Farmlander Autumn 2024

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GROWING OPERATION Unlocking Northland’s potential Strong clip

Slimming down

Turning Kiwi wool into coats

The push to make farming ‘lean’

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UP FRONT | Welcome from the team

FARMLANDS PUBLICATION TEAM Deborah Allan Ian Turner CONTACT Farmlands 535 Wairakei Road, Burnside, Christchurch Ph: 0800 200 600 Email: CONTENT & DESIGN BY SCG Niko Kloeten LauraGrace McFarland Julian Pettitt

ON THE COVER Kaikohe Berryfruit head grower Dave Oberdries stands amongst the strawberry crop. Photograph by Dawn Dutton Design by Julian Pettitt



Deborah Allan and Ian Turner.

Planning for success This publication is printed on paper made from pulp that is environmentally certified, and from renewable and sustainable sources using vegetable-based inks. It is Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) and manufactured under strict ISO 14001 Environmental Management Systems (EMS). The plastic wrap is 100% recyclable in the New Zealand soft plastic recycling scheme.

This publication has been printed by Webstar, a Toitū enviromark diamond certified company and a winner of a Green Ribbon Award “Minimising our Waste”.

The information contained in this publication is given in good faith and has been derived from sources perceived to be reliable and accurate. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy and correctness of the information, Farmlands gives no warranties, express or implied, regarding the information nor does it accept any liability for any opinion or information (including the accuracy or completeness thereof) or for any consequences flowing from its use. The information and views expressed in this publication are not necessarily the views or opinion of Farmlands, its editorial contributors, freelancers, associates or information providers. Independent advice is recommended before acting on information or suggestions contained herein. Readers who rely on this information do so at their own risk. Reference to any specific commercial product, process, or service whether by trade name, trademark, manufacture, or otherwise does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by Farmlands. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without the prior written permission of the publisher. Prices and offers apply only in the time-period stated on the front cover of this publication and while stocks last. Not all products are available at all Farmlands stores. All prices include GST unless otherwise stated.

Very much in keeping with New Zealand’s #8 wire mentality, comes the autumn issue of Farmlander and a focus on making the most of what you’ve got. We wouldn’t however be worth our salt as New Zealand’s number-one buying group for farmers and growers, if we didn’t offer you some excellent products along the way. From adopting Lean Farming principles in the Manawatu, to finding a fashionable use for strong wool in South Canterbury, we’re backing Kiwis every step of way in this issue, and giving you a tasty way to serve-up that venison, which might be finding its way into your freezer soon. Most importantly this issue, we want to make sure you’re planning ahead and talking to the experts around you. Whether that’s your peers, our sector specialists or the team at Farmlands, we can all offer a different perspective on what you’re hoping to achieve. Enjoy the mag. It’s been a long time in the making and we certainly believe – like some of those Pinot Noir’s coming out of Central Otago – that good things take time. Noho ora mai.

Ian & Deborah Got something to share with the team at Farmlander? Email Keep up-to-date with the latest news from across the co-operative via our website and social media. @farmlandsnz


Farmlands Co-operative Society Limited | Farmlander | 1

FROM TANYA Tēna koutou katoa I’m pleased to share another Farmlander magazine with you. While it’s still the height of summer, we know you’re already busy preparing for the upcoming season. We have planned the timing of this edition to ensure Farmlander and the information it contains is available to you in time to assist with your planning. In the last couple of editions, I’ve talked a lot about the challenging operating environment, and this was the focus of our Annual Report and result announced late last year. We, like many ag-sector companies and co-ops, published a result that reflected the market conditions. In saying that, the very narrow loss reported, reflects the economy, the investment we’re making in pricing to support the challenges our shareholders are facing, and our investment in our future growth strategy. As a co-op, owned by our core farmer and grower customers, we’re in a unique position to choose to invest in better pricing when lower input costs are needed by our shareholders, even when it impacts our short-term profitability. As many of you may know, Farmlands’ te reo Māori name is Te Whenua Taroa - translating to ‘The Enduring Land’. This name is a point of pride within our co-op. The word “enduring” seems particularly relevant as we remain focused on a transformational strategy to ensure Farmlands delivers on being the number-one buying group for Aotearoa farmers and growers, now and into the future. At our Annual General Meeting in November, I had the opportunity to meet with and talk to shareholders about this strategy. I promptly followed this up with visits to Te Puke, Inglewood, Otautau and Gore to meet with more of you. This year, I’ll be out even more, in more regions, listening to and learning from you. I won’t get everywhere but I will ensure I hear directly from customers and shareholders about what you need from your co-op. Conversations have been focused on our growth strategy to become a $6 billion revenue co-op and the actions we need to take to get there – including our product strategy to fully leverage your buying power and streamline our product range to get the best price and value. We need the right supply chain model and retail network plan to ensure product availability, and the logistics solutions to get product onto farms and orchards when needed. We need to be easy to do business with – having the best people, with the right technical skills, and investing in new digital solutions for our farmers and growers. I’ve shared plans for our new Digital Farmer self-service portal designed to support self—management of purchases from

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and interactions with Farmlands. There’s more on Digital Farmer later in the magazine. I’ve also shared information on the important role lifestyle and casual customers play in creating margin and offering better pricing for shareholders. We invest the margin we earn from the lifestyle market in our core customers through reduced pricing, increased service levels and innovation, and acquisitions such as our plans to purchase SealesWinslow. I ask that you continue to support us, as everything we do is focused on supporting you. In the words of Rachel Hunter “It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen”. Good things take time and are hard work. 2024 is when the rubber really starts to hit the road for our supply chain transformation, the Farmlands team, our shareholders and customers. Here’s to it!

Ngā manaakitanga (With best wishes)

Farmlands CEO

Got a question for Tanya? Reach out via

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Inside our

AUTUMN issue Up Front 2

From the CEO

Tanya Houghton discusses the Farmlands Annual General meeting, and the strategy to grow the co-op to $6 billion in revenue.



News, events and new appointments to the Farmlands team.


Remembering Dr Warren Parker

We celebrate the life of our former director, a primary sector leader, dedicated environmentalist and family man.

Special Section Autumn Checklist

Get sorted for 2024 with expert advice on nutrition, animal health and pasture management.

Vineyard Manager Steven Crosbie of Domain Road Vineyard. – see pages 70-72.



The Big Picture

Lay of the Land



Growing Northland

From dairy farming to strawberries, we look at the state of the rural sector in our northernmost region.


The Clip

Meet the South Canterbury sheep farmers turning their Romney wool into New Zealand-made coats.



Campaigning for wool

New research on consumer attitudes to wool shows promising signs for Kiwi woolgrowers.



Beating the wallabies

Iconic Aussie fencing manufacturer Waratah joins the battle against wallabies in the South Island.




New crop

Learn more about the Cultivate programme for new Farmlands Technical Field Officers.

Opening up

Farmers are encouraged to take part in Open Farms, New Zealand’s national open farm day.

Cyclone anniversary

One year on from the Cyclone Gabrielle, we meet some of the Farmlands shareholders helped by the Post Your Support campaign.

Organic passion

We put the spotlight on the organic winegrowing community in Central Otago.


Lean Farm

We profile the former automotive engineer helping rural businesses get more efficient.


Complex nutrition

How farmers are boosting returns by taking a more scientific approach to nutrition.


Digital Farmer

Find out more about the new app that will make purchasing from Farmlands even easier.


Core Range

In our latest update on Farmlands’ supply chain overhaul, we highlight some hefty price reductions.


Century Farms

We profile the Sutton family in Ararimu, who have the last farm in the valley.

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Last Word

Aidan Gent, General Manager Rural Banking at ASB, gives his thoughts on surviving tough times.


Scan the QR code with your mobile phone to access the Card Partner Directory Tap the ‘Share’ icon in the menu and scroll to ‘Add to Home screen’ Tap the icon in the top corner and select ‘Add to Home screen’





out here

UP FRONT | Clippings

CLIPPINGS News from Farmlands and beyond the Farmlands family,” Andre says. “My core values are freedom and connection, and I am joining a coop where people are cared for, and everyone is connected to the land that produces everything we need. I am one lucky person and grateful to be in this moment.”


New leaders at Farmlands Recruiting the right people is crucial to Farmlands transformation and growth plans. CEO Tanya Houghton is pleased to announce the final two key appointments as part of a small, focused leadership group.

Karma Wetere


Andre Scheepers Building Farmlands digital capabilities to deliver better solutions to customers and operate more efficiently remains paramount. Andre Scheepers is up for this challenge as Chief Digital Officer. Andre has made New Zealand his home, having moved to Auckland from South Africa to take up a senior IT transformation lead role at The Warehouse Group and bringing with him strong commercial and digital experience in CIO roles in South Africa. Andre has fallen in love with Ōtautahi Christchurch and moved down from Auckland before starting with Farmlands in February. Andre has a strong connection to the land, having grown up on a dairy, beef and maize farm in South Africa. His ambition is to bring together his love of cooking with growing his own ingredients on a lifestyle block. Andre is energised by the opportunity to join Farmlands, saying that doing best for NZ Agri and working in a business based on co-operative principles is a real motivation. “All of New Zealand is my new home and I am so excited be part of

Andre Scheepers.

Karma Wetere.

Karma Wetere has joined Farmlands as General Manager Retail. Karma will employ her expertise, built through a 30 year retail career, to improve the in-store experience for core farmer, grower and lifestyle customers, as well as attract new customers to Farmlands. Prior to joining Farmlands, Karma had been working in the fashion industry, most recently as Brand Country Manager for Cotton On. Earlier in her career she worked in the pharmacy industry, including at Amcal when it was still a pharmacyowned cooperative. Born and raised in Whanganui, Karma has a strong connection to the rural sector, which was one of the reasons she wanted to join Farmlands. “Farmlands feels very much like ‘real New Zealand’. I’m living and breathing that space every day in my personal life, so it aligned really well. It was also about their values, because values are incredibly important to me, and I was especially impressed with the Farmlands team’s commitment to mental health. I am looking forward to using my retail experience to help grow the business and ultimately improve returns for our shareholders.” | Farmlander | 7


Calgary Stampede winners announced Several lucky Farmlands shareholders have won the trip of a lifetime and will be heading to Canada to attend the world-famous Calgary Stampede event this July. The Farmlands ‘Spring Stampede’ competition was open to

those who purchased any two inputs of Fertiliser, Seed or AgChem products, with a minimum spend of $2,000. The three prize-winners receive return flights for two people to Calgary, along with tickets to the Calgary Stampede and three nights’ accommodation. The winners were: • Lance and Tania Bowers, Tokoroa/Putaruru • Samuel Davison, Masterton • Edith Johnson, Te Puna

Edith’s daughter Karen says her mum is “very excited” to win the trip. “It is great news as Mum is a very hard-working lady and we lost Dad just four years ago then went into Covid lockdown, so this is her big chance to do something very exciting and challenging that we didn’t think she was going to get. “We thank you all for this wonderful opportunity to look at the world in a different way and imagine a big exciting overseas trip.”

Spring Stampede winners Tania and Lance Bowers with their TFO Nathan Classen (centre), Farmlands Tokoroa Business Manager Wendy Costar (left) and Farmlands Putaruru Business Manager Kate Campbell (right).


Upcoming events Autumn is a busy time on the rural calendar, with shows and other events taking place all over New Zealand. From regional Field Days to local A&P Shows, here are some of the must-see events coming up around the country over the next couple of months: Northland Field Days: 29th Feb – 2nd March, Dargaville Horse of the Year: 5th – 10th March, Hastings Wanaka A&P Show: 8th – 9th March, Wanaka Central Districts Field Days: 14th – 16th March, Feilding Agfest: 12th – 13th April, Greymouth

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Farmlands CEO Tanya Houghton chats with visitors to the Farmlands tent at the recent New Zealand Agricultural Show in Christchurch.

There’s no job too big, there’s no job too odd

 0800 15 15 15



Safer Farms for everyone

Farmlands raises funds for Farmstrong and 81 local charities in Christmas Fundraiser

Farmlands has recently signed the Safer Farms pledge, becoming a member of this important rurally focused organisation. Safer Farms was created to lead and inspire the agricultural sector to make farms safer places to work and live. The aim: to reduce preventable injury and deaths across all corners of rural New Zealand. Farmlands, with its extensive reach recognises the importance of promoting a culture of safety. By joining forces with Safer Farms, Farmlands is reinforcing its commitment to the wellbeing of the farming community. With the essence of Farmlands being We’re Out Here Too, the relationship with Safer Farms and their sector-wide Farm Without Harm strategy makes perfect sense. This collaboration operates on the principle that safety is a collective responsibility, transcending individual farms and businesses and looking at the entire agricultural landscape. For more information, please visit

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Farmlands partnered with rural mental health advocate Farmstrong for the third annual ‘Tag Your Charity’ fundraiser, which kicked off on 1 November and ran until Christmas 2023. Each year Farmlands selects a national partner, with store teams choosing a local charity for customers to donate to when they shop in-store. For 2023 $102,770 was raised, including a $50,000 donation from Farmlands. $25,000 was distributed amongst each Farmlands store’s chosen local charity, and $25,000 went to Farmstrong, the national charitable partner. Farmstrong works to promote mental health within farming communities across New Zealand, helping farmers, growers and their families to cope with the stresses of farming. The programme has helped thousands of farmers and farmworkers over the last six years, with over 15,000 people telling the charity they credit improvements in their wellbeing to Farmstrong’s help and advice.



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Farmlands welcomes new customer community At the tail end of 2023 we invited the growing number of non-shareholder customers shopping at Farmlands to join a brand-new community, to give them a greater appreciation for what Farmlands can offer in the way of knowledge, advice and great everyday value on rural essentials. The Farmlands Community pilot to Farmlands “casual” customers began in the Motueka and Amberley stores and has now spread across the country, with some staff signing up 85 percent of their casual customers, showing the value of the initiative. Regional Retail Manager and Head of Digital Farm Sales, Luke Fisher says

Luke Fisher.

“Incorporating Farmlands Community into our retail stores allows us to interact with a whole new customer segment, while continuing to offer shareholders better value. This means we can engage our casual customers to create attachment to the brand, while maintaining our focus on core customers.” Casual customers are critical to Farmlands being the numberone buying group for New Zealand farmers and growers. Our casual customers provide greater buying scale and margin that can be used to support core farmers and growers. This is why appealing to and supporting casual customers through Farmlands Community will ensure Farmlands continues to move forward as a co-operative.


Inspirational teacher scoops Farmlands-sponsored award 2023 saw Farmlands step up as “People’s Choice Award” sponsor for Rural Life’s “Year of the Farmer 2023”, an initiative developed by the Otago Daily Times to highlight the positive contributions South Island farmers and growers make to the economy, the environment and to their community.

The "People’s Choice Award” was won by Canterbury teacher Sarah Foley-Smith, who runs the Primary Industry Academy at Geraldine High School, collaborating with businesses to create a practical education. Upon hearing she’d won, her response was "OMG! far out! so unexpected!"

Sarah Foley-Smith with students from the Primary Industry Academy at Geraldine High School.

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The award asked for votes from the general public to recognise the remarkable rural leaders spread across the South Island, and judges were pleased that voters had Sarah in the lead to win this award. They believed she was a standout and were keen for her contribution to be recognised. Sarah received a $3,000 prize from Farmlands for the win and has been acknowledged as one of New Zealand's most inspiring rural leaders— something that speaks volumes about her exceptional contribution. Sarah asked Farmlands to use her prize to help Geraldine High School with the cost of a new transportable BBQ – again demonstrating why she was such a worthy winner. The overall winner was humble and hard-working, North Otago dairy farmer Myfanwy Alexander. Judges said Ms Alexander embodied the positivity of the campaign, which was all about celebrating rural people who were creating an environmentally, economically and socially sustainable future while also making a positive contribution to rural communities.

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I Am Here at Farmlands


Last November Farmlands strengthened its commitment to employee wellbeing with the launch of I Am Here, the fastest-growing mental health and wellbeing movement in the world with 850,000 users worldwide. Founded on the principle that it's ok not to feel ok; and it's absolutely ok to ask for help, the programme provides users with positive, proactive ways to deal with mental health challenges. Almost half of New Zealanders will face mental distress, with 70% of rural residents reporting increased feelings of stress. The I Am Here platform will provide Farmlanders with tools for understanding and supporting their own mental health and that of their whānau, communities and colleagues. In a launch video, Chief Sales Officer Blair Robinson spoke about the importance of prioritising mental health for ourselves and others. “On a daily basis I see how much our staff care for our shareholders, our customers and each other. I am grateful to work for an organisation that is making such an investment in and for its people” he said. CEO Tanya Houghton believes that the effect of I Am Here will be transformative, fostering skills and compassion across the whole organisation.



Introducing tighter credit limit controls

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In February, Farmlands introduced tighter controls around credit limits on all Farmlands Accounts when making purchases in a Farmlands store.    The reason that Farmlands made this change is to abide by the ‘Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003’, or ‘CCCFA’. This applies to all New Zealand businesses that extend credit to their customers. Farmlands needs to comply with the law and act responsibly to ensure customers don’t over-extend their credit limits.    This process was applied to purchases made on Farmlands Accounts in all of our retail stores from 26 February 2024. If your purchase is declined due to your credit limit, please make a payment in-store or call us on 0800 200 600. You can apply for a permanent or temporary credit limit increase by logging onto MyFarmlands, or by emailing the Farmlands team at

UP FRONT | Clippings


Celebrating the life of Dr Warren Parker 1955-2023 As far as a lasting impact on the primary sector goes, Warren Parker’s influence will be felt for many years to come. From leadership roles at Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research and the Crown research institute Scion, to board roles at Pāmu and Farmlands, Warren’s vision, expertise and compassionate nature will be fondly remembered and difficult to emulate. These positions and corporate roles however were just one aspect of Warren’s life. A Professor of Agribusiness and Resource Management at Massey University with a PhD in animal science, Warren was responsible for teaching many of today’s industry leaders. Warren’s unwavering commitment to conservation, sustainability and the land led to his involvement with the Predator Free 2050 initiative, as well as being chair of both the Forestry Ministerial Advisory Group and New Zealand Conservation Authority. Being a good steward of the land was also a key element of Warren’s faith, as was his attitude to others, which can

be summed up in Matthew 7:12, one of his favourite pieces of scripture. “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you …” Warren was also a board member for Kimiora, a local community trust which runs programmes for youth and young mums in Rotorua. This was a volunteer role he was committed to, seeing the importance for building strength and bringing hope. Farmlands CEO Tanya Houghton remarked, “In addition to being an elected director for Farmlands, Warren was Chair of our People and Performance Committee, a role which he saw as a great responsibility as it enabled him to directly impact Farmlanders and the rural communities in which they live. He was always ready with supportive and encouraging words, to share his knowledge and engage in great debate.” Farmlands Board Chair, Rob Hewett knows there are big shoes to fill too. “He was a big man in every respect. He had a big brain, a big

heart and was a helluva nice guy. You could always count on him and he was able to explain very complex issues succinctly and logically. But I really liked the way Warren would put people at the heart of the decision-making process. He was commerciallyminded at the end of the day. But whatever the outcomes, the impact on people was certainly something that was well considered.” Warren will be deeply missed by the primary sector, his friends and most especially his family. He is survived and loved by, wife Vivienne, children Bradley, Leighton and Kimberley, daughters-in-law Jesse and Hayley and grandchildren Aria, Freya, Ava, Theo and Raine, who all loved and adored Warren - the husband, Dad and Poppa.

In remembrance To celebrate Warren, his love of the outdoors and unwavering support of the environment, Farmlands is planning to make a commemorative gift to one of the places or projects Warren was passionate about. | Farmlander | 15

The Big Picture

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In this section From regional profiles to stories of innovative rural start-ups, The Big Picture looks at the big trends while showcasing Farmlands shareholder success. Photo: Dawn Dutton


We look at the state of the rural sector in Northland after a challenging year.


The Clip founder Charlotte Bell tells us how her wool coat business got started.


Post Your Support grant recipients share their cyclone rebuild stories. | Farmlander | 17

The changing face of

RURAL NORTHLAND Northland has been through tough times, but work is underway to unlock the potential of the region’s rural sector, boosting the economy and providing much-needed jobs. WORDS BY NIKO KLOETEN


griculture has traditionally been the big player in Northland’s rural economy; according to economic development agency Northland Inc, dairy, beef and sheep farming contributed around $500 million to Northland's GDP in 2022 and employed almost 3,800 people. Northland’s farming sector is looking to bounce back after enduring “a year from hell” in 2023, according to Brad Allan, a sharemilker based near Dargaville. Brad farms about 1,300 cattle across two farms, including a coastal property which was hit particularly hard by Cyclone Gabrielle last March. “Our flood zone completely flooded, but it also burst the stop bank and did quite a bit more damage. We lost about 5km worth of fencing, but probably the worst thing about it was all our pasture died. We went through and re-drilled all the flats again, and then in early May we had another flood.” Brad, who has also farmed in Southland, says Northland has its challenges from a dairy farming perspective. “It's more work for less production. Obviously winters are kinder in the north than in the south, but even in our spring, we wouldn't grow as much as Southland does

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in autumn. We're generally too dry, then too wet, and too dry, and then in autumn you have to control the creeping perennial grass, kikuyu.”

Animal health concerns One of the biggest headaches over the past year has been managing animal health, especially the nutrition aspect. “The cows spent a lot of time on concrete over winter, and we'd already used a fair bit of supplement to keep us going after Gabrielle. We made the call to milk once a day, and we calved cows a bit lighter than normal, but with only milking once a day, they didn't lose as much weight at calving, so we're pretty happy.” The good news is that after what Brad describes as the hardest winter he has had while farming, he says conditions over spring and early summer were “better than normal”. He is also working with the local Farmlands experts on optimising nutrition for his cattle, particularly the calves. “We’ve had some major issues with the calves this past year.” Farmlands Technical Specialist, Karen Fraser, has been helping Brad with his nutrition regime, and says it’s been a “phenomenal season” up in Northland after last year’s cyclone and

weather events. “Normally it would be dry as dry up here by now. Northland farmers are making the most of the good season so far by getting plenty of cuts of silage, baleage and hay ready for the big dry, if it happens.” Despite the recent run of good weather, she says the aftermath of last autumn has left many farmers struggling to keep quality pastures on their paddocks. “Because they had such rapid growth and were having lots of problems getting onto paddocks right across Northland, they haven't been able to do some of that re-grassing they’d normally have done, so the quality of that grass is diminishing quickly.” Dairy farmers aren’t the only ones who have been feeling the pinch over the past year, Karen says. “Prices for lambs have not been as good as they had hoped for, so their budgets are way out from what they were forecasting initially. There are a few beef farms on the market, and a lot of those farms have been sold to forestry. Some of the farms for sale are stud farms, and obviously we don’t want to lose those.” Karen says one sector that could emerge in Northland is poultry farming, amid nationwide changes brought on by new animal welfare

THE BIG PICTURE | Northland focus

Right: Northland sharemilker Brad Allan with Farmlands Technical Specialist Karen Fraser.

rules. “There are a few big poultry businesses in Northland and potential for more to establish and bring new local employment opportunities to the region. I know there's a lot of new egg farms going in around the Waikato, so I wouldn't be surprised to see it happen in Northland as well.”

Potential in horticulture There is also growing recognition of the potential of horticulture in New Zealand’s only subtropical region. Figures from Fresh Facts 2023, published by pan-industry organisation United Fresh, show Northland now has almost 5,000ha of land used for horticulture, although it is still a minnow compared to regions like Hawke’s Bay (14,594ha), the Bay of Plenty (13,961ha) and Canterbury (12,563ha). Key crops in Northland include kiwifruit, avocados, kumara and citrus fruit. The Fresh Facts report also highlights just how unique the region’s climate is compared to the rest of New Zealand. Average yearly figures from 2011-2020* show Northland is the third wettest of the 15 regions (1,635mm/ year), but sits in the middle of the pack in terms of sunshine hours (2,235/year). What really sets Northland apart is its temperatures. It recorded 2,123 ‘heat units’ per year; Bay of Plenty (2,091) was the only other region above 2,000, while last-placed Southland shivered its way to 668. Northland also recorded less than one day of ground frost per year, the only region under 10 days. Otago took out the title of frostiest region, averaging 140 days per year. Farmlands Technical Advisor Josh Cousins says Northland has the potential to grow its horticulture sector and take advantage of its unique climate. “We don't have the extreme heat, but we also don't tend to have the swings from cold to hot. Our winters are relatively mild, which really lends itself to subtropical fruits.”

*Data taken from climate stations at Kerikeri and Kaitaia.



Josh says while avocados and kiwifruit are still the two main crops up north, other options are starting to emerge for growers. “We have a lot of citrus fruit, tamarillos, passionfruit. Bananas are another up and coming crop, but it’s more for your home growers. We also have berry fruit like blueberries and raspberries, and they’re under tunnels. On the West Coast they’ve done trials of peanuts and all sorts of different crops.” | Farmlander | 19

Left: Kaikohe Berryfruit head grower Dave Oberdries stands amongst the strawberry crop. Opposite: The finished product.

The biggest barrier to Northland reaching its potential in horticulture is infrastructure – especially roading – and access to water, Josh says. Work is underway to address the water challenge, with the Te Tai Tokerau Water Trust (chaired by former Member of Parliament Murray McCully) opening the Matawii Dam near Kaikohe last year. It is also working on a dam near Dargaville. Josh says these water storage projects will be a significant boost for the horticulture sector in surrounding areas. “Just by that one dam going in, think of how much land has gone from marginal dairy and beef land to now being profitable horticultural land. It's thousands of hectares that will have access to water.”

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Tunnelled strawberries take off Another key project in Northland is the 240ha Ngawha Innovation & Enterprise Park near Kaikohe, a collaboration between the Far North District Council, the government and local iwi Ngāpuhi. Featuring an innovation centre, educational facilities and a natural product business cluster, the park is also home to what is planned to become the largest hydroponic, tunnelled strawberry growing operation in New Zealand. Kaikohe Berryfruit, a Farmlands shareholder, had its first harvest of around 4ha of strawberries last year after Covid-related delays importing parts for its tunnel houses. It is planning

to expand to 10ha of strawberries for the 2024/25 harvest, and already employs up to 70 people at the peak of the season. Head grower Dave Oberdries says Ngāpuhi’s involvement means there is a strong focus on providing local job opportunities. “In the past, there have been a few problems in this area with unemployment and some of the social issues that go with that,” he says. “We have a strong focus toward providing employment to predominantly Ngāpuhi iwi and that is working well, it's a nice work environment and people are actively seeking to work for us. The whole aim is to help get the Far North up and cranking, and especially places like Kaikohe.” Dave has worked in several industries and has a long history in horticulture, starting as a 12-yearold picking berries in Marlborough. Describing his role as being that of a “problem solver”, he says 2023 was a steep learning curve but it has helped set them up for future seasons. “The smaller-scale operation for our first harvest meant it was quite a good lead-in trial,” he says. “It allows you to make a few mistakes, iron out a few teething problems, start developing your business relationships and fine tune your processes, particularly around supply chain logistics.”

Extended season The favourable climate up north means an extended growing season for strawberries, Dave says. “We get premiums for early strawberries. We can start picking as early as September, and we can potentially go right through until April. We’re 100 percent domestic supply at the moment, with our berries being supplied around the North Island. New Zealand consumers principally regard strawberries as an early summer fruit.”

THE BIG PICTURE | Northland focus

prove challenging as temperatures peak over the summer,” he says. “Once the packhouse and coolstore build is complete, we will move to a model that enables us to pick quicker in the field, remove the field heat in our chillers as soon as possible, and then complete the packing process before despatching. We expect this to improve our fruit quality and thus our overall packout.”

Land of opportunity

process will also improve once Kaikohe Berryfruit’s new onsite packhouse and coolstore is completed later this year. “At the moment, we're picking and packing in the field, and that can

While farming in Northland might be harder than other areas, the region holds one big advantage for Brad the sharemilker. The smaller farm sizes and lower prices per hectare than prime dairy farming regions like Waikato, Taranaki and Southland, makes his goal of one day owning a farm that much more achievable. “A lot of the farmers up here are quite old and a bit stubborn, and with all the new regulations coming through, that might be their last time out. Also, within families, there doesn't seem to be the kids running farms. Succession in Northland is not there, and I believe there's quite a few opportunities that are going to come up.”

Kaitaia to Wellsford, as well as Helensville in north-west Auckland and the Pukekohe store in the heart of vegetable growing country. Clare is new to the farming sector, but she is familiar with the co-operative’s dual customer base of core grower/ farmers and lifestylers, having worked at Farmlands Card Partner Bunnings for more than seven years, after arriving in New Zealand from the UK. “Our lifestyle customers - both shareholders and casual customers visit our stores to buy off the shelf and so it's incredibly important to have the retail network, products and service that these customers need. I really understand how important they are to help with our buying scale and to provide margin that can be used to support the rest of the business, particularly so we can offer better value

to our farmer and grower shareholders.” Although Clare is still learning the ins and outs of the Northland region, she’s been ably assisted by the knowledgeable staff and store managers in the area. “Obviously Northland's been through some rough patches and the weather impact has been quite significant. There's also been some change to the industry, including land changes.” she says. “There's opportunity within our teams, that have had dairy-focused stores for example, where they might be moving to more of a horticulture focus, and it's about how we upskill the team to be able to deal with that change and deliver the right outcome for our customers. I've got fantastic stores that have amazing connections with their customers, and I love seeing how they interact when I'm in-store.”

“The whole aim is to help get the Far North up and cranking, and especially places like Kaikohe.” While the tunnels protect the strawberries from most weatherrelated problems, excessive heat is one risk factor that needs to be monitored during Northland summers. Dave says the packing

Keeping up with evolution Northland’s rural sector is evolving rapidly and Farmlands needs to evolve with it, according to the co-operative’s new retail lead in the region. Clare Taylor joined Farmlands in October last year and her territory includes eight Northland stores spanning a huge distance from | Farmlander | 21

Economics & ecology unite

Economic considerations are forcing many farmers and growers into more environmentally sustainable practices, according to the founders of Southland-based rural innovation hub Future Whenua. WORDS BY NIKO KLOETEN



he Future Whenua Summit 2024, which takes place from March 15th-17th, will include in-depth discussion on topics such as land stewardship and deploying largescale regenerative farming systems, amid global ecological challenges. This year’s event is being hosted at the Ngawha Innovation and Enterprise Park in Northland, a collaboration between the Far North District Council, the government and various local and national horticulture and agriculture businesses. Featuring speakers such as freshwater ecologist Dr Mike Joy, economic commentator Rod Oram and Open Farms founder Daniel Eb, the summit comes at a time when many in the rural sector are already making changes to the way they do things. Future Whenua co-founder Rob Swatton, who comes from a tech background, says he has noticed a “shift in the wind” regarding farmer attitudes. “I don't think it was ever going to be just the allure of a better environment that pulled people across the line. Our inputs are now reaching a price where we have to seriously consider how we use them, and then suddenly you're asking, ‘Do we actually need to be using these things?’ Future Whenua’s other co-founder, third-generation farmer Zeb Horrell, says the push for a more regenerative

Rob Swatton, co-founder of Future Whenua.

approach to agriculture will come from several angles. The “carrot” of potentially getting a premium for a better product goes along with the “stick” of more stringent regulations around how food is produced, he says. “It's not just meat producers or MPI that are creating these rules, it's consumers and these overseas supermarkets like Tesco that are actually going to set regulations. If we are not meeting a certain level of ecological or animal health standards, they're going to stop buying our

products, and that's going to be a real blow for our export market.” Back down south, the Future Whenua team are working on several innovative projects on the 420ha Montana Flat sheep farming station where the initiative is based. “We’ve been working on a trial with tropical agroforestry, a high density, high diversity technique that was developed in the tropics, but it's been spreading all around the world,” Zeb says. “We've planted over 40 different tree species, with 40 different annual vegetables, herbs and flowers interspersed amongst those.” Rob says they are also working on a project involving agrivoltaic energy, where crops are grown underneath solar panels, producing food and power in the same place. “It's starting off with a relatively low 30-kilowatt array, but we’re looking at stepping up to the multi megawatt side of things, including some innovative ideas around energy storage.” Zeb says one of the principles of Future Whenua, and its summits, is to bring together people from different backgrounds with a range of ideas, not just farmers. “We're up against a poly-crisis, so what we really need to respond with is a poly-solution. That's going to take everyone with different bits of the puzzle to link up.”

For more info and to register for the Future Whenua Summit 2024, go to

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In association with Nufarm

Andy Davis.

Seasonal conditions notwithstanding, efficient harvest of apples in the weeks ahead hinges on making the most of one critical resource that remains in short supply, your orchard workforce. Many aspects of labour management are beyond your control as a grower. Manipulating crop maturity, however, is one thing you can directly influence inside the orchard gate. ReTain® is a naturally occurring plant growth regulator (PGR) which temporarily inhibits the production of ethylene in developing fruit, slowing maturation, ripening and development of abscission tissue while allowing continued fruit growth. Nufarm Technical Specialist Andy Davis says it has several physiological benefits for apples. Equally, it can really help with labour management. “Some growers use it to increase fruit size, but most want to be able to stagger the harvest of particular blocks so they’re not stressing out

about getting over the whole crop at once,” he says. “You don’t want 20 pickers going flat out for two weeks, and then having nothing to do for the next two weeks, because they will naturally go and find other work somewhere else. You’re better off with fewer staff, and more continuity.” Utilising ReTain® to its full potential starts now, if it hasn’t already, he says. For apple growers, ReTain® needs to be applied 21-28 days before

harvest. Precise scheduling is required to capture the full benefit of extending harvest up to 14 days, but Andy says attention to detail with application itself is also really important. “Historical harvest dates can help decide when to treat different blocks. We also recommend closely tracking current growth conditions and temperatures because ReTain® must be used with Freeway® organosilicone adjuvant to perform properly, and applying this to hot fruit should be avoided.” On the sunny side of the tree, on a hot sunny day, the interior temperature of apples can reach 40°C just under the skin. And in those conditions, fruit stays hot into the evening. Spraying adjuvant like Freeway® onto hot fruit increases the risk of lenticel damage, which affects fruit quality, Andy says. “We always recommend ReTain® be applied in the cool of the morning for this and a range of reasons. It should not be mixed with any horticultural product other than the specified adjuvant or Dipel® DF.” You also need to allow for a minimum 7-day interval between calcium sprays and ReTain®, and it should not be applied if calcium residues are present or if previous calcium use has damaged lenticels. Ask your Farmlands Technical Advisor about ReTain® today. Article supplied by Nufarm. ®ReTain is a registered trademark of Valent BioSciences Corporation, Illinois, USA ®Freeway is a registered trademark of Nufarm Limited ®Dipel is a registered trademark of Valent BioSciences LLC, U.S.A. | Farmlander | 23

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Standing on the sidelines watching a mid-winter rugby game, Charlotte Bell came up with an idea: turn their farm’s wool into New Zealand-made winter coats. We spoke to the founder of clothing brand The Clip about inspiration, frustration and supporting local. WORDS BY NIKO KLOETEN


ike many Kiwi sheep farmers, Charlotte and her husband Hamish face a dilemma: their wool makes them less money than it costs to shear it. Farming 1,000 hectares in the remote Hakataramea Valley in South Canterbury, the shearing bill for their 3,000+ Romney ewes has been going up, while the return from the wool has slumped in recent years. “A lot of it's so frustrating,” says Hamish of the current economic conditions for woolgrowers. “It'll cost us about $6.50 or $7 to shear a sheep,


and we're getting about probably $3 worth of wool off them, and that's a massive outlay. Whereas a few years ago it was cheaper for shearing and you'd get a wee bit more for your wool. It's just getting harder and harder to make a buck. The expense of farming has just gone through the roof.” Although fine wool such as Merino is in demand globally, due to its use in thermal clothing by brands such as Icebreaker, the market for strong wool, such as that produced by the Bells’ flock of Romney ewes, is much weaker. Strong wool is typically

used in carpets and upholstery, but faces stiff competition from cheap synthetic alternatives. Beef + Lamb New Zealand figures show strong wool export prices were $3,695/tonne in November 2022, well below the $19,613/tonne for fine wool. What to do with wool is a question the industry has been grappling with for decades, a fact illustrated by the stark decline in the size of our national flock. New Zealand had just over 25 million sheep as of June 2022, down nearly two-thirds from a peak of 70 million in 1982. According to | Farmlander | 25

Left: Hamish and Charlotte Bell have a flock of more than 3,000 Romney ewes.

Statistics New Zealand, our ratio of sheep to people has dropped below five to one for the first time since the 1850s, compared to a staggering 22:1 ratio in the early 1980s. Although the industry has been working on a solution for a while, Charlotte decided to take matters into her own hands and turn their wool into a business. This may not be a surprise to those familiar with the Hakataramea Valley, which is a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity. Several of the Bells’ neighbours have their own businesses, including Bex Hayman, creator of rural-themed jewellery brand Whistle & Pop (which featured in the Winter 2023 issue of Farmlander).

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“Obviously, wool prices have been struggling for a long time and that was getting very, very frustrating,” says Charlotte, who grew up in nearby Kurow, the home town of All Blacks legend Richie McCaw. “I was sitting in the wool shed at shearing time looking at the wool and thinking how proud we were of what we were

producing. It's just such a shame that we can't get more money for it and it isn't really valued.” This frustration turned into an idea when one of their two daughters started playing rugby, and Hamish and Charlotte got to sit on the sidelines “freezing our butts off” during the frigid southern winters. “I was looking at all these coats people were wearing and I thought, it's hard to find an actual wool coat, a 100 percent wool coat. We decided we'd give it a go and it was pretty fluky that the wool we were shearing was the right length to use for coats, because that's a big thing for spinning it. We got lucky and got the length right the first time.” As Hamish explains, the wool that is used for the coats comes from their ewe lambs. “It's quite good for these coats. It's the first time they're shorn, so they've got a bit of a tip on them. After they're shorn once, they don't have that again. It's got to be between 70mm and 100mm in length.” They received plenty of support from Hamish’s parents Alex and Denise, who owned the farm before they took over. The Clip’s first range of coats was even named Miss Denise. “My father, he's a bit of a wool guru,” Hamish says. “He comes up and classes the wool; he quite enjoys that. He was always a bit of a wool man.” Hamish admits it was “a bit of a shock” to him when they did the first three bales of lamb wool in their first year. “We ended up getting 150 coats out of them, which is quite a lot.” Of course, getting the right wool was only the first step in the process.

“It's hard to find an actual wool coat, a 100 percent wool coat. We decided we'd give it a go and it was pretty fluky that the wool we were shearing was the right length to use for coats, because that's a big thing for spinning it.”


Through a mix of Googling, and some helpful advice from friends, Charlotte managed to find a line-up of New Zealand businesses to produce the coats. The wool goes to Wool Yarns in Wellington to do the spinning, and then on to Interweave in Auckland to be woven into fabric, and then it's back to Christchurch at the Albion Clothing Factory where the coats are made. Although she is very much a rural lady, Charlotte says she wanted a product that appealed to city and country women alike. “I wanted it to be a coat that you can throw over a beautiful dress if you're going out somewhere really lovely, just to keep warm on the way there and the way home, but also to be great and comfortable, and stylish on the side of a sports field supporting your team as well.” Home-based businesses delivering products around the country are

not uncommon in the digital era, but Charlotte had picked an interesting time to launch. It was 2021 and New Zealand was still affected by a raft of ever-changing Covid rules and restrictions. “I don’t think we were in full lockdown, but it was a bit challenging,” Charlotte recalls. “Obviously, the factories were a bit slower at times. They had people sick with Covid. We had the different levels of lockdown and things, so it definitely slowed up that process. But from a selling point it was fine because it was all online, and I box them up at home and just either drop them at the post office or put them in the mailbox and mail them from there.” While the Covid restrictions caused some logistical challenges, there was a benefit to selling a locally-produced product: the resurgence of the “Buy New Zealand Made” campaign, and

general support for Kiwi businesses. “I think the New Zealand made thing started to be a bit more important,” Charlotte says. “I was aware how hard it was for us to get other products into New Zealand then, and we realised we need to make more things here, so we don't have that issue of trying to get them here.” With the support of friends and family, and a strong social media profile Charlotte had been building up for a while, launch night for The Clip was a success. Unfortunately Hamish had come down with a nasty bug, leaving Charlotte to celebrate the success on her own (almost). “I was getting all these sales, and it was really exciting, and Hamish was in bed and I was sitting talking to the dog going, woo hoo!” Hamish says the Romney ewe lamb wool used for the coats makes up about 10 percent of their total wool clip each year. Besides their Romneys, they also run about 100 cattle and winter a few half-bred sheep. “Definitely with wool there's a dual purpose, but the Romneys have a lot of lambs. They might tail 160 percent, whereas a Merino farmer will have a lot fewer lambs.” The Bells shear their sheep twice a year, which adds significantly to the shearing expense. Hamish says doing it this way works best from an animal health perspective. “You're running into things like sheep getting cast. It just slows them down.” Charlotte says starting The Clip has taught her a lot about wool and the process of getting the coats made. She has also learned a lot about marketing, although she says she still needs to learn more. So what’s next for the business? “The goal is to diversify the range. We've got our first men's coat coming; we just got the final sample. I think we've finally got it perfect; well, as perfect as we can get.”

For more information, visit | Farmlander | 27


WOOL Strong wool has faced stiff competition from synthetic products in recent years, but new research suggests consumers are starting to get the message about the benefits of New Zealand wool. WORDS BY NIKO KLOETEN


yan Cosgrove is Chairman of the Campaign for Wool NZ (CFWNZ), one of several industry groups around the world helping to spread the gospel of wool. He says a lot of things have gone against strong wool for the last few decades, and the industry is “playing catch-up” in combating the rise of synthetic alternatives for products like carpet. “There's a lot of passion, a lot of drive, but more importantly, a lot of science being done to make sure we do fill the gaps,” he says. “As an industry we've been pretty terrible marketers, and that's why you see a lot of farmers take control of the product themselves, which is admirable, and The Clip is an exceptional example of that.” The good news is that the effort to resurrect strong wool seems to be working. New research on US consumers shows that in the space of only two years, there has been an increase of between 11-20 percent in awareness of

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the following attributes of wool: warm, natural, strong, insulated, comfortable and fire retardant. Ryan says the study, commissioned by CFWNZ, also shows positive signs for New Zealand wool producers. “US consumers over the last two years have become more aware of what wool can do, and New Zealand's up 13 percent in awareness as a wool producing country over the same period, so this shows the New Zealand wool team is doing well in changing our messaging.” One of the challenges for strong wool, he says, is that the purchasing process is very different for buying products like carpet than it is for fine wool products like garments. “Fine wool and wool garments are so popular because the emotive process of buying a garment is so much more interactive. You go into the store and the first thing you do is touch: you grab things, you flick through them, and wool

THE BIG PICTURE | Campaign for Wool NZ

really shines with touch,” Ryan says. “Whereas when you're buying your carpet, you probably looked at a picture of it and best case you saw a swatch of it, but it was probably specified for you by the builder or the architect and you signed off a set of plans and you never had a relationship with the product. Those traits of being warm, soft and comfortable, aren't experiences you have when you buy a lot of strong wool products, just because of the way you buy.” To combat this, CFWNZ is focused on telling stories that educate while also creating emotional investment in wool, such as a recent nationwide campaign across print, digital, radio and TV, about how choosing wool affects your child. “Wool regulates moisture in the home, so by choosing plastic, you're choosing excess humidity, excess mould growth,” Ryan says. “Wool's naturally fire retardant, so when you choose synthetic, you're putting undue risk of super-flammable things around your child in the bedroom. We're not selling a product, but telling people things they already understand about wool, framing it in a way that really puts a lot of emotion into the choice.” Getting consumers on board is vital, but the industry has also been working with the government around procurement policies, following the Ministry of Education’s controversial contract with US firm Milliken to lay nylon carpet tiles in 600 schools. That deal “blew up the industry”, Ryan says. “We got a lot of traction and noise, and it highlighted problems with the framework and the procurement decisions. “A lot of these procurement frameworks were written in a way where they were inherently synthetic-biased. One of the key things the industry has worked to change is moisture absorption was a bad thing in the procurement framework. Synthetic doesn't absorb moisture at all, but wool does absorb moisture and particularly moisture in the air, because it's an active regulator of humidity in the room. “It's not just one way though. It breathes, so when there's high humidity in the room and there's lots of kids, it absorbs, and then when it goes the other way at night, it releases. It breathes and regulates the air quality, but because of that active natural mechanism, wool was penalised in that category. It's a far healthier function.”

Another unfair advantage for synthetics is around their carbon footprint, a key consideration for many consumers and organisations these days. Although polyester and nylons are byproducts of the petrol industry, the carbon emitted in extracting the oil used in their production is not counted as part of their total. “A new study in New Zealand has effectively halved the carbon footprint of wool. That's just playing by the existing rules, even though we think they aren't fair,” Ryan says.

“Fine wool and wool garments are so popular because the emotive process of buying a garment is so much more interactive. You go into the store and the first thing you do is you touch: you grab things, you flick through them, and wool really shines with touch.” “Then there's also things like end of life, recyclability and microplastics pollution. We know that wool is biodegradable, even after dying and treating. There are reclaimable carpet schemes around the world for wool carpets. Where we're missing a little bit is some of the other materials in the carpet, but you've got organisations like Bremworth who've got a big government grant to explore using different materials in the adhesives in the backing, to make the whole thing recyclable.” The other big area of focus for CFWNZ is education. Its Wool in Schools programme has seen more than 35,000 primary school students touch wool and learn about its benefits, hopefully going home and telling their mum and dads. Ryan says CFWNZ is working on creating a tertiary course with architects and designers around using wool products. It is also eyeing the secondary school space. “It’s about making sure children in New Zealand have that exposure to wool, so when they become key professional decision makers, they already know all that stuff.” | Farmlander | 29

Waratah JOINS WAR ON WALLABIES No, it’s not a discussion about Australian rugby teamsWaratah, the iconic Aussie fencing brand, has been enlisted to help in the battle against wallabies in the South Island. WORDS BY NIKO KLOETEN



he marsupials, native to Australia, were first brought to New Zealand in 1870, when Governor Sir George Grey released them on Kawau Island (north of Auckland). They were later introduced to other parts of the country, and they remain a problem in several areas, notably around Rotorua and in parts of the South Island. To prevent their spread into sensitive areas like the Mackenzie Basin and Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, Environment Canterbury (ECan) is building a 48km-long anti-wallaby fence along the western border of Canterbury’s wallaby containment area, from Lake Benmore through to Lake Tekapo. ECan has worked closely on the project with Waratah Fencing, which has a wealth of experience with antiwallaby fences in Australia. Brendon Crequer, New Zealand Sales Manager for Waratah Fencing, says there were some unique challenges involved with the Canterbury project. One of them is the harsh South Island winter, which is not such an issue when building a fence across the Tasman. Also, much of the fence is in remote and difficult-to-access areas, making Waratah’s distinctive Australian-manufactured blue steel fence posts easier for transportation than bulky timber. “If you are moving 48km of timber fencing in there, it would be multiple truckloads, whereas you could move our products down the fence line

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ground and works as an added barrier to stop feral animals from digging under. This was particularly important as we had the added complication that it had to be rabbit-proof.” Using premium steel fencing means that the ongoing maintenance costs should also be lower than for timber “because nothing moves”, Brendon says. With timber, everything moves, no matter how well it's constructed. It dries out, it gets wet, it warps, but that isn’t a problem for steel.”

Farmlands team tours Waratah

quite easily and save quite a chunk of money,” Brendon says. The rugged, rocky terrain in the area was also to Waratah’s advantage, due to the reduced installation costs of using steel fencing compared to timber, Brendon says. “If you think of a great big round strainer, trying to get that into a rocky environment, it takes a long time versus a smaller steel pipe.” The fence is only 1.3m high, and Brendon says wallabies “probably don't jump as much as people think they do”; the bigger problem is stopping them from pushing under the fence. “The fence that we've designed uses Waratah Longlife Blue® wire netting, which is installed to have a 30cm apron that lays flat on the

A team from Farmlands got to see the benefits of using Waratah fencing firsthand recently, with representatives from the Cromwell, Taieri, Alexandra, Ranfurly and Darfield stores visiting a Waratah factory in Newcastle, New South Wales. Brendon says it was a great opportunity to teach the Farmlands team more about Waratah fences and give them a glimpse into how they are made. While those that went to Australia were from wallaby-affected areas, he says the benefits of using quality steel for fencing are starting to be recognised across New Zealand. “The landscape of fencing in New Zealand is probably moving away from timber. Farmers and contractors are looking at ways of fencing that they can do with less labour and for a cheaper price. If you drive through the Mackenzie Basin, there are more steel fences there than you’ve ever seen.”

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ONE YEAR ON Following the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle, the Post Your Support Campaign raised over $2.1 million to support affected farmers and growers. We visited some of the Farmlands shareholders in the Hawke’s Bay who used Post Your Support to help rebuild. RICHARD BRIMER

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THE BIG PICTURE | Cyclone update


Greg Thomsen Dairy Heifer Grazing

Greg Thomsen's Grandfather was Farmlands shareholder #7.

Greg Thomsen estimates Cyclone Gabrielle wiped out about 20km of fencing from their 650ha property, including boundary fences along the road. “We lost a lot of tracking, bridges, fences, waterlines, and had a massive amount of slips. The main issues have been access and making sure stock are secure in their paddocks.” Post Your Support has been huge. We got about three or four bundles of posts from them and they’ve really helped us out.” | Farmlander | 33


Rex Bullock Sheep and Beef

Post your Support recipient Rex Bullock endured not only emotional pain but plenty of physical pain from Cyclone Gabrielle, breaking his collarbone after falling off the woolshed roof. “I got the bulldozer stuck three times and I had to dig it out with a collarbone that had just been broken. The “second-hand” bulldozer is “about 100 years old” and “looks like a Tonka truck”, he admits. “Having a tractor with a rammer on the front helped us no end to fix stuff.” 34 | Farmlander |

THE BIG PICTURE | Cyclone update


Suzie Crosse Sheep and Beef

Suzie Cross says Cyclone Gabrielle was a “complete and utter disaster” for their farm. “We had kilometres and kilometres of fencing destroyed. It looks like there was never even a fence there… they simply disappeared.” She says Post Your Support has been “fantastic” in helping them rebuild. “Any donations of materials were hugely appreciated and gratefully received.” | Farmlander | 35

AFTER THE HUNT: THE BEST RECIPE FOR VENISON Regnar Christensen is the award-winning Executive Chef at the Black Barn Bistro in Havelock North. He spoke to Farmlander about his love of hunting, and shared a tasty recipe for wild venison.

How would you describe your cooking philosophy? My first focus is to find quality local produce. If you can do that everything else falls into place. I try to cook simply and let the ingredients do the work. I love cooking with produce out of season, so I do as much pickling, preserving, and fermenting as possible. When you’re not at work, what are you doing? If I’m not spending time with my wife and children or planning new dishes, I’m out hunting or fishing. I will

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take any chance I can get to pack the car and head off to the hills; it’s my release. When I’m in the hills or have a line in the water that’s my only focus, I’m not particularly successful but I love it nonetheless. Where are your favourite hunting/fishing spots? My favourite place to hunt is the Kaweka ranges, I love the challenge of hunting Sika and I love the landscape with all the clay pans, manuka, beech forest and open tussock tops hunting, there’s no other place like it. If I was to go surfcasting and had a bit of time, I’d drive up to Mahia and fish my favourite spots Snapper Rock and Blacks Beach. What’s your number one tip to make cooking easier? Be organised; make sure you have everything you need before you start. I like to prep before I cook, so I will have all my ingredients weighed up and ready to go in bowls or containers before I start.


What do you like most about being back in Hawke’s Bay? The Hawke’s Bay has always felt like my home, I love the landscape and the community. I have easy access to go hunting in some beautiful country or surfcasting at the beach. My wife and I have four children and we love raising them here and exposing them to what the outdoors has to offer. There is nothing you cannot get locally produced here.



Wild venison osso bucco with pappardelle Serves 4 INGREDIENTS 2kg venison osso bucco – this could be done with Denver leg, but I love the marrow coming out of the bones into the sauce 1 bottle red wine (750ml) Rice bran oil for cooking A few sprigs thyme 1 large onion - diced 1 medium carrot – diced 150g mushrooms – sliced (I love shiitake but you can use whatever is available) 1 stick of celery – diced 2 bay leaves 60ml red wine vinegar 750ml beef stock Freshly ground black pepper Sea salt to taste TO SERVE Store bought pappardelle – I like De Cecco if I’m not making my own 25g butter A few sprigs worth of thyme leaves

METHOD • Marinate the venison overnight in the wine. • The next day remove the venison reserving the wine and dry with a

paper towel. Heat a Dutch Oven or heavy based pot, season the venison with salt and brown in a little oil, remove from the pot and set aside. • In the same pot, sweat down your vegetables and herbs until soft, add the meat back in along with the wine and vinegar and reduce by half. Add the beef stock and bring to the boil, then turn down to a gentle simmer for approximately 2 ½ - 3 hours. • Remove the meat from the braise and pick off in chunks, remove any marrow that may be left in the bones and then add it all back to the braise, season with salt and pepper (the braise should be reasonably thick by this point). Cover and keep warm. • In a separate pot, cook the pasta in boiling salted water according to the packet’s instructions. Drain and then add back to the pot, toss with the butter, thyme leaves and a little more black pepper. • Place pappardelle in bowls and top with the braised venison. | Farmlander | 37

Resene is a proud Farmlands Card Partner.

Winning woolshed Bold colours give local landmark a new lease of life. Farm sheds often become iconic landmarks for local communities. So it is for Paul Frost’s bold red woolshed which sits on his 28ha farm near Whakatane in the Bay of Plenty. The shed, which Paul made over during 2020 Covid lockdowns, is a winner in the Farmlands and Resene Colour the Country competition, showcasing the best painted farm projects around New Zealand. Having stood, visible from the road, for more than 70 years, Paul’s shed, then green, had become a familiar part of the landscape for Paul’s neighbours. Though by 2020, it was looking a little worse for wear and weather. “It’s been used as a woolshed since it was built in the 1950s and it was getting pretty ramshackle,” Paul says. “You could see daylight through the north and west walls, though the other sides were still pretty solid.” Paul and his wife Delwyn, who passed away in 2009, bought the farm in the 1970s and raised their two, nowadult, children there while they farmed a mix of deer, goat and sheep. Before that Paul had farmed sheep and cattle on another property and worked for more than 20 years at the

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Resene White

Resene Pioneer Red

Resene Black

Tasman pulp and paper mill in nearby Kawerau. He’s also a shearer and still works part-time at the local boat builders. Used to keeping busy, when Covid hit Paul needed a project to keep him occupied during lockdowns, so he took up the challenge of giving his rundown woolshed a new lease of life. The two most weathered walls on the north and west sides were replaced and the roof was replaced with silver long-run iron and black spouting. “I kept the existing wood on the others. I took out a few windows and painted the others,” he says. “It was quite a big job in the end. It kept me pretty busy.” Now made sturdier, Paul water blasted the re-used corrugated iron and opted for a change in colour. For the shed exterior, he chose bold Resene Lumbersider Low Sheen tinted to Resene Pioneer Red. Railings and other wood features including the stock yard were painted in Resene Black with window trims in Resene White. The colour scheme was inspired by a trip to Finland Paul took with his daughter Nikki. “I’d been thinking about what colour to paint it and while we were in Finland, I saw the

In association with Resene

red and white sheds there which just looked great against the green rolling paddocks, and I knew straight away that’s what I wanted to do here.” The bold choice caused the odd raised eyebrow among friends and neighbours who’d grown used to the shed being a classic rural green and had most likely assumed it would stay that way, laughs Paul, but the new look shed has already become a popular photo spot for passersby, particularly when it’s surrounded by blooming dahlias in spring and summer. And now, rather than being just a landmark for locals it’s also a relaxed social gathering spot, where Paul’s family and mates stop by for a cool drink and a chat - as well as still being a fully operational woolshed.

Paul Frost.

“I did still need it to be a working shed where we can shear the few sheep I still have. It still has all the overhead gear and I still keep a small stockyard,” he says. “But now, if people see my truck outside the shed on a Thursday or Friday they’ll stop by for a chat and a beer. The fridge is always stocked, and they’ll usually bring their own as well. There’s always someone keen for a chat. We’ll put on some Willie Nelson or some other music and catch up. And we had the neighbours over for a bonfire at Guy Fawkes.” Paul says making over the shed and maintaining the property “keeps me fit and out of trouble”, though a knee replacement has meant slowing down a little, at least temporarily but he’s extremely pleased with how his shed has turned out. “It looks good and it’s given it a whole new lease of life. It’s a great place to spend time working or catching up with people.”

top tip Think about what materials you already have available. Chances are you can give them a whole new look with a bit of prep and some fresh Resene paint or wood stains.


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a $250 Resene ColorShop voucher, and a $250 Farmlands Gift Card.

the country competition Enter your best rural project and win!

Resene and Farmlands are on the hunt for the country’s best rural Resene projects. Send in your photos and the stories behind your kitchen, shed, barn or bedroom – anything inside or outside that's painted, stained or wallpapered with Resene products! The winning projects will not only win a $250 Resene ColorShop voucher and a $250 Farmlands Gift Card, but will also feature in an upcoming issue of Farmlander magazine. TO ENTER: Submit your project photos, including the "before" shots if you have them to the Farmlands website, along with any details of the project. Just visit to enter. | Farmlander | 39



PROUD TO BE GENERAL INSURANCE COMPANY OF THE YEAR. AND A FEW OTHER THINGS. Not wanting to crow about it, but we’re pretty stoked to be named General Insurance Company of the Year by ANZIIF. Mostly because the award recognises how well we look after our clients. And at the end of the day, that’s what we’re here for. When you add to that the customer satisfaction awards we’ve also been given from Canstar and Consumer, we’d have to humbly admit that we must be doing something right.

We’re here for the good of the country.


AUTUMN WEATHER WATCH El Niño should bring more dry and windy conditions in autumn, according to NIWA's long-range forecast.

• El Niño has around a 100 percent chance of persisting through March. Although it will continue to have an important influence on Aotearoa New Zealand’s climate, unusual ocean heat in the western Pacific and on a global scale has contributed to circulation patterns that are not historically associated with El Niño. • Air pressure is forecast to be above normal near and north of the country and below normal to the south. This is expected to cause more northwesterly quarter winds than normal. • The type of El Niño being experienced will likely result in more variable rainfall patterns than experienced during strong El Niños in the past. • Rainfall is most likely to be near normal in the north and east of the North Island and west of the South Island. Near normal or below normal rainfall are about equally likely elsewhere. • According to the New Zealand Drought Index, several regions were experiencing unusual dryness as of early January. This may have contributed to water restrictions. Climate-sensitive sectors are encouraged to make use of the New Zealand drought dashboard. • Temperatures are likely to be above average in the west of the South Island and very likely to be above average elsewhere, owing to more frequent northwesterly quarter winds. • Wind strength is forecast to be above normal in the South Island and lower North Island. • Coastal sea surface temperatures (SSTs) ranged from -0.06˚C below average to 0.43˚C above average during December. Localised marine heatwaves occurred in coastal Canterbury, Hawke’s Bay, Gisborne, Bay of Plenty, and Auckland as of early January. • Marine heatwaves north of New Zealand may enhance the heat and humidity associated with air masses that track toward the country, such as in mid-to-late January. This may cause a marine heatwave to develop or intensify near the North Island. • Soil moisture and river flows are about equally likely to be near normal or below normal in all regions. For a more up-to-date and detailed forecast specific to your region, visit

Prepare for El Niño wildfire risk FMG is encouraging rural New Zealand to be prepared for the increased risk of wildfires due to the dry, hot, and windy conditions. “Now is the time to prepare by doing things like clearing vegetation, creating, and maintaining a ‘defensible space’ around your home and buildings, setting up water supplies, cleaning gutters and forming a plan,” says Angela Taylor, FMG’s Advice Services Manager. “Head to for information on its National Wildfire Readiness and Prevention campaign. There is a lot you can do to lessen the impact by preparing now and it will also increase your chances of navigating a major event safely,” says Angela. “It’s important to have an escape plan and practice it regularly with your family and your staff. Make sure your RAPID number is displayed at the end of your drive, where they are easy to see from the road and that your accessways are clear. You should also make sure you have enough water supplies available with clear signage.” Burn-offs are a legitimate land management tool, but it’s important to plan them in advance and consider the weather conditions, fuel conditions and any regulatory requirements you need to meet ahead of time. “Head to at to request a fire permit. Even if you are cautious, it doesn’t completely remove the risk of fire.” FMG is sponsoring a podcast produced by Farmers Weekly called El Niño Watch with weekly updates on the developing weather pattern which you can find on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Other useful tools are NIWA’s drought forecasting dashboard and the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Preparing for El Niño page. | Farmlander | 41

Cultivating success IN THE FIELD

Farmlands has embarked on a major upskilling programme for its technical staff, to support farmers and growers facing new challenges and increasing complexity in their businesses. WORDS BY NIKO KLOETEN


ollowing the launch of the AgronoMe programme last year, Farmlands has introduced another training pathway for its Technical Field Officers (TFOs) – Cultivate. While AgronoMe was created to help a few hand-picked TFOs progress to becoming agronomy experts, Cultivate covers a much larger group of almost 20 cadets, representing about 20 percent of the Farmlands technical field team. Nova Knight, Head of Technical Training, Learning and Development at Farmlands says: “Cultivate is focused more on TFOs that are newer

42 | Farmlander |


to the role, but we've actually got some individuals that have been in the industry for years that are looking to gain qualifications and build their confidence up in different areas" The Cultivate students are a “real mixture”, with men and women from a variety of backgrounds spread across almost every part of the country, Nova says. “Some have come to us and jumped straight into a field role from university, some have come off-farm, and we have some absolute superstars who started in-store and worked their way up. They've grown into the field position, and now we're

wrapping this course around them to support them and help them get a qualification as well.” The qualification is the Rural Services Level 4 certificate, which is delivered by Primary ITO in collaboration with Farmlands to ensure maximum relevance for the TFOs and the shareholders they work with. The Cultivate students complete and submit papers throughout the year, supported by several workshops with all the TFOs in the course in one location. Nova says Farmlands has worked with key suppliers to help deliver the workshops.


“For our first workshop, we had Agricom and Ballance, who delivered one of the day’s sessions, and then in Hawke's Bay, we had Gallagher. We're also working with Nufarm to support us on one of those days as well. It's been great to collaborate with their extension teams, and have their technical experts deliver the training too.” Nova says Cultivate is about much more than just book learning. “There's the technical skills that we are developing within the workshops, but there's also the sales skills and some soft skills as well, to help them in their conversations with shareholders. They needed to get up during one of the workshops and deliver a presentation, and I know a lot of them were quite nervous about doing that.” Cultivate students also need to demonstrate some of their knowledge out in the field. Nova says the programme supports the new generation of TFOs, who in many cases are working with a new generation of farmers, bringing with them fresh ideas and different philosophies. “It is about growing that younger talent, but also speaking to the younger talent out on farm. It's just reflecting New Zealand farming and how those farms are being run.” Hannah Nichols is one of the youngest of the Cultivate group at only 22 years old, but she has a long history with Farmlands, having worked at her local Dargaville store from the age of 15 before heading to Lincoln University to earn diplomas in Agriculture and in Farm Management. Hannah is also a past winner of the Tom Cranswick Award, and is now back working in Dargaville as a TFO. She says she is learning a lot from Cultivate, and from getting to work with the other TFOs from around the country. “I really enjoy meeting up together and hearing from other TFOs and what their backgrounds are. There's a few ex-farmers in there, so they're quite interesting to hear from, because they can give the farmer’s perspective on what we’re advising them to do.” Hannah brings plenty of practical hands-on farming experience herself,

having grown up on-farm along with working at a large sheep and beef station near Taupo. “There were 22 full-time staff members and I was one of two women for a majority of that time, so it helped me with getting to know how to work with farmers. Every situation is different and every customer is different, so you really have to tailor your approach.” This experience comes in handy when working with a wide range of customers, Hannah says. “I deal with dairy farmers, sheep and beef farmers, and I have quite a few kumara growers as well. Avocados are moving into the area, so that's something I have been upskilling on, and I've also

“Put something else in there and you're going to get more out of it.” This season especially, it’s about helping farmers to get the most profit out of what they're actually putting into their farm.”

Retail team also upskilling It is not just the technical team getting upskilled- Farmlands also offers Retail Level 3 and certificates for its store teams under the Retail Apprenticeship programme. Nova says there are around 100 team members across the country taking part in this training, which covers customer service, as well as operational standards and processes.

Hannah Nichols.

got a large grain grower, so I have quite a diverse range of customers that I support. Some people deal with just sheep and beef or dairy, and I have a bit of everything.” Hannah says a big area of focus for her at the moment is having conversations with shareholders about getting value for money, rather than just going for the cheapest option. “It is tricky to help some farmers understand that it's not just, “Get palm kernel, that's cheap,” it's,

“The apprenticeship is on-thejob learning, and we bring the team together on “drop-in” calls each month to discuss the coming papers. Regional and store managers act as verifiers, to sight how the team is performing across different topics over this 24-month programme. We want to ensure every team member at Farmlands is equipped with the skills and knowledge to thrive, no matter which part of the business they are in.” | Farmlander | 43

Autumn checklist

44 | Farmlander |


In a time of challenging economic conditions, farmers and growers need to invest in the right products and processes to generate the best economic return. The decisions you make now can have a huge impact on your results for the rest of the year. Our hand-picked team of Farmlands experts in agronomy and animal health have created a handy checklist to bring you up to speed on the latest science and product innovations in several key areas, including: • Spore testing • Extended lactation for dairy cows • Compound sheep feed options • Managing Barber’s Pole worm • Optimal feeding for deer • Calf marking • Pasture management • And much more… | Farmlander | 45


SPORE TESTING Understanding the basics A Kiwi company has made it easier for farmers to test their animals for animal health pests.


ecessity is the mother of invention. The Hamilton jet boat design and disposable syringes for injections are 100 percent courtesy of Kiwi ingenuity, as was refereeing the first ever rugby match with a whistle! Productivity and profitability are cornerstones of any successful business, often hinging on surprisingly simple practices that are not costprohibitive. New Zealand company Techion has developed FECPAKG2 kits to test livestock dung for either gut worms or facial eczema spores. Kits can be used for testing spore levels on pasture samples too. FECPAKG2 test kits are quick and easy to use to collect and send samples to the laboratory. Multiple animal species can be assessed, whether sheep, goats, cattle, horses, or alpaca when using FECPAKG2 kits for testing several parameters. Regular monitoring of multiple mobs for worms is important, particularly in growing youngsters lacking developed immunity to parasites, or alternatively when planning the allotment of spring grazing areas for ewes pregnant with multiple lambs. Ideally test with FECPAKG2 prior to and 7-14 days after a drench treatment is given, or for lambs and calves 28 days after their previous drench. Having this information puts you in the driver’s seat with a better steer on the best available options to mitigate parasite risks in vulnerable stock. Over time, collecting test data helps you optimally steward the effective drench actives suitable for use in your situation.

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A key focus of sustainable livestock farming today is on how to farm with drench resistance rather than without. This includes taking a more holistic parasite management approach through utilising tools such as grazing practices, cropping alternatives, varying classes of livestock and/or inter-species for grazing paddocks, and dung testing to help enable evidence-based decisions that support optimal animal health performance while upholding appropriate levels of animal welfare.

As facial eczema has no treatment, prevention is crucial. Regular and ongoing monitoring of facial eczema spore counts trending on your property is key, identified through testing pasture or dung samples. Pasture spore counts show a potential consumption while faecal spore counts confirm the actual spore numbers ingested one to two days prior to sampling. Faecal spore counts are especially useful for detecting earlier than expected rising spore counts from November onwards, and also at the tail end of the season to help inform when zinc treatments for facial eczema can be stopped. Always consult your animal health professional for specific advice relevant to your livestock and property grazing situation. You should also refer to industry info and guidelines for other recommended actions available, to safeguard your livestock against facial eczema.

Facial eczema

Drench resistance is not going on holiday

Facial eczema is a disease of pasture grazing livestock (apart from horses) which damages the liver, caused by the fungal mycotoxin sporidesmin, and whose unwelcome presence is chiefly felt during warm humid summer and autumn weather. Affected animals may exhibit a range of skin photosensitivity symptoms, poorer productive performance, or they may die. The disease can be considerably painful, a significant adverse animal welfare impact.

For successful parasite management, carte blanche drenching is off the menu. Both worms and facial eczema cannot be ignored and following appropriate preventative measures is a given. However, you can now access tools and knowledge through your local Farmlands store and Technical Field Officer, to support optimal parasite management practices and facial eczema prevention for your property and livestock, while being productive and proficient.


Zinc Treatments for Facial Eczema (FE) prevention Because FE has no cure, dosing livestock with zinc when spore counts are at toxic levels helps to mitigate the disease. Farmlands offers a range of zinc products, including zinc sulphate for water dosing, zinc oxide for oral drenching and in feed, or intraruminal zinc boluses. FE risk and zinc treatment levels vary from farm-to-farm and season-to-season, so make sure you discuss your FE treatment programme with your local animal health professional.



FECPAKG2 can test livestock faecal matter, from ruminant animals like cattle and sheep, to horses, alpacas, and goats. The kit includes everything required to collect the sample, test options (parasites in faecal egg counts or exposure to facial eczema spores), courier pack to send the sample off to the lab and the price includes one lab test. The results are emailed with an interpretation guide explaining the result. FECPAKG2 test kits are available in-store and online from Farmlands.

One of those singing the praises of Techion’s FECPAKG2 kits is Southland sheep farmer and shareholder Andrew Law. Based at Castle Rock between Lumsden and Mossburn, Andrew runs around 13,000-14,000 lambs on 2,500ha. With such a big operation, drenching can be not only a significant cost but a logistical nightmare. So Andrew and his team have been using spore testing for close to a decade to minimise the need for it. He says they are doing the testing a lot more frequently now they are using the Technion FECPAKG2 kits, which are both affordable and convenient to use. “You can take them around with you and if you see your animals are looking a bit wormy, you can quickly pull a kit out and test right there.”

“It’s been a real focus of our farm to lower our drench use, and the best way to do it is through testing. Not only has it given us quite a saving on drench use, but it also helps with knowing where you’re at, and making a lot of decisions around older hoggets and ewes. “We’ve always been doing testing through the vets, but these kits were a bit cheaper and they can sit around to do whenever we want. With Farmlands just down the road you can take them in and get the results back quickly.” Andrew says they do tests every two weeks during the busy lamb fattening period. “We need to know quite quickly if there are any issues, because we have a lot of lambs here and if we decide to drench it takes a wee bit of organising.” | Farmlander | 47


LACTATION Feeding in the big dry

Keeping cows milking with an eye on body condition score to ensure days in milk are optimised, without risking next year’s production, will be paramount in the weeks and months ahead.

48 | Farmlander |



required if feeding conserved forages like maize silage, or if pasture protein levels plummet due to water stress. DDGs has a taste or smell cows love, which encourages intake in the dairy shed and helps mask the unpalatable taste of some minerals like magnesium and zinc oxide. Grains are more energy dense and provide fermentable energy, which supports milk protein production or weight gain (Fonterra estimate that for the 2023/24 season the payment per kg of fat will be 83 percent of the payment per kgMS of protein). Soya hulls and citrus pulp pellets offer a different form of fermentable energy, being richer in pectins than grains, which is considered to be a safer form of fermentable energy than starch.

Being able to respond appropriately and quickly in terms of base supplementary feed and any additives to changing challenges, normally pays dividends. In some regions this summer, dairy cows could be facing a perfect storm without the benefits of rainfall – sub-optimal pasture quantity or quality, compounded by assault from toxins and heat stress. FECPAKG2 sample packs for faecal egg counts are now available in stores that can be used for a facial eczema spore count. These can help to show if the facial eczema risk has decreased enough for full rate zinc oxide treatment to be discontinued, based on what the cows have been eating rather than pasture counts. A suite of rumen modifiers and antioxidants are available to help cows suffering heat stress. Experience has shown that if they are going to help, the response is pretty quick. Mouldy silage can be tested for mycotoxins too, but comprehensive testing can be expensive and slow unless sampled very well - it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack. Often, it’s better to just try a mycotoxin binder – mycotoxin binders shield the animal from toxins, so either they will work quickly or not at all.



espite the re-introduction of the FEI (Fat Evaluation Index) penalty charges by Fonterra, we are likely to see increased rates of PKE fed to dairy cows to help fill the feed pinch, that drier than predicted conditions may create in some regions. The response to supplementary feed is greater when pasture covers and feed-out losses are lower. The typical response to supplementary feeds of 70-80g MS/kg DM includes conserved forages with higher substitution rates (may have higher NDF percent than the pasture on offer) and feed-out losses (which can be up to 40 percent for feeding out in the paddock in wet conditions) than would be expected from hard feed (straights, blends and compound feeds fed in the dairy shed or trailers). In Northland a Dairy NZ Farmlet trial (DairyNZ Technical Series Issue 44) reported the response to PKE over three years was 122g MS/kg DM of supplementary feed (ranging from 106 to 140g MS/kg DM). Substitution may have actually increased the pasture eaten by helping pasture recovery. A Taranaki Farmlet trial (Inside Dairy June 2021) also calculated 140g MS/ kg DM from PKE (in troughs) and 160g MS/kg DM from a blend in the 2018/19 season. PKE has undoubtedly made a huge difference to the diet of cows in NZ and makes a good base for blends and compound feed for summer use, especially when a feed deficit is likely. Other straights such as Sunflower Pellets and Distillers Dark Grains (DDGs) offer additional protein, which may be

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YOUNGSTOCK Tackling feeding challenges

Balancing the feed needs for youngstock during summer is a critical aspect of farming in New Zealand. Summer poses several unique challenges that can impact the growth and health of young calves, and addressing these requires careful planning, monitoring and a well-balanced diet. WORDS BY KAREN FRASER








for your youngstock. They can offer guidance on optimising the nutritional balance and addressing specific challenges on your farm. Maintaining a well-balanced and nutritious diet during their first two years of life is crucial to youngstock achieving their full potential. Remember, poor nutrition and growth during their early stages can have a lasting impact. By addressing specific challenges and ensuring quality feed is available, you can support healthy development and minimise long-term growth issues. Karen is a Farmlands Technical Specialist and one of “The Calf Experts” on Facebook.






are available to help animals cope with oxidative stress and rumen dysfuntion resulting from excess ambient temperatures. Supplementary feeding: Highquality options like grass silage and well-balanced compound calf feeds are great supplementary options to consider. These can help meet the energy and protein requirements of youngstock when pasture quality is low. Balanced nutrition: Ensure that the feed you provide is wellbalanced, containing the essential nutrients for growth, such as vitamins (A,D,E,K and B groups), calcium, copper, selenium and phosphorus. Don’t overlook the importance of these micronutrients in calf development. Calf feed options: Pelletised calf feeds like NRM and Reliance can provide dense, highly digestible nutrition. These feeds are formulated to support growth and can help combat issues like coccidiosis. Consultation: It’s a good idea to consult with your local experts, such as Farmlands Technical Field Officers or Nutrition Specialists, to create a tailored feeding plan



n this article we’ll delve deeper into these challenges and effective strategies to overcome them. Pasture management: As pasture quality decreases during the summer, it’s important to closely monitor the forage available to youngstock. Be aware of the increasing fibre content, and reduced protein and nutrient availability in the pasture. Regular weighing: This can help identify any growth issues early on. It also allows for timely intervention when necessary to prevent stunted growth. Health issues: Trust your instincts and act early. If something doesn’t feel right, it often isn’t. Young calves may suffer from vitamin B deficiencies and summer scour, often caused by Yersinia, parasites and coccidiosis. These health problems can significantly slow down growth and hinder development. Heat stress: High temperatures can reduce feed intake in young animals, so ensure that calves have access to shade and cool, clean water to help them cope with heat stress. Nutritional options



alf E xper ts on

c Fa

eb | Farmlander | 51


CALF HEALTH Getting calf marking right

Seeing youngsters thrive is not only rewarding, it’s also important for setting a good platform for future production and performance success. WORDS BY FARMLANDS ANIMAL HEALTH TECHNICAL TEAM


remium calf health is supported by implementing routine husbandry practices and carrying out necessary treatments in a timely manner. 'Calf Marking’ is just one of these practices and can include: earmarking, ear tagging, disbudding or dehorning and castration. Here is some key information you need to know: • Ear tagging provides a unique individual identity for more accurate record keeping, performance measures, tracking and monitoring treatments, supporting biosecurity and providing on-farm traceability. All calves,

ANIMAL WELFARE OBLIGATIONS FOR PAINFUL HUSBANDRY PROCEDURES IN CATTLE This factsheet is a summary of the Code of Welfare: Painful Husbandry Procedures published by MPI. (Link at the bottom of the page)

From May 2021 these are the new MINIMUM STANDARDS The section below the red line is recommended best practice. No painful procedures to be performed on animals under 12 hours old. For more detailed information on minimum standards and best practice guidelines please refer to Animal Welfare (Painful Husbandry Procedures) Code of Welfare available from MPI Tel: 0800 008 333 or protection-and-response/animalwelfare/codes-of-welfare/

52 | Farmlander |

either within 180 days of their birth, or before their first off-farm movement (whichever comes first), must receive a NAIT tag. The exception is bobby calves destined for slaughter within 30 days. Some calves are ear-marked with a permanent notch using special pliers. This is where the ‘mark’ is legally registered to the property owner, and assists in verification of stock ownership. Samples for DNA testing could also be taken at this time. • Choosing to castrate bull calves to become steers can help reduce aggressive behaviour, minimise pressures


Pain relief MUST be used if animals are over six months old


Use correct size of rubber ring • Ring above testes and below teats • If using high tension band then anaesthetic must be used (any age)

RECOMMENDED BEST PRACTICE Always use pain relief for any age

Work hygienically

Seek veterinary advice on best methods


Disbudding Thermal cauterising or chemical techniques must not damage animal tissue beyond the bud

Dehorning Method must mimimise pain, distress and risk of infection

Local anaesthetic authorised by a vet MUST be used on animals of all ages when disbudding or dehorning.

RECOMMENDED BEST PRACTICE Animals should be disbudded in preference to being dehorned Use wound dressings to prevent blood loss when dehorning

Use pain relief for any age when disbudding or dehorning

Apply rubber rings to neck of scrotum between 1-4 weeks of age

Inspect animals during healing period after dehorning and treat infected wounds

No rubber rings after four months of age

If in doubt, seek veterinary advice on best methods


on fencing and helps to reduce unwanted breeding. Castration can be carried out by several methods such as using a rubber ring within the first three weeks of birth as this is the least stressful time. Ensure both testicles are down before releasing the ring. Under the code of animal welfare, when castrating an animal greater than six months of age, pain relief must be used. • To avoid accidents, injuries and fatalities, to either animals or people, disbudding or dehorning is performed. The best practice and optimal age for disbudding is under eight weeks of age. Or, for dehorning once the bud attaches to the skull after eight weeks of age. It is a mandatory requirement under New Zealand regulations to administer adequate pain relief, regardless of age. Alternatively, using polled breeds would avoid the need to dehorn or disbud.

• Offering calves electrolytes like Reliance Blue Boost after stressful yarding procedures can help to rehydrate a stressed animal and minimise checks in performance. • To help safeguard against infection and blood poisoning from clostridial disease, it is highly recommended that calves are given an initial two dose primary vaccination course followed by an annual booster. For example, Multine or Multine B12 should be given from weaning for best coverage. • Administration of a lice treatment such as Blaze pour-on in the autumn when lice numbers are lower prior to the winter helps manage this pest better while targeting pesky flies too. • Late summer and autumn parasites can be a challenge. Therefore, continually monitor calves for worms, using the FECPAKG2 test packs, and administer preferably an oral triple worm drench as indicated by the test results. • It is best to know your animal welfare codes of compliance and regulations, including transportation requirements of any horned animals. animals/animal-welfare/ For further information on any of these products and recommendations, please contact your local Technical Field Officer or Farmlands store.

MEET YOUR CALVING TARGETS THIS AUTUMN Get your stock healthy and set up your future income with expert advice and an exceptional range of high-quality feed.

Call your Farmlands TFO or Nutrition Specialist today to arrange a visit and get set for autumn.

In association with Iplex

STOCK WATER – getting it right! We all know adequate amounts of water are needed to maintain good levels of production and stock health. Limiting water intake reduces animal

performance quicker and more drastically than any other nutrient deficiency. Understanding the optimal water requirements of your stock and the

components that make up a reticulated water system are vitally important. Reticulated stock water systems are designed around the availability of water for both the stock’s daily requirement and peak demand. Sizing the pipe to meet the peak demand, ensures the system delivers the correct amount of water to the trough. System components include the water source, which can be either spring, stream, or bore, with the intake into the pipe system being powered by gravity, mechanical or electric means, including solar in more remote locations. Water storage is either in tanks or dams with the reticulation system being typically metric OD polyethene pipe, compression fittings and valves, delivering water into troughs. Water monitoring systems that measure storage and flow are a great way of managing your stock water system. A thorough farm survey is required to establish best pipe route, metres of pipe required and changes in vertical elevation, to determine pipe diameter and pressure rating. Farmlands are your first port of call regarding advice on developing, upgrading, or maintaining an efficient stock water system.

Your stock water reticulation system is too valuable an asset and productivity tool to second guess what will and won’t work. Seek professional advice from your Farmlands TFO or the friendly team at your local Farmlands store. They'll provide you with all the information you need to book a FREE stock water design consultation.

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SHEEP FEED Compound feed options

Cow collars and ear tags have allowed many dairy farmers to manage by exception, focusing their limited resources on the few animals whose metrics are outside the norm. To a lesser degree, the ability to mob sheep according to their needs gives sheep farmers some flexibility to also manage by exception. BY DR ROB DERRICK


aving the ability to feed according to need increases the potential to fine-tune management for mobs or even individual sheep. The NRM sheep range has been extended over recent years to reflect the different needs of sheep according to their stage of life, pasture supply and level of production. With tailored options for lambing, tupping and drought, don’t be afraid to ask your TFO or store for something out of season if it specifically meets your needs. As mill owners, Farmlands has the capacity and commitment to produce what our customers require when they need it. Even when flock numbers increase it’s possible to manage by exception.

This means monitoring body condition and managing accordingly, to boost weight gain or fertility. By-and-large, sheep are good convertors of New Zealand pasture, but supplementary feed offers a buffer against unpredictable weather and another level of nutrition which can be targeted at those that need it the most. If body condition is slipping or if some weight gain is required, NRM Sheep Nuts are a useful high grainbased feed which is typically fed at up to 150g/head/day. If a drought really takes hold, NRM Summer Dry Nuts can be fed at higher rates and deliver more protein to help balance more mature conserved forages, which may have to be fed alongside

Specification of NRM Sheep Range PRODUCT

Energy MJ ME/kg DM

Crude Protein %

Designed use

Sheep Nuts



Whenever quality or quantity of forages available is insufficient for the class of sheep being fed.

Summer Dry Nuts



Primarily to fill a feed pinch during a dry or hot spell when higher levels of feeding are required.

Pre-Tup Nuts



To supplement the flock prior to and through mating with added rumen-protected fat for energy.

Triplet Nuts



High energy and protein supplement for ewes that are carrying triplets or feeding multiple lambs.

Lamb Start Mix



Delicious Moozlee style textured starter feed for bottle-reared lambs.

Lamb Performance Pellets



Pellets for bottle-reared lambs or for lambs or ewes that need a creep feed or boost at any time.

limited grazing. As a 10mm nut, they are well suited to being fed on the ground with minimal waste. NRM Sheep Pre-Tup Nuts are – as the name suggests – designed for feeding to ewes and rams four to six weeks before and during tupping (mating). If the weather or irrigation obliges by providing good quality pasture before mating they may not be necessary but if pasture quality or supply is sub-optimal, or if ewes need an extra lift after a hard period, they are well worth considering at least for the most needy within a flock. NRM Sheep Pre-Tup Nuts contain elevated trace mineral and vitamin levels to help minimise the risk of deficiencies that might impact on health and fertility at this important time. The complete range of NRM Sheep Nuts is available from your local Farmlands store and online at | Farmlander | 55










Ruled by their biological clock Of all the farmed species, deer are governed the most by their biological clock. Feeding must be tailored to the natural rhythms of the seasons to optimise performance. BY DR ROB DERRICK


ean, mean growing machines, deer really need good quality feed to perform well in terms of reproduction, growth and maximum antler production. Red deer hinds initiate ovulation and oestrous in mid to late March. Although hinds can produce a calf annually to an age of 15-17 years, reproductive wastage is one of the biggest causes of lost revenue potential. With few twins to make up for non-calvers, on average adult hinds wean 84-86 calves per 100 hinds mated, compared to about 70-75 for first calvers. Good nutrition can optimise conceptions early in their season, which increases the chance of earlierborn calves reaching acceptable weights at weaning time the following season. The principal cause of failure is considered to be poor nutrition and low body condition score. Ensure hinds are in good body condition score (Body Condition Score >3.5) prior to and during mating. A BCS <3 is associated with a delay to mating and reduced conception. Outside of extensive and hill country farms, pre-rut weaning of calves allows hinds to divert feed from lactation to improving BCS. Weaning early can help to reduce the total feed demand, which may be important in a dry season. Improved feeding needs to start three to four weeks before the mating season starts to have a chance of hinds gaining the 10kg liveweight

or so required per BCS gain. Infertile, sub-fertile or low-libido stags can be part of the problem, so it’s important they have body reserves to see them through the rut. Feeding supplements to hinds before weaning supports milk production and helps to associate the fawns with the feed, which can be continued post-weaning for both the weaners and hinds if necessary. If feed is short, some dominant animals will gorge supplementary feed even when spread out, and shy feeders may need to be separated. Weaners present the challenge of reduced appetite through the winter, so it is recommended to monitor growth rates against targets and change management if needed. Live weight on 1 June can be a good indication of the potential slaughter weight and date. Stress associated with weaning, parasitism, trace mineral deficiencies and underfeeding can increase susceptibility to yersiniosis. As in the dairy industry, PKE has found a role within the deer sector to help fill a simple feed deficit. For higher levels of production, nutritional complexity is normally a good thing and now improved blend availability offers a range of options, right through to fully compound feed. Whilst energy is normally the first limiting factor for growth, hinds and weaners that have fallen behind targets may also benefit from additional protein, minerals, trace elements and vitamins.

NRM deer feeds offer the advantages of processed grains delivered with major minerals, trace elements and vitamins, in addition to a range of protein levels to suit need. Formulated in response to the Cervena standard, NRM has two products for deer which have been formulated free from non-genetically modified crops and by-products. With 12 percent crude protein, NRM Deer Performance Nuts are a good option to complement high protein pasture or forage crops. If pasture quality is impacted by dry weather, NRM Deer Elite Nuts with 16 percent crude protein should be considered for weaners, hinds in milk and stags. Both Deer Elite and Deer Performance Nuts are available in-store at Farmlands and online at | Farmlander | 57


BARBER’S POLE WORM Spreading across NZ

Haemonchus contortus or Barber’s Pole worm is an important productionlimiting parasite for the New Zealand sheep farmer. Although previously only thought about in northern areas, Barber’s Pole is now more widespread across the country, including the northern half of the South Island. WORDS BY SEAN DALY


he Barber’s Pole worm sucks blood, causing anaemia and death. This blood loss is estimated at 0.5 mL per worm per day, which is significant when worm counts of the Barber’s Pole worm in sheep can be in the thousands. Barber’s Pole worms also produce a lot of eggs, rapidly infesting pasture. These two things combined mean that disease from the Barber’s Pole worm can be quick and severe in the right conditions. Signs of Barber’s Pole infestation include weakness, shortness of breath, depression and pale mucus membranes. The easiest place to check for paleness is the mucus membranes around the eyes. If you see these signs; you’re in an area known for Barber’s Pole challenge; and you’ve had warm wet conditions contributing to significant parasite challenge; then treatment for Barber’s Pole is indicated. A post-mortem

of dead lambs is another way to diagnose Barber’s Pole worm. Because of the large numbers of infective larvae and the severity of disease, the standard 28-day drenching program with a shortacting drench is insufficient to cope with these high levels of challenge. You need to use a product with persistent efficacy against the Barber’s Pole worm, often containing moxidectin. Moxidectin has persistent activity for 35 days after drenching against Barber’s Pole worm, killing incoming parasites before they can do significant damage. A recent survey* of New Zealand drench tests has shown that the Barber’s Pole worm had no diagnosed resistance to moxidectin. This gives farmers confidence that moxidectin will still protect their sheep against Barber’s Pole worm including a products persistent activity claims.

ABOUT SEAN DALY Sean is the Business Development Manager – Animal Health at Donaghys. Sean graduated from vet school in 2002 and enjoys working with farmers and TFOs to solve their unique animal health challenges on farm and maximise their productivity. *

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Donaghys Moxam Oral 10L Moxam Oral contains moxidectin for controlling a farmers Barber’s Pole worm problem. Moxam gives 35 days persistent activity against Barber’s Pole worm and comes in an easy to use 1 mL per 10 kg formulation reducing dose volume and the amount of product having to be transported and stored on farm. It has a 10 day meat withhold giving farmers with trading lambs flexibility with their drafting dates. Donaghys Moxam is exclusive to Farmlands. See in-store or contact your local TFO for more information.

Watching over your pastures so you don’t have to. Delivering a complete suite of pasture protection and brushweed control products for New Zealand farmers.

Samuel Whitelock – Plant Science Graduate, Lincoln University. Our portfolio of powerful, proven products has helped farmers from one end of the country to the other create and maintain thriving businesses, and has earned us an excellent reputation as pasture protection and brushweed specialists. Our extensive suite of herbicides provides farmers everything they need to win the war against weeds and brushweeds. Visit your local Farmlands store today to find out more. View our online pasture and brushweed resources at







Versatill™ POWERFLO™


Tordon™ 2G GOLD





Vigilant™ II



Trademark of Corteva Agriscience and its affiliated companies Always follow the label as directed. ©Copyright 2023 Corteva.



PASTURE MANAGEMENT Pasture management is a crucial part of farming, and even more important during a drought. Here’s a step-by step guide for getting it right during challenging conditions WORDS BY FARMLANDS AGRONOMY TEAM

Should I have an autumn regrassing programme?


The ryegrass variety and endophyte you purchase will depend on your farming system, insect/pest challenges, climate, topography and livestock policy. You’ll also need to understand the different ryegrass functions to help fill your feed deficit, e.g. annual vs hybrid vs perennial ryegrass. Homegrown feed is obviously cheaper than imported feed, but runout pastures, and pastures burnt out from drought or other events, are too costly not to be producing pasture.

CRUCIAL® to add Pulse® Penetrant Adding Nufarm Pulse Penetrant to CRUCIAL significantly speeds up herbicide uptake in ryegrass. Pulse Penetrant reduces the surface tension of the spray solution to such a low level that it flows easily through stomata (tiny pores in the leaf). CRUCIAL tank mixed with Pulse Penetrant will deliver

commercially acceptable weed control even if light rain occurs just 15 minutes after spraying. No other glyphosate can match this standard and is backed by Nufarm’s commercial performance guarantee.

Decision Tree Excellent pasture quality


No need to regrass, apply maintenance fertilizer


Autumn weed/insect spray program to keep pasture clean


Stitch in Italian or hybrid rye grass. DAP down spout + maintenance fertilizer + weed/ insect spray program.


Spring cropping in 2 or more years


Spray out, sow annual rye grass. DAP down spout + maintenance fertilizer.


Spring cropping program


Autumn regrassing program, full renewal, hybrid to perennial. DAP + maintenance fertilizer


Spring cropping in 2+ years or perennial pasture


20-30% reversion/weeds NO

40—50% reversion/weeds NO

50%+ reversion/weeds run out pasture

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Forge NEA – performance in all seasons Forge NEA Hybrid Agricote™ by Barenbrug is the phenomenal three-to-five-year pasture, bred to deliver stock performance your neighbours will envy, with environmental benefits too. Yielding at least 14 per cent more than all other cultivars in the National Forage Variety Trials (NFVT), Forge is a breakthrough in genetic gain, giving this extra yield and quality across all seasons. Forge’s cool season yield is unbeaten. In autumn it grows 15-46 percent more than other hybrid ryegrasses in the NFVT system; and 15-37 percent more in winter.

A feed budget is a great place to start identifying feed shortages, and to help with the pasture renewal process. Opposite is a decision tree to help simplify the autumn regrassing process. Any regrassing and cropping program should be done in conjunction with a soil and herbage test to ensure the best possible result from your investment. Consult with your local Farmlands Technical Field Officer to discuss the available options that will work for your farm.

Establishing new pasture To establish a new ryegrass pasture successfully, several factors must be considered to ensure optimal growth. These considerations include, but are not limited to: 1. Soil nutritional status 2. Paddock preparation 3. Soil temperature 4. Paddock history 5. Sowing depth Conducting a soil test well in advance of the sowing date (around six months beforehand) is advisable. This test will reveal any deficiencies in the soil of nutrients critical for successful pasture establishment. Additionally, an examination of the paddock's history should be conducted to rule out any

chemical residues that may hinder grass establishment. The importance of paddock preparation should not be underestimated. It is imperative the paddock is level and free of weeds to create a uniform seedbed. This ensures minimal competition during establishment and helps to make sure the seeds are sown at the correct depth throughout the paddock. Ideally, new pasture should be sown when the soil temperature is between 10-12°C, to compete effectively with weeds. Ryegrass is less sensitive to sowing depth compared to clovers and can be sown at a depth of 20mm. However, when combined with clover, it is advisable to sow it at a depth of 5-10mm to facilitate correct clover establishment. Maximising seed-to-soil contact increases the chances of germination. Phosphate and nitrogen (N) are pivotal nutrients for pasture establishment. Phosphate is crucial for root development, while nitrogen encourages grasses to tiller and promotes growth. Clover in the new pasture will not fix enough N to meet demand during the first 12 months. Therefore, it is essential to apply N in small quantities, taking care not to over-apply as this can suppress clover growth.


The Sultan of seeds Sultan™ by RAGT offers a new level of productivity from annual ryegrass. It offers a lower sowing cost for higher winter feed and carrying capacity. One of its distinguishing features within this category is that it is a diploid type. The majority of annual ryegrasses are tetraploids, requiring a much higher sowing rate than Sultan. This can typically be between 25-30kg per hectare for a tetraploid type compared with 18kg per hectare with Sultan. | Farmlander | 61

Monitoring your new pasture Vigilant monitoring of the crop is imperative to ensure diseases and pests do not hinder pasture establishment. Approximately six weeks after drilling, a new ryegrass pasture should be ready for grazing, depending on factors such as soil temperature, seedbed preparation, and cultivar. The initial grazing should follow a pluck test, simulating an animal tearing a mouthful of pasture. If the leaves break off without uprooting the plants, the pasture is ready for the first grazing. It should be grazed to a height of 5-6 cm. This will encourage grass tillering and allows light to reach the clover, promoting stolon development. Delaying grazing can result in reducing ryegrass tiller numbers, clover content and pasture quality. Grazing in the autumn with lighter animals while the ground is still relatively dry consolidates soft seedbeds. Delaying grazing until winter, when the soil is wet and using heavy animals, can cause soil and pasture damage. Studies have shown grazing at high stock density on wet soils can reduce subsequent pasture production by up to 45 percent in the following year.

Undersowing drought-affected or damaged pastures If your pastures are looking tired and run out, then undersowing could be the answer for you. It’s fast, relatively cheap and you can cover a big area of ground without losing much feed in the process. In an undersowing situation, shorter term cultivars such as annuals, Italians and hybrids are ideal due to their ability to rocket out of the ground, produce bulk high-quality feed and be ready for grazing before winter.

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Autumn is often a busy season for undersowing, and this year is no exception due to the significant pasture damage incurred last winter, and the dry summer we are currently experiencing.

Key considerations when undersowing • Condition score pastures: assess how much rye/ clover is in the paddock. If something needs to be done, decide what species is the best fit for the situation. Will the paddock be cropped the following spring, or are you looking at 18 to 24 months or something even longer term? • Timing: don’t delay, as weeds will take hold faster than you realise and fill the gaps in paddocks that need to be undersown. This also gives the cultivar you’ve drilled more time to establish before winter as well. Undersow after hard grazing and sow at 50-75 percent of the normal rate (using more seed in thinner pastures). Graze normally, to prevent seedlings from being shaded. • Slugbait: slugbait is a key insurance policy and putting a sack out overnight to detect slugs will help you make this decision. • Treated seed: for the first six weeks until the endophyte starts functioning, seed treatments will protect new seedlings from insects such as Argentine stem weevil and any diseases that may be present. Withholding for undersown pastures is three weeks compared to six weeks for new pastures. • Fertiliser: sowing with a starter fertiliser such as DAP will help in establishing the ryegrass seedlings as the phosphate promotes root development and the nitrogen helps speed things up.


Fertiliser A sound fertiliser programme should be implemented based on soil and herbage test data and take into account land and farm type, production data, environmental issues and legislation – at both a local and national level. In a tough economic environment, with income down and expenditure up, it’s important to prioritise where your money is spent. Fertiliser is often the first area to be reduced. If cuts are to be made, make sure you look after newer pastures, high-performance production areas and crops. Maximising your investment is key to maintaining productivity.

Key things to keep in mind with your fertiliser programme • Soil and herbage test data will show which nutrients are limiting pasture production and animal performance. These tests should be done at the same time at least every two years following the same transect lines to graph a trend over time. • The nitrogen cap of 190 units, alongside compliance and feed budgeting, will help predict a feed shortage and assist with strategic nitrogen application. • In a high-rainfall area during autumn and winter, avoid easily leached products e.g. sulphate sulphur vs elemental sulphur.

• Apply trace elements at the right time e.g. cooler autumn and winter temperatures will have reduced clover activity, potassium will be better applied and utilised with a spring application. • Increased productivity comes at a price; fertiliser inputs need to be increased to sustain this. • If fertiliser nutrient levels have been mined or are going to be mined, this will need to be addressed in future fertiliser applications. • Your farm type will dictate fertiliser application timing e.g. winter lamb contracts = autumn application, breeding and early revenue stock = spring application. Pasture and crops need to be excellent quality at the right time for best utilisation. • Maintenance fertiliser and split applications in spring and autumn are an option to get trace elements on at the right time and help with cash flow. • Don’t forget about soil pH. If it is too low, vital nutrients are locked up in the soil and weeds will also become an issue. There are various fertiliser products that can be used, or blends that can be put together to correct the nutrient or mineral deficiency in your soil. To improve soil health status, talk to your local Farmlands Technical Field Officer and Ballance representative to help prioritise your fertiliser application.

Plan for every scenario with a farmlands AGRONOMY EXPERT Get the best return from your inputs this season by talking to your Farmlands TFO and expert Agronomy team. They’ll help you plan for what’s around the corner. Prepare for Autumn: Buy any two inputs of seed, Ballance Fertiliser or AgChem and be in the draw to win a share of $100,000 Ballance Fertiliser.* Call your TFO today to book a visit with a Farmlands Agronomy Expert or email:

*Terms and conditions apply

In association with Barenbrug

SO MUCH MORE THAN GRASS! You don’t just buy ‘grass’ when you invest in these Elite pasture seed prepacks. Every bag is backed by science, knowledge of different farm systems and care for the environment. Sow them with confidence. Maxsyn NEA4 prepack

Governor AR37 prepack

White clover

DIPLOID PERENNIAL For superb persistence and abundant growth, with an animal friendly endophyte. • Maxsyn NEA4 has proven high yield, and shines in summer and autumn. Superior summer tillering helps persistence, and lifts autumn growth, while giving extra warm season feed. The difference is easy to see - Maxsyn stays green longer into summer. • Densely tillered, its more even growth makes it easier to graze in spring, and keeps Maxsyn thick and strong for the year ahead. Staggersfree NEA4 endophyte provides good control of insects.

DIPLOID PERENNIAL For a trusty, multi-purpose pasture with proven performance across many years, it’s shown to grow robust, high quality feed year-round. • Fine leaved and persistent, Governor AR37 perennial ryegrass is the tried and true all-rounder, with good spring and autumn growth. It's densely tillered and helpful in wet situations, protecting your soil from treading damage. • AR37 endophyte is recommended for dairy, sheep and beef systems but not for pasture grazed by deer or horses due to the risk of ryegrass staggers.

All of these packs come with two prolific white clovers. Kotuku is a large leaved, fast establishing white clover with exceptional yield. Ruru is a medium leaved spreading cultivar growing more protein in summer, with extra nitrogen fixation too.

Maxsyn/4front prepack DIPLOID/TETRAPLOID PERENNIAL MIX Your unique blend of tetraploid and diploid perennial ryegrasses, delicious, productive with good persistence. • Maxsyn and 4front are unbeaten in the industry National Forage Variety Trials for diploid and tetraploid perennial ryegrass yield. • Animals love 4front, so it helps them eat more for better performance and a lighter farm footprint. Maxsyn increases pasture density and makes the mixture more robust. • NEA4 endophyte in Maxsyn and NEA2 in 4front give superior staggers-free animal performance and good insect control.

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For pasture advice, talk to your Farmlands Technical Field Officer or Agronomy Expert. Visit for more perrennial ryegrass information and products.

In association with Agricom

A PERSISTENT AND PRODUCTIVE PERENNIAL Reason, Agricom’s latest commercially available perennial ryegrass has been specifically developed for its resilience, offering farmers a way to farm into the future.

Derived from plants screened in Northland, Waikato, Manawatu and Canterbury, Reason is a new mid-heading (+3), high performance diploid perennial ryegrass. With added benefits of low aftermath heading in summer and consistent productivity throughout summer and autumn. Highly robust, Reason AR37 also demonstrates improved tolerance to pugging, Argentine stem weevil and overgrazing. Reason showcases excellent rust tolerance during summer and autumn, and the added protection from AR37 endophyte gives the new grass a ‘reason’ to persist in some of New Zealand’s more challenging growing conditions. Ideal for sheep and beef systems, Reason’s heading date of +3 makes it well suited for early lambing areas, especially across the east coast and high hill country when an early spring flush is crucial. The cultivars tiller density and ability to return to a vegetative state quickly, makes it a perfect fit for early lambing areas subjected to set stocking, improving late spring and summer finishing capabilities compared to traditional types. In a dairy system, Reason stands out as an excellent option for those seeking earlier heading date varieties.

As a diploid ryegrass, it exhibits resilience against grazing cows, similar to popular late heading dairy options like ONE50. Farmers can also expect sustained productivity throughout summer and autumn due to its low aftermath heading. For optimal results, Reason pairs well with herbs and legumes such as Ecotain® environmental plantain, Relish red clover, and Attribute white clover in both sheep and beef, as well as dairy systems.

To determine if Reason is a suitable fit for your system, contact your local Farmlands Technical Field Officer. | Farmlander | 65

In association with Nufarm

Wouldn’t it be great to be able to extend the life of your newly-sown pasture with just one simple step this autumn? The good news is, you can. Just add broadleaf weed control to your to-do list for the weeks ahead. As Nufarm Territory Manager Richard Bell points out, early weed competition shortens the longevity of your new pasture before you and your animals even get a chance to really appreciate it. It’s no good for feed quality or dry matter (DM) yield either. “Complete loss of new pasture to weeds is rare. But it is very easy to underestimate both their immediate and ongoing impact if they are left uncontrolled. “The moment weeds germinate, they start taking light, space, moisture and nutrients from newly sown seedlings. This can cause your new pasture to never become new pasture, because it becomes weed infested instead.” Richard says while the sprays typically used before sowing new grass do an excellent job of cleaning

up weeds that are already growing, they have no effect on weed seed hidden in the soil. Hence the need to spray most new pastures after they have emerged. There’s no such thing as being too watchful for these potential intruders once your grass and clover seed is drilled, Richard says: “The sooner you spot a problem, the faster and easier it is to remedy.” And you can’t get too close to them either. What looks like a nice green haze of germinating pasture from the farm bike or the ute is not always what it seems. So his advice is to get down on your hands and knees in the paddock and find out exactly which species are coming through the soil. “Accurate weed identification also helps determine which herbicides are right for your situation, if you need them”, Richard says.

Richard Bell.

Then what? Get organised to apply broadleaf herbicide before the first full grazing of your new pasture. This is the most effective time to control those rogue weeds. “Tribal® Gold is an ideal option at this time. If you want a broader weed spectrum and/or need to control hard to kill weeds like chickweed, shepherd’s purse and buttercup, this is the herbicide to turn to.” Richard says Thistrol® Plus has a narrower weed spectrum and is also very effective before the first full grazing. Valdo® 800WG can be added if needed to extend the range of weeds controlled. Dictate™ 480 can also be useful for early weed control in new pastures and new pastures containing plantain. It is most effective on weeds like storksbill, chamomile and stinking mayweed. After the first full grazing, Baton® 800WSG is formulated to kill larger, more advanced weeds, and has a very broad spectrum. “It is more clover-friendly than other 2,4-D formulations, but young clover leaves must be properly grazed before application.” Bonza® Gold should always be used with Tribal Gold and Valdo 800WG. Talk to your Farmlands Technical Field Officer or Agronomist for more advice on protecting autumn-sown pasture from weed competition this season. Article supplied by Nufarm. ®Tribal, Baton, Bonza, Thistrol and Valdo are registered trademarks of Nufarm Limited. ™Dictate is a trademarks of Nufarm Limited

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In association with PGG Wrightson Seeds

THE PASTURE THAT BREAKS ALL THE RULES Whoever said watching grass grow was boring, needs to check out Vast tetraploid perennial ryegrass.

Vast is the latest grass from PGG Wrightson Seeds, and it’s breaking all the rules. It’s the next generation in tetraploid perennial ryegrass breeding, delivering the ultimate combination of density, quality, production and grazing preference, plus it has an EXTREMELY late heading date of +36 days, putting it in a league of its own.

Vast comes stacked with benefits: • Strong annual production with exceptional summer and autumn productivity • Extremely late heading date (+36 days) boosting late season pasture quality • Diploid-level tiller density to enhance persistence • Tetraploid grazing preference to drive palatability • Excellent rust tolerance to improve summer and autumn palatability

Vast was carefully selected by PGG Wrightson Seeds plant breeders for low levels of seed head production through the summer months. Vast delivers a short, sharp peak of seed heads, followed by a leafy, high-quality sward that has a significant positive impact on summer pasture quality!

With the unique advantage of improved spring and summer dry matter, excellent rust tolerance and low levels of aftermath seed heading, Vast gives you leafy, exceptional quality feed, for longer. This all adds up to a slower post-peak decline in milksolids production for spring calving dairy herds, better ewe lactational performance, heavier lambs at weaning and improved weaned lamb growth rates.

This season, Vast with AR37 endophyte is available in Farmlands Supreme Pasture Packs with white clovers. Talk to your local Farmlands store to see if Vast will be a good fit on your farm this season. | Farmlander | 67

Lay of the land

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In this section We speak to Industry experts for practical on-farm advice, and meet Farmlands shareholders embracing cutting-edge technology and innovative farming practices. Photo: Remark Imagery


Follow the journey of two Central Otago winegrowers who have joined the growing organic wine movement.


Meet the Toyota engineer-turned dairy farmer on a mission to boost efficiency in our rural sector.


Learn about key trends in the animal nutrition space, including a shift to a more science-based approach. | Farmlander | 69

As global demand for organic food and beverages continues to rise, Central Otago is becoming a hotbed of organic winemaking. We spoke to local winegrowers Domain Road Vineyard and Domaine Thomson Wines about their organic journey. WORDS BY NIKO KLOETEN


rganic growing is more than just ‘flavour of the month’; it’s one of the biggest trends in horticulture. A report released last year by Grand View Research forecast the global organic food and beverage market would nearly triple in size from US$208 billion in 2022 to US$564 billion in 2030, a compound annual growth rate of 11.7 percent per year. If that forecast proves to be accurate, winegrowers in Central Otago are well positioned for the organic revolution. Figures from Organic Winegrowers NZ show that around a quarter of the land used for vineyards in Central Otago (26 percent) is under organic certification, compared to the national average of 10 percent. Domain Road Vineyard is about to join the ranks of Central Otago organic winegrowers, with this year’s harvest set to be its first under organic certification. Vineyard Manager Steven Crosbie says “for the longest time” he has had a passion for organic growing. “I can remember trying to grow fruit and vegetables as a teenager, tried to use as few chemicals as possible, and that has carried on through to my grape growing.” Steven took this passion with him as he worked in several organic vineyards around the world before December

70 | Farmlander |


2020, when the opportunity came up to manage his family’s vineyard in Bannockburn. “I’ve always said that when that opportunity came up, I would convert us to organics. I’ve been pushing my parents for 10 or more years to do it.” His parents, Graeme and Gillian Crosbie, had been holidaying in Bannockburn for many years before they started the vineyard in 2002, next door to the popular Bannockburn Domain Camping Ground. In 2012 they bought another vineyard on nearby Felton Road, bringing their total growing operation to about 14ha. “We have had a three-year conversion process, so 2024 will be our first organic harvest,” Steven says. He estimates organic growing to be about 30 percent more expensive, mainly due to increased labour costs, as certain inputs have decreased while others have increased. “The main thing we focus on throughout the growing season is trying to keep the canopy open. Sunlight and airflow are your biggest friends really. It starts off at the beginning of the season with shoot thinning, then we carry on to leaf plucking. Just lots of canopy management practices.” Farmlands Technical Advisor Bevan Meiklejohn echoes the importance of canopy management for organic

LAY OF THE LAND | Organic vineyards

Simon Gourley of Domaine Thomson is passionate about organic winemaking.

winemaking. “They need to be onto it. If they’re not, they’re not going to be organic growers for very long.” He says one of the key areas Farmlands is working on with organic winegrowers is plant nutrition. “It’s all about looking after plant health and soil health because the healthier the plant, the better equipped it to fight off pests and disease, so you can reduce that pressure,” he says. “We’ve also adjusted our spray programme. The frequency of applying sulphur used to be every two weeks, but we’re now aiming for every seven to 10 days to stay on top of disease.” Bevan says that while organics is still quite a small part of the rural sector in New Zealand, there is a strong organic winegrowing presence in Central Otago. “We’re unique down here because we’ve got a really good environment here for organic growing. Probably the majority of Farmlands’ winegrower clients would be organic in Central Otago, whereas it would be the opposite for vineyards elsewhere in the country.” Steven says having the support of other local organic winegrowers has been invaluable, as Domain Road embarks on its own organic journey. “I’m definitely very lucky to

“The main thing we focus on throughout the growing season is trying to keep the canopy open. Sunlight and airflow are your biggest friends really.”

be surrounded by organic vineyards in Bannockburn. We all talk to each other about what works and what doesn’t work. In Central Otago we’re a very close-knit community, so I definitely look up to other organic growers in the area who’ve been doing it for 20-plus years.” Domain Road has chosen to get certified through BioGro, which is owned by organic farming and growing industry group the Soil & Health Association of New Zealand. Steven says a lot of other organic growers in the area also use BioGro. “The main thing I have to prove is what inputs I put in, and that they are themselves certified by BioGro. There’s also a yearly audit process with BioGro, and you have to keep a record of the soil nutrition.” Going organic could bring new sales opportunities, especially overseas. Steven estimates Domain Road’s sales split is about 60 percent export and 40 percent domestic, with a large proportion of local sales coming through their cellar door. “The main markets we are focused on are Australia, UK and a little bit in Japan. Although they may be niche, there are restaurants and liquor stores that specialise in organic wine, so becoming organic can open up new markets for us.” Cromwell-based Domaine Thomson Wines, which was certified organic back in 2017, has seen strong domestic sales growth in recent years. “When Covid hit we just finished building a cellar door on the vineyard, which has really transformed the business,” says Domaine Thomson Viticulturalist, Simon Gourley. “It really helped the direct-to-consumer sales, building relationships and repeat customers. It’s good to have that facility on-site to showcase what we’re doing here as well.” | Farmlander | 71

Left: Steven Crosbie of Domain Road Vineyard (left) talks wine with Farmlands Technical Advisor Bevan Meiklejohn.

In terms of exports, Simon says Domaine Thomson has had considerable success in markets like Hong Kong and Singapore. “Australia is not huge for us; we’re focused more on Asia and the European market. Our owners [husband and wife team David and PM Hall-Jones] were living in Hong Kong until recently, so it’s easier to service that market, easier to travel and make contacts there.” Simon joined Domaine Thomson in 2018, shortly after it went organic. He had previously worked at other wineries in Central Otago, and says his interest in horticulture was sparked as a child when visiting his grandparents’ berry farm. “From when I was young, I was very interested in science and farming. Viticulture is a good combination of the two; I can incorporate some chemistry and biology, but also go outside and not get stuck in the office. You get to see some results and you’re growing things.” One of the main issues of growing using organic methods is weed control and the competition between the weeds and the vines, especially with the “pretty bony soils” of Central Otago, Simon says. “They don’t have a lot of resources for the vines to draw on, especially water, so trying to eliminate that competition between the vine and the weed is hard work in the organic sector. We rely heavily on the irrigation, but you’re also irrigating the weeds.” He says they do a lot of mechanical weed control with tractor-mounted gear, although this doesn’t get everything. “This morning we spent the first couple of hours out working on large lucernes that the machine doesn’t rip out, they’ve got those woody taproots.” Nutrients are also a conundrum for organic growers, forcing them to think outside the square. “We don’t have the luxury of buying super-phosphate and all those nice things that are quite cheap for how much nitrogen or calcium you are getting, so it’s all about sourcing our inputs.” Simon says Domaine Thomson does a

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lot of composting, including waste from harvest, prunings, chipped-up old willows and cow manure. “We’ve got a few cows on the sides of the hills, and in the past we’ve even brought in bulk cow manure to get a large volume of compost because it doesn’t go very far.” One of the biggest issues for organic growers is the price gap between organic certified and non-organic inputs. Bevan hopes this will close as more growers go organic, potentially lowering prices on supermarket shelves for organic produce. “There are a lot of our suppliers that are in that space, and if they don’t have an organic offering we’re talking to them about it. One of our suppliers has just decided to drop their conventional and bring in organic-only for some of their products, because it’s one-size-fits-all and can be used by anyone.” Bevan also doesn’t think the current cost-of-living crisis is likely to have a big impact on demand for organic wine. “I think people in the market to buy a premium bottle of wine, they’re the people who can afford it.” Long-term, he says demand for organics will continue to grow as awareness of sustainability increases. “The younger generation are really aware of looking after the environment, so we're finding ways to be kinder with our inputs.”

A LIGHTWEIGHT GUMBOOT WHEN YOU NEED COMFORT AND STABILITY QUATRO LIGHT - Second leg band for trimming to calf height - Handcrafted using natural rubber - Ankle-locking design - Quick drying and antibacterial internal leg lining - Mud releasing outsole - Heel and arch support from Politech® midsole plus air pockets for ultimate comfort Find yours in-store and online at Farmlands

10,000 VISITS TO KIWI FARMS with more to come Farmers across the country are set to take part in Open Farms, New Zealand’s national open farm day.


pen Farms 2024 returns on Sunday 10 March 2024, and the call has gone out for new farmers to sign up to host an open day. Now in its fourth year, the project – which aims to reconnect urban Kiwis with the people and places that grow their food - has helped around 10,000 visitors to experience 100+ open farm events. “Good things happen when urban people get back out on-farm” says Open Farms founder Daniel Eb. “Across 100 open days, we’ve seen farmers and their teams feel a renewed sense of pride in what they do. We’ve seen direct-to-customer farm businesses build their customer base. For visitors, it’s a chance to really connect with the source of their food and get the real story on the issues they care about. For the one-

in-five who have never visited a farm before, it can be life-changing.” Once a farmer has agreed to host an event with Open Farms, they can set and track their visitor numbers and download a handbook covering activity ideas, checklists and more. Open Farms supports farmers to plan their day, manages all visitor marketing and registrations and provides a ‘box-of-kit’ for the day. “For those farmers who have hosted before and farm close to a major urban centre, we’re also providing an operations subsidy to help scale their event. This approach helped the project achieve a record visitor turnout in 2023” says Daniel. The full range of food and fibre farms are welcome to participate. Past Open Farms events have featured sheep and beef stations, permaculture

orchards, dairy farms, honey producers, native restoration projects, urban farms, thoroughbred breeders and more. “Every year, visitor demand far outstrips capacity. If an event runs within an hour of a major urban centre, it books out in days – sometimes hours” says Daniel. Across two post-event research projects in partnership with the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge, visitor feedback is clear - people feel more connected to farmers, view sustainability in farming more positively and better understand the complexities of farming after an open day. Open Farms is backed by three partners - Beef + Lamb New Zealand, the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge and the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures fund.

For more information, prospective farmer hosts and visitors can visit

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When former Toyota engineer Jana Hocken found herself living on a dairy farm in the Manawatu, she soon realised her manufacturing background could come in handy. Now she is on a mission to help other Kiwi farmers become more efficient using ‘lean’ systems. WORDS BY NIKO KLOETEN


airy farming was the last thing on Jana’s mind when she was enjoying the bright lights of Europe during her previous life as an engineer. Born in the Czech Republic, Jana’s family moved to Christchurch as refugees when she was two years old, then shifted to Australia when she was nine. A gifted student, she studied mechanical engineering at Monash University in Melbourne alongside her twin sister, who did the same degree. Jana started out working for Toyota in Melbourne as a quality engineer in weld and press, before she and her sister decided to move to Europe. While many expats end up in London, they had their sights set on Belgium. “It just so happened the European headquarters for Toyota were in Belgium, so I managed to get a job there,” she says.

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“My sister got a job with Procter and Gamble, who also had their European headquarters over there.” During her five years in Brussels, Jana not only became an expert in the car manufacturer’s famous ‘lean manufacturing’ principles, but she also met her husband Mat Hocken, a Kiwi from a dairy farming family who was working for a European Union policy consultancy. They eventually moved back to Sydney, where Mat worked for the Australian Federal Government in trade finance and Jana worked in management consulting, teaching lean principles to other companies. Jana says the decision to ditch their big-city corporate careers and move to the Hocken family dairy farm near Feilding was made during a holiday in the Amazon. “We were in these little canoe things for about 10

hours to reach a remote area and the rain was bucketing down on us. We spent a lot of time discussing whether we still wanted corporate careers. Mat was a bit tired of being in the corporate world and we thought, well, why don't we try the farm?” The self-professed “city girl” admits the new lifestyle was a massive adjustment for her, having got used to living in places like Sydney, Brussels and even Paris. “It was quite a difference, mainly because I was used to working around a really international crowd, so going to rural New Zealand was a bit of a shock in terms of the mindset. Having said that, being an engineer, I'm quite practical, and I do like nature and animals.” Mat also took some time to adjust to life on the farm, even though he had grown up there before going to


university and joining the corporate world. “I remember coming back and I was there with all the team, and they said, "Oh, just strip these cows and check if they've got mastitis." And I didn't actually know what stripping a cow was. I had built my career up to a certain point and now I was starting again, but I enjoyed the challenge.” As a newcomer to farming, Jana noticed several things that stood out to her as a bit odd. One of them was the long hours people were working, particularly during calving. “It was seven days a week, really long hours. And I thought, "This doesn't happen really in any other industry. Is it sustainable?” When I was on farm, I would see the same problems pop up over and over again.” Jana says she had two ‘aha moments’: one of them occurred when she was heavily pregnant with the first of their three children, driving around the farm late at night in the pouring rain trying to find calving pulleys for Mat to help a distressed cow. The second incident was on Valentine’s Day, sitting on a farm bike watching Mat try to improvise a fix for a broken trough, because he didn’t have the right tools with him. “There were things like this that would happen, and I just started thinking, "I really have a hunch that the stuff that I'm teaching companies all over the world actually might be relevant to farming”,” Jana says. “And so we started just applying some of the tools, and particularly some of the more strategic systems as well, like the communication tools; just getting processes on paper so that people understood what was expected.” Some of the changes they introduced on their farm might seem like no-brainers for those accustomed to the corporate world, such as having team meetings at the same time each week. “We introduced standard work weeks to improve efficiency, because what was happening was we'd have three people show up at the one place to try and do three different tasks, and it just would create duplication and inefficiencies and chaos,” Jana says. | Farmlander | 77

“It is based on looking at your business in the eyes of a customer, which farmers can find hard to do, and identifying what it is you’re doing that's actually adding value.” They also installed visual management boards in each of their dairy sheds, a tool Mat says has made it much easier for their staff to keep up with everything that’s happening onfarm. “We've got information on safety, on what's going on this week, the maintenance, schedule, the actions, the problems, the animal health, the milk production, the milk quality, all of this information. Whenever anybody goes into the team room has a cup of tea or has a sit down, that's all there.” Jana and Mat saw promising results from their new systems, and they were soon approached by their processor, Open Country Dairy, who knew about Jana’s experience with lean. “They said, "Hey, would you be able to develop some training for farmers?" And I thought, "Yeah, okay, why not?"

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So I did, and we piloted it with about 150 farmers, and actually there was a massive appetite for it. And it just kind of went from there,” she says. Using their 450ha Grassmere Dairy farm as both a laboratory for lean methods, and a classroom for demonstrating them, Jana quickly expanded the Lean Farm programme and even wrote a book, The Lean Dairy Farm, which she published in 2019. While she initially focused on dairy farming, she has worked with farmers and growers across the sector, including sheep and beef and horticulture. “Although they each have their own unique challenges, they are all facing several common issues,” she says. For those unfamiliar with lean, Jana says it is a holistic management

approach. “It is based on looking at your business in the eyes of a customer, which farmers can find hard to do, and identifying what it is you’re doing that's actually adding value. Anything that doesn't add value is considered waste, and the idea is that you aim to eliminate or reduce that waste as much as possible.” Jana says lean systems can help all producers, whether the product is cars, milk or blueberries. “The ultimate goal is that you're able to deliver your product in the most efficient, effective way at the lowest cost, with the highest quality, and the safest process, and you are able to tick the box in terms of the highest animal welfare process, the most sustainable and ethical, and environmentally friendly process.” She admits she encountered some initial scepticism from farmers convinced their way of doing things was the right way, but the overall reaction to her ideas has been positive. “A lot of farmers literally had ‘aha moments’ and said, “You are absolutely right”. I remember talking to this sheep farmer who was probably


in his early nineties, and he came up to me at the end of a speaking event I did, and he said, “You are so needed. I could tell you horror stories, this is so important in this industry”.” New Zealand farmers aren’t the only ones looking to Jana for help. She has advised rural businesses in several countries and has recently been asked to assist the European Union with its ‘Resilience For Dairy’ project. “They've identified that lean is a key strategic enabler to help dairy farmers across the 18 European countries become more resilient and sustainable,” she says. “It just shows that this is actually a proven methodology.” Despite the strong interest from local farmers exposed to her ideas, Jana says New Zealand and Australian farmers are about 10 years behind Europe and America in adopting lean methods. “Americans absolutely love lean, and so do many countries in Europe. And it's interesting because when you look at their farms, in Ireland and UK and the Netherlands, they have 150 cows maximum. They're tiny family businesses, and yet they see the value that this brings.” Interest in more efficient farming methods is likely to increase, as Kiwi

farmers and growers stare down a number of economic, regulatory and environmental challenges. Mat, who holds several industry roles such as Chairman of the Rural Innovation Lab and independent advisor to MPI’s Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures Fund, says a key aspect driving the need for efficiency is the shift away from relying on rising farm prices to fund expansion. “Dairy farming for a long period was driven by capital growth,” he says. “You could buy a farm, improve it, work hard, and with capital growth, you could be a successful farmer. You could buy another farm, buy another farm, and as long as you could pay your interest costs, farm values were rising. It's very much flipped around now; you need to be a profitable business. Your capital growth may or may not be there, but the banks and everyone wants to ensure that you are a cashflow-driven business.” Mat says staffing and people management is another common issue among farmers they work with. “There's a saying, “People join a company but leave because of their manager”. I think people work for farmers and they're good

people, but they come across as bad managers. I always say everybody's a bad manager unless you get some process, and if you've got a good process, you actually take a lot of the work off a manager.” Jana says farmers often ask about how to create a good culture, and the answer is in the processes and systems you have in place, rather than just the people. This was demonstrated when the senior management team of a large South Island farming business came to visit their farm. “We had one of our young guys who's 21, he ran our team meeting in front of them. They were blown away. This guy has had no farming background, but we put him into an environment that has the processes and systems where he's able to develop and thrive.” With economic conditions remaining tough for many farmers, Jana says cost reduction is a big focus for the sector, and a lean approach can help with this. “What lean focuses on is your internal locus of control, which means the things you can control in your business: what you can do, how you do things, why you do things, when you do things. There's no point complaining about interest rates or what milk prices are doing. You've got no control over that. You need to focus on the internal things that you've got control of.” Jana says a lot of the things she teaches are quite common in other sectors, but many Kiwi farmers have gone straight into farming, so they have never had experience in any other job or different business environment. “They might not be called lean, but it's quite common to have some safety processes around, and HR processes and all these kinds of things. Farmers may never have experienced that, so it's no fault of their own, they just aren't aware of some of the tools that exist.”

For more information about the Lean Farm project, visit | Farmlander | 79

Farmers get sophisticated on

NUTRITION Farmers are embracing science and moving away from cheaper feed options that don’t necessarily provide the best return on investment, according to Chris Stephens, Team Lead - Nutrition at Farmlands. WORDS BY NIKO KLOETEN


ne of the biggest trends in the nutrition space is the increasing complexity of what farmers are feeding their livestock, as they adopt a more scientific approach aimed at optimising nutrients and preventing deficiencies. “It's no longer what I would class as a basic blend anymore" says Chris, “the blends are getting more and more complex all the time. We're getting more additives added into it, because they can see the animal health benefits, whether that be a rumen modifier or a mycotoxin binder, it's just different. “You can even look at the simple things like magnesium and calcium, which a lot of farmers used to supplement through the water, but that can be quite expensive if their water system's not working well, or you have any other mitigationg factors. Whereas when it's in the feed, it's a guaranteed intake that day, and an accurate intake.”

Tailored solutions Despite difficult economic conditions and high input costs, farmers are starting to look beyond a simple cost per kilogram equation, Chris says. “Years ago, the average blend used to have

a diet calculator tool; it's not a case of sitting down and guesstimating. There are pasture samples, which we can use to work out an appropriate diet, because everything's got a spec.”

Milking for longer

maybe 40 percent palm kernel. Now, we're getting down to between 25-30 percent, and even as low as 20 percent.” As for what else is being used in the blends, he says a lot depends on the farm, and that's where the solution gets tailored with Farmlands’ team of nutrition specialists. “It might be starches in springtime if they don't have hay silage, or it might be soya hulls if they don't have a fibre source like silage available. “There's all sorts of different avenues and discussions had around nutrition. The nutrition specialists have

Chris says the big trend in the nutrition space over the next few months is likely to be dairy farmers extending their milking season, if drought conditions continue. “If it dries out, there may be shareholders who will milk the cows longer into May and June if they've got the feed available. Quite often when you have a drought, you can have really good feed autumns, so it's a good opportunity for them to milk animals through into June, to try and just maximise days in milk, but that will be regionally-dependent on how nasty the drought gets. “It's easier to put condition on a milking cow than it is a dry cow; they're just more efficient at converting that feed. Sometimes it’s better to keep the animal in milk instead of drying them off and getting no income and still having to feed them. At least by milking, you're still bringing in a form of income with the milk production.”

Call your Farmlands TFO or Nutrition Specialist today to arrange a visit and get set for autumn.

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LAY OF THE LAND | Digital Farmer

– our future service model Purchasing farm supplies from your paddock or shed should be as easy as ordering a pizza, and soon will be thanks to a new Farmlands app designed to simplify on-farm management.


armlands’ digital transformation is aimed at meeting the needs of increasingly technology focused and data driven farmers and growers, who are demanding fast and efficient ways to do business with their suppliers. Face-to-face time with technical and sales experts will always remain at the core of Farmlands. The new Digital Farmer tool aims to supplement these important interactions by making it easy for customers to order products, check order status and look up past purchases, without having to make any phone calls or leave their property. Craig McLintock, who’s led the creation of Digital Farmer, says Farmlands has used extensive surveying of customers to create its pilot app. “We asked simple questions like; what does it mean to operate a rural business and what more could we do to help make it easier?” “One of the key themes from our farmers and growers is most of them were spending at least a day a week away from farming; inside doing admin. It’s not where they want to be, it’s costly to be off-farm, and we could do something to help.” Much of this admin time is spent placing, managing and tracking repeated supply orders based on cyclical or seasonal activity. Digital Farmer allows customers to check previous order volumes, make decisions about what’s needed and place a new order all from a mobile device in a field. It makes it all so much simpler. The pilot version of Digital Farmer is only just the beginning and it’s already helping more than 100 farmers

with real-time information on their product orders at their fingertips, including how much was purchased and at what price, the timing of the deliveries and how much of the order has yet to be delivered. Craig says the app has also been designed to work offline, with information stored for when the device has access to a cell signal or Wi-Fi. “A third of our shareholders told us cell phone coverage everywhere on their farm is sweet as, a third of them have got coverage in certain places, and the other third had nothing anywhere, so we made sure

it works offline for certain functions, like checking previously purchased products and building up a list of products they need again.” Leading rural supplies co-operatives around the world are making it easier for farmers and growers to self-order and manage their rural supplies through digital tools. Farmlands plans to lead the New Zealand market in this space, starting with Digital Farmer. We will let you know once Digital Farmer is fully launched and ready to help make a difference to your business. Tanya, Farmlands CEO | Farmlander | 81

BETTER PRICES, INCREASED AVAILABILITY FROM SUPPLY CHAIN OVERHAUL We will look back on 2023 as a time of transformational change for Farmlands. The co-operative completed the largest managed reset of its product offering in its 60 year history – all aimed at delivering better value to customers. WORDS BY ALICE SCOTT

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Lower prices, more sales Steve Thompson, who sources Farmlands retail and infrastructure products, uses Nexus Culverts as an example – which are New Zealand’s number-one selling culvert. “Through Farmlands’ core range programme, prices for this pipe have been cut by 10-40 percent depending on the specific model, and sales have increased by nearly 30 percent – all in a difficult market. This benefits customers, Farmlands, and the supplier.” Joshua Edeson, who is in Steve’s team and looks after dog and cat food and household supplies says, “Previously we were selling Black Hawk working dog food at around $220 for a 20kg bag, and sometimes we could offer it on sale at $200. Now, it is stocked at our everyday value price of $186.89.” These are just a couple of examples - and there are many more - as a result of being able to work with suppliers at scale, or by working with supply partners in a different way.

Steve Thompson, Farmlands Head of Merchandise for Retail and Infrastructure.



he purpose of the co-operative is to be the number-one buying group for New Zealand farmers and growers. This can only be achieved by fully leveraging the collective buying power of the co-operative’s customers, including shareholders and casual customers. Chief Merchandising Officer Chris Fisher says “Over time we had developed an unsustainably large, stocked product range in a desire to meet the needs of individual customers. A buying group does the opposite of this and brings together the collective need of its customers to define the right products and source them in bulk at the best price - then passes better pricing on to customers.” Farmlands is now beginning to maximise the investment made into the back-end operating platform, under the Braveheart project. It’s created a nationally-centralised ordering system where data-based demand planning can be used to buy the right product in bulk and distribute it at the right time to customers. Farmlands has rolled out a new core range of products across its entire retail network in less than a year. A massive accomplishment. This work has already resulted in 80% of store revenue being generated from this range, the availability of products in-store shifting dramatically to over 90% and the average number of stores stocking a product growing from 7 to 43. Customers know that the products promoted in stores are highly likely to be available when they need them, and are being offered at the most competitive prices nationwide. Chris adds, “We are definitely learning as we implement this new way of working. Mistakes will be made along the way, but these will decrease as our data and processes improve and our people become more used to operating this way.” Farmlands’ category team have been working hard to bring the benefits of this product and supply chain programme to life for customers and are keen to share some of the tangible ways that it’s supporting the cooperative and its customers.

LAY OF THE LAND | Core Range

“The work we have done in 2023 sets the foundations for getting back to our DNA as a buying group. I am regularly reminded by some of our longstanding and most knowledgeable shareholders that this is what we were formed to do.” TANYA HOUGHTON Another benefit of our centralised buying model is that store teams can focus more on serving customers and less on managing stock procurement. “Our ordering system is becoming more automated; when a product is sold in a store, that information feeds back to central management and new stock can be dispatched quickly,” says Steve. “Our team can spend less time in the back room, and more time looking after customers or upskilling on our products to better meet the needs of customers.” Joshua Edeson, Category Manager for Cat & Dog Food and Household Supplies at Farmlands, pictured in the Farmlands Rangiora store.

Better products, better service in-store Farmlands embracing an improved product and supply chain model is also making it a more attractive retail partner to brands it has not previously worked with – and this is an exciting change for customers. Premium US tool-brand, Milwaukee is a very good example of this. Milwaukee prides itself on disrupting through innovation and has a range of products that are specifically suited to the New Zealand agricultural sector. “Changing our buying model has allowed us to partner with industry leaders like Milwaukee. They can pick and choose who they supply to, depending on how well their product is looked after on the shelf. Merchandising, marketing and volumes are very important, and we are now in a position to offer the level of support that attracts brands like this,” says Steve. “Through this partnership we are selling specific Milwaukee products that can make a significant difference to on-farm productivity - such as their cordless grease gun and trough pump. Our national retail reach also means customers in small regions can now access Milwaukee products at the same price as they are available in large towns. In the past customers would have had to drive to a larger town or city to get a tool that they needed, incurring cost and time.”

Protecting supply continuity Covid disruptions, worldwide conflicts, and New Zealand’s geographical isolation, have made it increasingly challenging to ensure a continuity of product supply in a range of sectors. Farmlands is now able to work with international suppliers at higher product order volumes and with longer order lead times, to protect its supply chain. “For example, Heiniger shearing gear is an important supplier and continuity of supply has been very challenging. We are now forecasting our stocks two years in advance and can ensure those products are delivered to the exact stores where they are needed,” says Steve. Rubber and cotton being affected by international trade wars has also led to volatility for products made with these materials. “We have been able to partner with key suppliers to reduce our risk of exposure to volatility in rubber and cotton supply, by committing to in-store shelf space and through order scale.” There is plenty more work to do to get Farmlands’ endto-end product and supply chain programme completed, but a huge amount was achieved in 2023 and the benefits are increasingly being realised. 2024 is set to be an even bigger year where more benefits are delivered, as we further embed our core range, improve how we distribute products and introduce new suppliers and direct sourced products in our range.

Customers who have not checked Farmlands product range or prices for a while, should visit their local store or contact their Technical Field Officer to learn more about what’s changed. | Farmlander | 83


In association with Noel Leeming

Nurturing future-ready minds:

THE BENEFITS OF DIGITAL LITERACY Digital literacy is about having the skills and knowledge to navigate digital technologies with ease and confidence. When it comes to education, it is a game-changer for rural communities. Digital literacy opens up opportunities for students to thrive in their learning and connection with others, while getting the support they need when living at a distance. Here are four reasons why digital literacy is significant in preparing young minds for the future and setting students up for success.

educational interests. Through online platforms, young people can maintain friendships, collaborate on projects, and share experiences while gaining important communication skills.

Closing the educational gap Regardless of geographical location, every student deserves equitable opportunities. Digital literacy levels the playing field and ensures young people have equal access to information. It also enables students to learn in a way that suits them best. Adaptive learning platforms and interactive resources allow students to progress at their own pace, ensuring a deep understanding of concepts. This not only helps them to do well but also helps them feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for their own learning journey.

Virtual support

Empowering learning journeys Digital literacy is the key that unlocks a world of learning opportunities for students. With learning being able to extend beyond the classroom, students can explore more advanced subjects and participate in virtual workshops, without having to leave home. Digital literacy is not only empowering young people with access to a broad range of educational pathways but also fostering a love of learning at the same time.

Having teacher support is important for a student to feel a sense of success. Digital literacy takes this support to a new level, facilitating real-time discussions that allow students to seek guidance, clarify doubts, and receive support virtually. With digital platforms opening up options for recorded sessions and video learning to take place, students can also catch up on missed learning or jump ahead to get prepared. In essence, digital literacy is empowering young people with the tools they need to learn and connect in a rural setting. These tools are extending beyond the conventional realms of education and equipping students to thrive in a fast-paced world, while also shaping their minds to be ready for the future. Noel Leeming is committed to providing technology that transforms educational experiences and supports future-proof learning. With a huge range of devices and great prices when you shop with your Farmlands Card, you can get your students set up for successful digital learning, fast.

Fostering connections When you’re living at a distance, it can be hard to stay connected. Digital literacy serves as a bridge to help maintain relationships, while also connecting students in their

Find your school at to check your BYOD requirements, or you can explore the full range of devices online or instore. | Farmlander | 85



Get a 5% discount on selected products exclusively in-store at Spark, by using your Farmlands Card for payment.

VISIT YOUR LOCAL SPARK STORE TODAY Discount is applicable to general merchandise and accessories, excluding Apple and Xbox products. For clarity, devices and modems are also excluded. Discount is only available on in-store purchases when using your Farmlands Card to pay for your purchase. Discount cannot be combined with any other discounts or promotions. Discount period is 1 March 2024 until 30 June 2024.

In association with Triton Hearing

Farmlands supports New Zealand’s

“GREAT BIG HEARING CHECK” THIS MARCH Raising awareness about the impacts of noise-induced hearing loss.

The Great Big Hearing Check - New Zealand’s only national hearing awareness initiative - is urging Kiwis to prioritise their hearing health with annual hearing checks, particularly for those working in noisy environments. The Great Big Hearing Check aims to raise awareness about hearing protection and hearing loss to safeguard against potential hearing impacts. Hearing loss is common, in fact more than 800,000 people in New

Zealand currently experience hearing loss and the onset can be gradual or unexpected. While the most common form of hearing loss is age-related, it can also occur as a result of injury, infection or overexposure to excessive noise. The good news is that proactive intervention can help. Spearheaded by Triton Hearing in collaboration with partners National Foundation for Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Farmlands, Green Cross

Health (Unichem & Life Pharmacies), MTA (Motor Trade Association) and Iwi partners, this campaign emphasises the importance of regular hearing checks, and hearing protection especially for those exposed to occupational noise. Triton Hearing Head of Audiology, Lesleigh Smith, expressed her support stating, “The Great Big Hearing Check is an important public health initiative to promote awareness of hearing health. By encouraging annual assessments and highlighting the availability of fully-funded hearing aid options through ACC, we aim to empower New Zealanders to take proactive measures to protect their auditory wellbeing.” If your hearing loss is the result of a work-related injury, or overexposure to excessive noise, you may be eligible for hearing aids through ACC. As an approved hearing healthcare provider, Triton Hearing can offer fully-funded hearing aids, care and support with all levels of ACC funding. The Great Big Hearing Check will run during New Zealand Hearing Awareness Month in March, offering free online and in-clinic hearing assessments at Triton Hearing Clinics nationwide, and at self-screening kiosks at selected Farmlands stores and Unichem and Life Pharmacies.

Visit or call 0800 45 45 49 to give it a go! | Farmlander | 87










0800 472 787

In association with Finance Now

In recent months, farmers and growers have experienced a number of challenges including extreme weather patterns and a downturn in economic conditions. Managing a seasonal balance sheet is challenging enough without these unexpected pressures. But Rob and Susan from Southland did exactly that. With over 10 years' experience they are seasoned farmers, so when they made the decision to change from sheep to dairy farming, they knew there would be challenges ahead. “As it was our first season dairy farming, it was a tough year”, however Rob and Susan have been using Farm Flexi finance for several years now and understood the flexibility and opportunities it presented. “Farm Flexi enabled us to keep cashflow going to keep progressing through the season. Farm Flexi has taken the stress off our overdraft and is easy to manage and pay back so we are able to run the farm efficiently when income is low.” With Farm Flexi you have the option to pay your Farmlands account in full or up to the Farm Flexi credit

limit. You’ll receive an email asking if you would like to use the Farm Flexi account to pay your monthly Farmlands account. “It’s a very easy and stress-free product to use and it’s an easier alternative compared to dealing with the bank” says Susan. Rob and Susan only use Farm Flexi when they need to, which is around 3 months of the year, and it has saved them valuable time contacting their bank and scheduling meetings. Farm Flexi can be used to repay any purchases made using your Farmlands Card and fees only apply when funds are drawn down - you only pay for what you use. There are no establishment and early repayment fees, offering you a competitive flexible finance option. Farm Flexi is available to fund any purchase made using your Farmlands Card, whether this is from a Farmlands store or from any of the 7,000+ Card Partner locations.

• Fee structure of $19.95 per six months. Fees only apply when funds are drawn down, so you only pay for what you use. • Minimum monthly payments of just 5% • Very competitive interest rates of just 11.2% p.a. – subject to change. • Farm Flexi is a revolving product provided by Finance Now Limited.

To find out more about Farm Flexi, call us on 0800 200 600 or complete our no obligation enquiry form using the QR code, and a member of our team will be in touch shortly.

Things you should know: • The minimum facility for Farm Flexi is $2,000, up to a maximum of $500,000, subject to normal credit criteria and lending terms and conditions. | Farmlander | 89

Alfred James Sutton, an engineer at the Permanent Defence Force, purchased this farm of 117 acres in Ararimu, near Auckland’s Hunua Ranges, in 1912.


ater two of his boys, Warren and Gordon, ran Rimu Valley farm. They started off milking about 50 cows by hand, supplying cream (graded at the Manurewa factory as super grade, first grade or second grade) and the skim milk was used to rear pigs. Eventually whole milk was supplied and sent in 12-gallon cans. Warren married Catherine Elizabeth Sinclair (Betty) in 1946 and had three children – Valerie, Howard and Gordon. They established a pedigree Jersey herd and were members of the NZ Jersey Cattle Breeders Association. There were around 80 cows, so a lot of names were needed rather than numbers like today. Having a keen interest in stock, Warren was a calf club judge for the Ararimu School. He was also registered as a beekeeper. Horses were used for all farm work until tractors came in the late 1940s. Warren purchased a hay baler in the 1950s to make his own hay, which expanded into a contracting business for local farmers which his grandchildren still run today. Warren’s son, Howard, purchased the farm in 1973 after completing a building apprenticeship and serving his time building for six years. Howard

Howard Sutton and his mother, Betty.

converted the cowshed in 1975 to a 12-a-side herringbone using these skills. Howard married Lyndsay Hilda Bremner in 1977 and they raised six children - Lance, Steven, James, Rowann, Andrew and Richard. Howard and Lyndsay changed over from the pedigree Jersey herd to a pedigree Friesian herd stud (90 cows) not long after purchasing the farm. They went on to purchase


The last farm in the valley





neighbouring properties over the years, growing the farm size to nearly 500 acres, increasing the herd size to 220 and also running sheep and beef. In 1987 they planted a nashi pear and apple orchard supplying Turners & Growers. Howard (at 72 years old) and Lyndsay are still milking cows and like so many New Zealand farmers, there isn’t a single day in the year they don’t work. They support their neighbours too, often shearing their (lifestyle block) sheep and helping them out of a ‘pickle’, or when they need advice. Howard has served on many community committees and is honoured to be a ‘Justice of Peace’. Any one of their six children are capable of running the farm. The 11 grandchildren enjoy the farm life and are the fifth generation on the farm and the sixth generation in the valley on Howard’s mother’s side. Rimu Valley is the last remaining dairy farm in Ararimu, as most of the valley’s land has turned into lifestyle blocks. The family believe hard work never hurt anyone - but you do need to enjoy it!

Alfred Sutton.

The New Zealand Century Farm and Station Awards aim to capture and preserve the history of our country’s farming families. We share stories from Farmlands shareholders who have worked their land for 100 years or more.

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In association with Bene Footwear

Footwear designed for the New Zealand farming industry Bene Footwear is a kiwi-owned business that supplies footwear and accessories to the farming market. One of those footwear brands is Andrew footwear. This handmade Italian brand offers several styles specifically designed for the farming industry.

What makes Andrew so special? Andrew manufactures footwear according to the traditional artisan way of master shoemakers with the philosophy of strength and durability. The crafting of each boot takes 1,000 steps, from beginning to the finished product. From concept and the first prototype, to the cutting, marking and sewing, everything is done by hand, resulting in a top-quality footwear product that will give you comfort, support, durability and confidence in performance. We all know that boots with the shock absorbing PU midsoles are great, but they do not last in the farming environment with all the chemicals that are around. The PU midsole reacts with the chemicals, becomes hard and breaks down.

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That is why Bene Footwear together with Andrew footwear in Italy, have designed three styles to combat the degradation of the boot through challenging farming conditions. These styles are Dunstan, Zebru and Mackenzie. They all feature a rubber midsole - resilient to the corrosive impact of farm chemicals; combined with an all-rubber outsole and in some

styles, a full rubber rand, delivering footwear that stands up to the rigors of farm life, providing the wearer with excellent performance.

Explore Andrew footwear at Farmlands stores nationwide.

LAY OF THE LAND | Fern Energy

Fern Energy PICKS UP OFI

Fern Energy has achieved a big win, with international food business Olam Food Ingredients (OFI) switching over to Fern for on-farm fuel supplies for its dairy farms in New Zealand. WORDS BY NIKO KLOETEN


FI is a global food producer with a growing presence in New Zealand. They are one of the world’s top suppliers of dairy ingredients, used for products like desserts, bakery items and confectionery. In 2023 they opened a new state-of-the-art dairy processing facility in Tokoroa. OFI have enjoyed a long and successful history in New Zealand, through their previous investment in Open Country Dairy, and they have an increasing number of dairy farms supplying milk for the new factory. Farmlands has been working closely with OFI for some time to support its dairy farmers with better pricing, and greater value and service for their essential rural supplies. A logical progression in the relationship between Farmlands and OFI was to introduce a compelling bulk fuel solution through Fern – which is 50% owned by Farmlands as part of a joint-venture with Southfuels. OFI’s dairy farmers are shareholders in Farmlands – so a decision to work with Fern strengthens their cooperative as Fern profits flow back into Farmlands. Someone who’s picked up the benefits of working with both Farmlands and Fern quickly is Thomas Scheres – an OFI dairy farmer, Farmlands shareholder and Fern customer. “We have been extremely happy with the partnership between Farmlands and Fern for our fuel delivery. The team

Thomas Scheres.

really understand our requirements and bought together simple fuel solutions for our farms,” he says. Samantha Nunn, Lower North Island Regional Sales Manager for Fern, says the partnership with OFI is the culmination of a lot of hard work behind the scenes. “Here at Fern, we pride ourselves on understanding our rural customers’ needs, building partnerships with them and providing market-leading fuel solutions. OFI has been a great example of this.” Gavin Foulsham, who leads the Farmlands Card business and works closely with Fern as a key partner, says the Farmlands team has also

been working closely with OFI to meet their on-farm needs. “Modern farming is increasingly complex, but what farmers want from their rural suppliers hasn’t changed much. They’re looking for quality products at an affordable price, with reliable service and support from knowledgeable people. “Fuel is a significant expense for many in the rural sector, so it is handy to be able to work with the team at Fern, who understand the needs of the farmers and growers we work with. And if you’re a Farmlands shareholder, with an on-site fuel requirement for your farm or orchard, using Fern is a no-brainer.”

To start using Fern for your on-farm fuel needs, call 0800 99 99 89. Plus, paying for bulk fuel is easy through your Farmlands Account. | Farmlander | 93










For the extremes

GRS Certified

No more domes

FitGo tech + added zip





Do you know the feeling of looking out the window with dread as the rain pours down but you can’t put off shifting that mob until the weather clears? The ISO940 collection has been developed over several decades of making workwear for New Zealand farmers and growers. The ISO940 parka and overtrouser are windproof and waterproof, utilizing 4-layer Tetratec fabric technology to help regulate body temperature.

Thoughtful construction provides freedom of movement. Rigorous testing and design revisions mean this collection has a range of considered features. The FitGo hood offers cover and reliable protection from rain, even in high winds. The two-way zip allows the wearer to sit, kneel or climb. Multiple waterproof pockets are ideal for cellphones and tools.

I’m really glad we found Betacraft

The IS0940 collection features parkas, overtrousers, and bib overtrousers tailored for both men and women.



decent workwear and usually the money is just wasted - these seem to be easily the best so far. GRAEME PARKER | @THEHOOFGP, UK

Magnetic closures on both the parka and overtrousers are easier to operate in cold temperatures and still function when covered with mud.

Visit us online at or check out our range in-store at a Farmlands near you.

In association with AB Equipment

You’ve been buying Gulf Oil in Farmlands for over 12 years now, with statistics showing 1 in 4 tractors globally use Gulf Oil. An impressive statistic in any market, and something we at AB Equipment are very proud of, as we’re the exclusive distributor of Gulf Oil in New Zealand. Established in Christchurch, AB Equipment has provided equipment to the agricultural market since 1878. We also provide equipment solutions in materials handling, construction and forestry, as well as finance with Spiers Finance, and we use Gulf Oil throughout our workshop network to provide the best protection for machines and warranty. We have worked hard to secure ongoing lubricant supply for Farmlands shareholders too. When there was significant disruption in the global oil market, Farmlands in partnership with AB Equipment worked to ensure continuity of lubricant supply specific to agriculture. Gulf Oil International specifically focused production to ensure key lines were available for farming.

Gulf Oil continues to provide shareholders with monthly specials and promotions in-store and online at For more about the Gulf story in New Zealand visit

From Doosan to Develon AB Equipment represents 39 brands in equipment and consumables. One of the largest brands being Doosan. Much like Gulf went through some changes recently, this market leading brand recently changed and developed into Develon. Develon marks a significant shift in the landscape of machinery for New Zealand. AB Equipment is the primary distributor for Develon products and their new mini excavator range further amplifies the company's commitment to versatile and efficient solutions. These compact yet powerful machines boast advanced features such as improved fuel efficiency, state-of-the-art hydraulic systems, and user-friendly controls. The partnership between Develon and AB Equipment signifies not just a

change in name but also continued excellence and advancement. AB Equipment has supported New Zealand farming for close to 150 years. They’re the market leader in equipment and material handling sales and service, with 300 mobile technicians across New Zealand, available 24/7 on your farm. Farmlands shareholders can also use Farmlands Card at all AB Equipment sites, for parts, service and equipment.

Visit to see the entire range of parts, services and distributed brands. | Farmlander | 95


Thinking beyond survival mode Rural banking expert Aidan Gent looks at what farmers and growers can do to get through challenging economic conditions and set themselves up for future success. WORDS BY AIDAN GENT


imes are tough for many in the rural sector. Rising input costs, volatile returns and higher interest rates are squeezing margins, while regulatory changes and recent extreme weather events have only added to the stress levels. It’s hard to blame farmers and growers for being focused on survival. From a business perspective, the most important thing at the moment is balancing near and long-term outlooks. This means avoiding kneejerk decisions based solely on what's happening right in front of you today, thinking also about what's likely to happen in coming years. The food and fibre sector is not without its challenges, and our forefathers have equally had their share of difficult years. But what makes our farmers great is the ability to innovate and be resilient through cycles, ultimately turning challenge into opportunity. Regardless of the economic conditions, New Zealand still turns water, soil and sunlight into food and fibre in fewer steps than most other parts of the world, and we should be proud of what we do. Now's a perfect time to make sure we have the mindset and the ability to think through the cycle and focus on what makes businesses successful. Understand what drives your cashflow, and what activities or management decisions may help you mitigate, or adapt to, the impacts of environmental and economic fluctuations.

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Aidan Gent.

By and large, farmers tend to have pretty good equity levels; it's the cashflow part that catches them out. Those businesses with slightly more diversified income streams and ways of operating tend to be more resilient. For instance, if you're in sheep and beef, what mix of cattle types and strategies around what you're finishing can you employ, to diversify that revenue stream and make sure your cashflow doesn't get exposed to shocks? Could you use some of your land for growing alternate crops,

or lease parts out for solar panels or some unproductive land for forestry? What investments would set your business up for future success? Interest rates are another factor to consider. The market is pricing in future cuts to the OCR, so longer-term fixed rates are currently cheaper than floating rates. How do you balance that with the right strategy for your business, and how much more of an interest rate shock could you withstand? Remember: your role isn’t to beat the market, but instead take volatility out of your cashflow. No two farms are the same. You've got to look within your own business and work out what the ideal template would look like for how you could be farming, and then break down a plan around how you get there. It doesn't mean you get there tomorrow, or even in five years, but have that plan around where you are taking your business. Working with trusted advisors and professionals is critical here. As bankers, we are here to support food and fibre businesses through cycles. It’s crucial that farmers can respond to the challenges of today, but also to set themselves up for the opportunities of tomorrow.

Aidan Gent is General Manager – Rural at ASB, in addition to being a Ruawai dairy farmer and Farmlands shareholder. If you would like to talk to your local ASB Rural team about how they can support your business, search ASB Rural Banking or call 0800 787 252.




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