s farming continues to change, with pressures from all angles, fertigation is an emerging technology which can counter some of those pressures.

“This anecdotal evidence seen by farmers has been backed up by results of trial work conducted by well renowned research companies and local universities on the comparing liquid fertilisers and growth hormones with solid urea. Results show quicker response by liquids and the same or better pasture production and quality.”

stainabilityFertigation

Reducing costs of applying fertiliser,

Less soil compaction,

Reduce nutrient leaching by applying the nutrients little and often, and

Fertigation involves applying fertiliser through the irrigation system, allowing • Easier to manage grass famers to control the timing, amount production. and concentration of fertiliser applied. The technologyFertigation has been usedPump in “At the farmers using – call us to find out more. specials formoment, the next 6 weeks intensive horticulture and orchards for fertigation employ it as an integral When it comes to land and water many years with great success. part of their nutrient programme. resources, fertigation can help farmers It combines seamlessly with the Fertigation Fertigation Systems Ltd owner is an efficient method to stay within their “N” limits. By only application of, say, phosphate, sulphur Graeme Pile says the bottom line is fertilise crops, saving time and money applying what the plant requires there & lime in promoting pastoral and crop that operators can retain production, is less nutrient to be leached. Also by while improving yields. while lowering costs, resulting in better production. adding liquid Humates to the nitrogen irrigation profitability. Fertigation works with “It’s is existing an efficient way to apply the it helps keep it in the root zone where it systems. correct nutrients at the correct time to can be utilised. “Fertigation has been used on some optimise plant growth. Canterbury farms for the last five When fertigation is combined with years – and those operations have also Benefi ts are: tools, such as soil moisture sensors, seen the benefiNo ts of reduced costs and spreading costs precision irrigation and nutrient increased profitability. budgeting, farmers will find it easier to Reducing soil compaction,

Environmental issues

Mr Pile says fertigation benefits farmers through:

farm sustainably, Mr Pile says. “There will be no fertilisers being applied to sensitive areas, such as creeks, springs or rivers, or to roads and tracks that are on the farms. “Farmers can apply fertiliser when the soil is able to hold the nutrients, as the moisture level is below field capacity.” With the new Precision irrigation systems, farmers can automatically change fertiliser application rates and fertilised areas on their computer. The fertigated area is highlighted on the screen and the amount applied is automatically recorded in the database for future reference for the nutrient budget and pasture management. So in summary, if farmer want to maintain their profitability by reducing costs, farm within their nutrient limits and have better soils with happier cows, they should consider fertigation.

Precision control over where and when nutrients are applied

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Dairy Focus January 2014

Recreational interests and irrigation

BY ANDREW CURTIS IRRIGATIONNZ CHIEF EXECUTIVE

Y

ou finally made it out of the office and hit the road for a much-deserved break. Whether you towed a boat, carried mountain bikes or packed the caravan or tent for a quick escape this summer, chances are you took advantage of irrigation infrastructure. While most of us think of our waterways as natural, in reality many popular water destinations have been modified to support farming or energy production. Your summer holiday just as likely included a dip in a river or lake that helps generate electricity or waters crops as it was swimming at the local pool. Increasingly farmers and irrigation scheme managers are incorporating recreation interests when they design systems. Event managers and community groups are also recognising the potential of irrigation canals and storage ponds for fundraising and thrillseeking. The challenge for those managing irrigation infrastructure is ensuring holiday makers and adrenalin junkies can be safely integrated into operations, without impeding vital irrigation flows. We profile several irrigation schemes working with their communities to provide access to water for activities other than irrigation. South Canterbury Diabetes annual duck race held in an irrigation channel on Arowhenua Road.

New Zealand’s largest irrigation scheme, the Rangitata Diversion Race (RDR) is also one of our oldest. Depression-era labour was used initially to build the race which officially opened in 1945. Several Mid Canterbury community groups already take advantage of the RDR’s 67 kilometres of canals – most visibly the Peak to Pub, Big Day at the Office and Frostbusters multisport races. And this Easter, a new endurance horse-riding event is likely to see riders crossing the canals as part of 36 hours on horseback in the district. Ben Curry, the RDR chief executive, says it’s a balancing act providing access, as health and safety as well as operational and insurance issues, need to be taken into account. But the company tries to find ways to accommodate requests. While swimming is not allowed due to multiple potential hazards within the water (some of which are submerged), fishing, duck-shooting and cycling along the canals are permitted. A local tourism company has just been given approval to offer high-end cycle tours along the RDR close to the foothills, and the Methven Walkway, created by the local Lions group and a well-used visitor attraction, meanders along sections of the race. “We had hoped that the RDR would have been included in the National Cycleway network. It’s still an aspiration,” Mr Curry said. Lake Opuha is the jewel in the crown when promoters cite wider benefits

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Continued on page 14

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14 Dairy Focus January 2014

Fun on the water Continued from page 13 from irrigation. The man-made 700-hectare lake not only provides water for 230 farms, but as the most accessible lake in South Canterbury, is a magnet for boaties, kayakers and rowers. While rainbow trout were found in Opuha River before the dam was built, brown trout and salmon have since been released into the lake. Opuha Water Ltd chief executive Tony McCormick says since it was filled in 1998, the lake has been a popular destination for anglers and boaties. Opuha Water supports community use of the lake and its related systems where it can. Fundraising events are common and one of the most colourful is South Canterbury Diabete’s duck race held in an irrigation channel on Arowhenua Road. Fairlie Lions has run a duathalon and mountainbike event around the lake for the past two years and before that hosted fishing competitions. Farmer and Lions member Murray Bell says the lake is the perfect setting. “It’s a great facility and the location is good as it’s convenient,” Mr Bell said. As a scheme shareholder, Mr Bell says he, like other farmers

who supported the lake’s formation, is buoyed by its success. “The duathalon is such a small part of it. Any weekend you are there it’s crowded with boats and in the early mornings you watch the rowing clubs turn up.” Keith McRobie, the Timaru Rowing Club president, can vouch for Opuha’s value. “We’ve used the lake pretty much since it was filled. We are quite limited in Timaru with just a 1km stretch of water so it was a Godsend to have something developed just 45km from town.” Opuha is usually rowable year-round as it is sheltered and accessible during most weather conditions, says Mr McRobie. Having access to the lake for the past decade has improved South Canterbury’s rowing results. “The schools here punch above their weight at a regional and national level. Every year we have one or two national representatives and Opuha is part of the reason.” Discussions are under way with the irrigation company and supporters about dedicated facilities for rowing at the lake. Three Timaru schools leave boats stored on farmers’ properties but ideally a purpose-built storage shed and rowing ramp will result in the future. “We’ve had some discussions

Boaties making use of Lake Opuha.

with the company and we’re very keen to pursue. If you compare us with Auckland or any other major city, 45 minutes is not really a problem,” he says. The Lake Opuha Users Group was created when the lake was first formed to initiate extra amenities for visitors and recreational users of the lake. Committee member David Williams says its biggest project to date has been the building of a boat ramp to create safe access. Before that up to 150 cars would converge on a 300m section of lake edge that offered the easiest access. Now 90 per cent of traffic has been redirected to the boat ramp, he says. As a farmer, Mr Williams says the biggest challenge

now is ensuring the lake’s recreational popularity doesn’t impact on its delivery of water to shareholders. “One of the biggest problems for Opuha in the future could be the issue of minimum flows. Some of the recreational fraternity would like to see fluctuations in river flows. But at the end of the day it is the irrigators who are paying,” he says. Another issue, not created by recreational use, but occasionally compounded by poor behaviour by some boaties, is the spread of didymo. The irrigation scheme and recreational users will need to work together to tackle the algal bloom problem in the future, says Mr Williams. “Irrigation has provided a great facility by putting this lake here.

For the recreationalists there has been a big spin off. At the end of the day it’s been very positive for them and the economic value to our community is also positive.” The Lower Waitaki Irrigation Company prides itself on a strong relationship with its community, says chairman Chris Dennison. “We’re very keen to add benefits to the whole community and not just through the economic driver that irrigation brings.” Among its initiatives is the Take a Kid Fishing day which the company resurrected in conjunction with the Waitaki Irrigators Collective after an absence of many years. Using a shareholder’s attractive tree-lined pond already stocked with trout, 700 salmon were released resulting in happy young anglers, says Mr Dennison. “The farmer kept his pond open for several weeks after the event to allow the public to fish in a controlled environment with pretty good odds. For young people fishing is about catching fish and most of the kids went away with something for dinner.” The company has also worked with a high school to provide access for a fast-water kayaking course. Kayaking experts created the course on the scheme’s intake channel by placing obstacles within the stretch of turbulent water and hanging gates from overhead wires.

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Dairy Focus January 2014

15

Pond open to scheme shareholders I

magine having key access to a private waterway with a suite of yachts, kayaks and paddleboards available for yearround use. It’s not the lifestyles of the rich and famous, but an exciting new initiative by a group of Oamaru dairy farmers who have made sailing and kayaking accessible to anyone in their North Otago community. The farmers, all shareholders of the Lower Waitaki Irrigation Company, saw an opportunity for recreational use of a five hectare irrigation buffer pond developed just over a year ago. With the support of the irrigation company, they created the Lower Waitaki Water Sports Trust to progress the concept. While the pond was built for irrigation storage, trust chairman Richard Willans says its proximity to Oamaru, easy access and unimpeded views make it ideal for anyone wanting to learn how to sail or paddle. “It’s the safest place to get out and learn on. You can see the whole pond from any point as it’s just so flat.” Local farmers supported the project as a way to encourage greater interaction between

It’s the safest place to get out and learn on. You can see the whole pond from any point as it’s just so flat. Richard Willans Trust chairman

The Lower Waitaki Water Sports Trust’s new yachts ready for action on the irrigation buffer pond.

townies and farmers. “We want to get people from the town out into the country,” he says. Ironically, Mr Willans admits none of the trust’s committee had sailing or paddling experience before getting involved, but local boaties and kayakers have been happy to provide advice. He says they’re enthusiastic about the new water asset on their back door-

step which compares favourably to the next closest waterways, the Waitaki Lakes, which take another 40 minutes to reach. The project to date has cost more than $150,000 with the trust sourcing funding from the irrigation company, local businesses, Meridian Trust, Waitaki District Council and the Otago Community Trust. A four-bay shed for storage, fencing of the area and a car

park were completed just before Christmas and the project’s jewel in the crown is a floating jetty. For only $50 a year, key holders gain access to the pond as well as the use of 10 yachts, 15 kayaks and two paddleboards stored at the lake. Water safety measures including lifejackets and a fully inflatable motorised rescue boat are also available on-site. The Lower Waitaki Irrigation Company granted the trust a long-term peppercorn rent for the site because chairman Chris Dennison says the company sees the project as worthy. “In constructing the pond

we aimed to design structures and controls so they posed no harm to the public and the risk to users would be minimal. Working with the community on this joint venture has produced a great outcome and all this happened very quickly. “The pond was only built in late 2012 and the trust’s facilities were finished last month,” he says. Originally the pond was going to embrace day visitors such as anglers, but advice from a health and safety consultant suggested compulsory membership would safeguard its farmer-backers. You have to be a member of the trust to use the pond; however membership is open to anyone who is happy to abide by a comprehensive list of rules in place to ensure the safety of all users. An official opening of the pond will take place in the next couple of months and the trust hopes to bring unnamed Olympians to town to launch the project. • You can find out more about the Lower Waitaki Water Sports Trust via its Facebook page.

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Dairy Focus January 2014 17

Feed mills cost effective

N

ew Zealand’s first in-shed meal feeding system was manufactured and installed by PPP Industries in 1967. In 2002 the first separator into New Zealand to remove solids from dairy waste was installed. By pre-treating effluent there are less issues with either irrigating out dairy effluent and or leaving treated effluent in a pond to be treated naturally. An on-farm feed mill should save you money in feed costs but when using roller mills you always get whole grain that passes through the rollers therefore not crushed. To solve this issue a new type of disc mill is now being used on farms in New Zealand. The PTW mill manufactured in Germany is quite revolutionary in that power requirements are only 5.5 HP to process about 2 tonnes per hour. The mill can also mill grain that has up to 40 percent moisture which is unique. Most importantly though with the new PTW mill the farmer can with absolute confidence mill grain consistently to the ideal

particle size for the best dairy cow nutrition requirements. As greater demands are being placed on dairy cows to produce consistently, animal health then plays a major part in obtaining high production figures and on reigning in on-farm costs. There are now tried and proven options for independent mineral lines or in line mineral dispensers to give additional additives to assist with health and production with in shed feed systems.

Close up of patented discs on feed mill.

The future of New Zealand dairy farming is based on sustainability. A new product launched this year is a clarifier which further treats effluent after a press screw separator enabling the farmer to remove suspended solids down to 80 microns or the thickness of a piece of paper. This will make recycling of waste water more feasible and also reduce the time effluent needs to spend in oxidation ponds. Fieldays are a great opportunity for farmers and business people to view what is out there that can improve their farm profitability in a sustainable manner.

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18 Dairy Focus January 2014

Study finds rotaries under-used

R

otaries first appeared on New Zealand farms in the mid-1960s following development by Taranaki farmer Merv Hicks, but their use has been limited to a small proportion of farms until the past decade. In 2010 40 per cent of New Zealand dairy cows were milked in rotary dairies. The larger a herd, the more likely it is to be milked in a rotary. The rotary has now become the dominant technology for milking cows. Early rotaries were small – up to 30 bails, but nowadays it is more common to install a 40- to 60-bail rotary, although there are examples of up to 100-bail systems. Rotary dairies are appealing to farmers for several reasons. Higher cow throughput rates per operator are possible, particularly with large herds. Additional technology allows

one person to operate the dairy and a lower level of skill is required. On the other hand, the cost is substantially higher than for an equivalent herringbone design. The rotary has become important technology on New Zealand farms, yet few studies have quantified milking performance and sought to understand the key factors for effectively operating this type of milking system. A DairyNZ-funded project set out to answer this question using data collected from commercial farms, experimental studies testing the implications of different milking routines and milking end-point decision criteria and simulation modelling. Eighty farms, selected by technological criteria, provided benchmark data for a range of milking efficiency measures.

The skill of the operators and their ability to cup cows consistently is important in achieving an efficient yet sustainable platform speed. In the benchmark group the average length of time one person spent cupping at peak lactation was 140 minutes; however, the range was from 60 to 345 minutes. Cupping time was reduced in late lactation to an average of 91 minutes in a milking session with a range of 31 to 196 minutes. A feature of many farms was that operators swapped tasks during a milking session. A measure of how effectively farms were using the rotary platform was calculated. The effective utilisation rate was the total time the machine was milking divided by the total time the shed was running. The maximum utilisation being achieved was between 49 and 63 per cent, and did not appear to be related to shed size, meaning for 40 per cent of the time the plant was running but not milking – because of cows finishing milking part-way round the platform and empty bails. The majority of rotary milking systems are underused. There appears to be scope for improving cow throughput by focussing on the operating procedures, in particular factors influencing platform speed and the percentage of cows completing a second rotation.

Milking cows in a rotary shed.

A range of shed sizes was included to represent the systems in use, and 84 per cent used in-shed feeding systems, and the majority of sheds were less than seven years old. Equipment from six different primary suppliers was installed on the farms. Milking data was collected for 10 milkings between the end of calving and start of mating (September to November 2010, 65 farms) and again in late lactation (February to April 2011, 80 farms). Milk quality, cow health and the comfort and safety of people are important considerations when assessing the milking

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performance on a farm. Cows milked per hour increased linearly with increasing shed size. Smaller rotaries (40 bails) achieved, on average, 149 cows per hour at peak, increasing to 213 cows/hour in late lactation. The highest throughput was achieved by 80-bail systems at 447 cows/hour (with two operators) and this rate did not change from peak to late lactation. Three factors limit the speed at which the platform can turn: cow loading, cupping speed including other tasks the operator(s) must perform, and the number of cows requiring a second rotation.

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Advertising feature

Dairy Focus January 2014 19

Weather proof your roof W

hen you have been up since the crack of dawn, that charming nor ‘west wind is howling and the end of milking seems days away, the last thing you want to worry about is if your farm buildings will hold together. 2013 was a year of extreme weather from wind to rain and snow we got it all and not in small measures. The marks of this beating still shows in Mid Canterbury today, with knocked over Pivots, felled trees and barns stripped of their roofing.

Now at the start of 2014 the weather still hasn’t settled down, meaning that while we may have patched up that missing patch on the barn or nailed back down that loose sheet on the dairy shed roof. These DIY repairs may not hold up to another extreme weather onslaught. Innovation has struck for a local company that has seen the worst of these repair and patch jobs in the last few months. Canterbury Long Run Roofing operating out of the Ashburton Business Estate has invested in the latest Dual

Roll Forming Roofing Machine. This is a machine that can produce corrugated iron and five rib roofing sheets in any length, giving them the opportunity to really customise their jobs. All steel based roofing products are produced from New Zealand made Colorsteel® Zincalume ® or Galv steel, and carry warranties of up to 30 years. We can get four seasons in one day here in the South Island, and while it’s beautiful that doesn’t make it any easier. Choosing what materials and who to use

when building a new or repairing an old shed can be tricky. At the end of the day it is important to invest in high quality materials and labourers if you don’t want to be out there fixing your shed in four different places after a nor ‘West rolls through. It’s worth taking the time to ask questions before building your shed or committing to repairs so ask a local roofing store for some advice on what they would recommend.

Malcolm operating the Dual Roll Forming roofing machine.

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20 Dairy Focus January 2014

Advertising feature

Farmer gets higher milk production using Quadrant square liners A

shburton farm manager Brendon Steer was having a bit of trouble in one of the dairy sheds he runs on Kintore Farm, with cups slipping off the cows and poor teat condition. The shed was noisy from the cups slipping and the cows didn’t want to come in to be milked. “They were being milked with heavy gear and high vacuum – you could see they were uncomfortable,” Mr Steer says. It is an older shed that Mr Steer inherited and is progressively converting to Waikato Milking Systems’ gear to improve its milking performance. In the meantime, Mr Steer consulted the vet about the cup slip and teat end damage, and the vet recommended changing the teat cup liners on the milking machine from traditional round liners to the more modern square liners. Mr Steer got in touch with local dealer Ashburton Milking Systems - the Canterbury agent for Waikato Milking Systems – and ordered in a supply of Waikato’s Quadrant square liners. “They are brilliant,” Mr Steer says. “Since we changed to the Quadrant liners, milking time has sped up by 30 to 45

minutes. It’s a combination of factors – we also changed the teat cup shells to Waikato’s extra light shells and lowered our vacuum by about 6kpa to get less teat end damage. Then we changed to Waikato pulsators and our milking time has now sped up by an hour at least. “The cows are more comfortable and milking is a lot quieter in the shed because of less cup slip. After changing to light gear and low vacuum it took a couple of days but once the cows were used to it, they’re happier in the shed. They milk out 10 times quicker then they’re out of there. They love it – it’s brilliant.” Milk production is up 6 percent so far over last year, and month to date production is up about 12 percent. “Everyone enjoys milking in the shed and wants to do it now!” Mr Steer says. Other steps he has taken as he converts this older shed to Waikato gear include putting in a new Waikato milk line and pulsation line, and he has been blown away by the results so far. The shed milks 750 cows. The new shed on the property has a full Waikato plant, milking 850 cows. With more Waikato gear in the older

shed, the two sheds now have a better chance of competing with each other on production. Quadrant liners from Waikato Milking Systems are designed to give farmers an extra edge in their milking routine over the more traditional round liners. Outcomes include a more efficient and productive milking routine. Farmers who have made the change to Quadrant liners report a range of benefits including improved cow teat condition, reduced cup slip and faster milking. Teat condition is improved because the Quadrant liner gently massages the cows’ teats and protects the teat ends from mechanical pressure. This is important because damaged teat ends provide a place for bacteria to grow which can lead to mastitis. Damaged teats also cause pain and discomfort for the cow that can impair milk let down and can lead to cups being kicked off. By switching to square liners, farmers report significantly fewer cracked teat ends and more settled cows. Regular comments from farmers include that general teat condition has improved and mastitis levels are lower – meaning lower

vet bills and higher milk production. Cup slip is reduced due to the cows being more comfortable and due to the stable liner vacuum provided by the square barrel design. Farmers using Quadrant liners report their milking is faster because of the improved cow comfort and reduced cup slip. Even if a cup does slip, milking can continue for the rest of the herd as vacuum continues to the rest of the system. The power of the Quadrant liner is in its unique square barrel design. When collapsed, the square design uses internal ribs to create a small open channel that continues to supply vacuum around the teat into the head of the liner – reducing cup slip. With a traditional round liner, on the other hand, the round barrel collapses closely around the teat, reducing airflow to the vacuum chamber. As a result, vacuum is lower in the chamber and cups are more likely to slip. This makes the Quadrant liner a sensible choice for farmers wanting to get the best possible results.

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Advertising feature

Dairy Focus January 2014 21

Conversion process

W

hen converting to a dairy farm, upgrading an existing dairy shed, or building a feedpad, sufficient time for all factors such as design, various ECan and District Council consents, and building of the new dairy shed and associated structures needs to be allowed for. Discussing a proposed conversion or upgrade with an experienced builder twelve months or more before the proposed build date is advisable as build diaries can quickly fill up for the coming season. An individual shed plan will be designed that suits your particular farming

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Dairy Focus January 2014

Calling food producers

23

O

ne of the country’s most successful primary producers will share ideas, learning and innovation at the Lincoln University Foundation’s South Island Farmer of the Year winner’s field day next month. Peter Yealands, of Yealands Wine Group, won the prestigious title for the 2013 season and will host the field day at the Yealands Estate Winery near Seddon, Marlborough, on Thursday, February 13. Lincoln University Foundation chairman Ben Todhunter says the informative programme planned for the field day will have practical relevance for dairy farmers, as well as primary producers. “Yealands justifiably won the farmer of the year title for the way they had looked at all aspects of their business, often finding better and more environmentally sustainable ways to do them,” Mr Todhunter said. “This experience has direct relevance for dairy farmers who

Peter Yealands, last year’s South Island Farmer of the Year.

are facing increasing challenges to ensure their industry is sustainable from a business and environmental impact point of view.” The field day will not focus on winemaking per se, so much as the clever thinking, entrepreneurship, business strategies and people management that have gone into Yealands’ business. “Participants will get an insight into how Yealands, during a period of only five years, has become New Zealand’s sixth largest wine exporter; collecting along the way a fistful of

Yealands Wine Group’s new carbon-zero winery at Seddon, Marlborough.

industry awards, not just for the wines but for such things as tourism, business achievement, environmental management and sustainability,” Mr Todhunter said. “Whether someone is growing crops, wool or meat or producing milk there will be learning opportunities of real value to their business at this field day.

“We encourage all farmers and people from allied primary industries to attend,” Mr Todhunter said. • Get along to the South Island Farmer of the Year winner’s field day at Yealands Estate Winery, on the corner of Seaview and Reserve roads, Seddon, Marlborough on Thursday, February 13 from

10am to 3.30pm. Attendance (including lunch and refreshments) is free. There is no need to pre-register; just turn up on the day, but to assist with catering if you can let us know how many are coming, it would be appreciated. Send your intentions to steve@conv.co.nz marked field day

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