Page 1

Milk payout dip no dampener. PAGE 5

BETTER DAYS ON THE WAY Westland turnaround PAGE 3


OCTOBER 16, 2018 ISSUE 410 //

CAST YOUR VOTES We profile the five candidates for the Fonterra director election. PAGES 9-13









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NEWS  // 3

Westland cruising to a better year PETER BURKE

THE BAD years are over for Westland Awards boost careers. PG.14

Office on wheels. PG.22-23

Towing and spreading fert. PG.34

NEWS������������������������������������������������������3-16 OPINION�����������������������������������������������17-19 AGRIBUSINESS����������������������������� 20-21 MANAGEMENT�������������������������������22-24 ANIMAL HEALTH�������������������������� 25-26 HAY & SILAGE����������������������������������27-31 MACHINERY &   PRODUCTS�������������������������������������� 32-34

Milk Products. That’s the promise from chief executive Toni Brendish who told Dairy News the West Coast cooperative has fixed most of the problems that caused its two bad years. And some other problems that were out of WMP’s hands will hopefully not recur this season, she said, referring to the impact of Cyclone Fehi and labourrelations problems at the Port of Lyttleton. “During Cyclone Fehi we lost power for four days and there were costs to that. Unfortunately it also impacted our ability to produce infant formula in the sequence we wanted and the quantity we needed, and the pricing did not hold up as long as we’d hoped and this also affected us,” she says. Brendish says she takes responsibility for some other things that needed to be fixed and took longer than anticipated, such as getting quality and ‘right first time’ to the required level. Some issues that haven’t been addressed for many years take the organisation a bit longer to change, she says. “It’s like being on your tractor on the farm and trying to fix it at the same time as you are running it. We have had to keep running, take the milk and fix things at the same time and I definitely underestimated the depth of some of those issues.” Brendish says WMP had been getting ‘right first time’ with its commod-

ity products but not its infant formula and although the technology had been bought for this operation, the processes and systems had not caught up. But ‘right first time’ is now tracking well. A tactic Brendish hopes will benefit the co-op is segregating value-add products from commodities. To this end it now focuses on A2 milk and a scheme called Ten Star Premium Standard (10SPS) which incentivises farmers to produce higher quality milk, taking into account animal welfare, environment, careful use of antibiotics, no PKE and, of course, grass-fed cows. “I have just been to the US to meet a number of customers and we see in North America a demand for really high quality -- what I would call a very clean product which suits Westland. North America is looking for a product that is truly grass-fed – not products from around the world where a cow might walk past some grass but not eat it. There is genuine interest in what we are doing and a willingness to pay a premium for quality products such as ours,” she says. WMP has just collected its first 10SPS milk and is using it to make high quality butter for Lewis Road Creamery. And it has won a contract to supply UHT cream to a company that supplies cruise liners. About 40% of the products made by the co-op can be classed as valueadd; the UHT plant is now running three shifts and that product is going to China and parts of South East Asia.

Westland Milk chief executive Toni Brendish.


4 //  NEWS

MILK-GUARD WATCHES OVER LOSSES THE DAYS of losing dairy products in processing

lines and waste streams may soon end. Lincoln Agritech Ltd says technology it has devised to detect processing losses in dairy plants can save the industry millions of dollars a year and help keep pollutants from waterways. Commercialised by CertusBio, Christchurch, the automated bio-sensor continuously monitors product lines. The device, Milk-Guard, uses a lactose-specific enzyme to measure the percentage of dairy products present in waste streams and processing lines, sending the data to a process control room for human monitoring and changes if necessary. CertusBio chief executive Matthew Jones said that due to the vast quantity of dairy products processed in New Zealand, large amounts of valuable products could be lost quickly. “Dairy plant operators will be able to improve the resource and energy efficiency of their plant processes by reducing losses of valuable dairy products,” Jones says.

Patient shareholders WESTLAND MILK

Products chief executive Toni Brendish admits the co-op has tested its shareholders’ patience and she can’t ask them to hold on any longer. The forecast payout for the 2018-19 season is in the range of $6.50 to $6.90/kgMS. She says forecasting a payout in a commodity market is very difficult especially with the market turbulence caused by US President Donald Trump and Britain’s plan to leave the EU. Brendish says when setting the forecast price they don’t only take into account the GDT price; that’s just one tool and others must be noted.

Toni Brendish

Some countries are getting higher prices by not selling through the GDT system, she says. Reflecting on the past season, Brendish says WMP has made mas-

sive improvements. When she joined the co-op two years ago she received extensive feedback about the state of WMP and the low payout. But this time she’s had no phone calls

or mail about the payout. She puts this down partly to the co-op’s efforts to improve communication with shareholders. “I am sure [the shareholders would tell you]

they are disappointed with the payout for last season, and they should be because we are at the low end of the range. But we know that even at $6.07 it is well above break-even. “That is still not enough, we don’t pretend it is enough and I am not naive to think people are happy because they are not.” But with the season off to a good start in milk flow, the correcting of mistakes, new personnel and strategy and determination to produce more value-add products, Brendish is confident the days of low payouts are over and the co-op is heading in the right direction.

Business as usual – co-op FERTILISER CO-OP Ravens-

down says it has good stocks of finished fertiliser products despite a massive fire at its Hornby site last week. Customers have resumed collecting fertiliser from the 14ha site; the fire affected the eastern end. Ravensdown chief executive Greg Campbell says product quality has not suffered, ‘although in the initial restart of service customers could expect some congestion on the site”. The fire appears to have started during maintenance work and spread along the roof line when a rubber conveyor belt ignited. “The rubber belt helped spread the fire through the roofs of the four store buildings and caused the black smoke seen across the city,”

The rubber conveyor belt was responsible for bulk of the smoke.

says Campbell. “The buildings affected were of new fibreglass construction and did not contain asbestos. The cladding responded as it should, allowing emergency services to put the fire out quickly and safely from outside the building.”

The fire only affected building materials and conveyor structures. Ravensdown does not store explosive materials in any of their manufacturing plants. The two small bangs heard were likely exploding gas bottles used during the maintenance work.

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NEWS  // 5

Milk payout dip no dampener DAIRY FARMERS generally are in good spirits despite Fonterra last week lowering its milk price forecast, says Feds dairy deputy chairman Wayne Langford. Fonterra lowered its 2018-19 milk price forecast range from $6.75/kgMS to $6.25 to $6.50/kgMS because of increased milk production locally and overseas. “I don’t think it will be unexpected,” Langford told Dairy News. “It highlights the great tool the Global Dairy Trade model gives us enabling farmers potentially to see it coming a bit. “The prices at the last couple of auctions haven’t been overly flash so it is not unexpected. “It is a long way to go; it’s just the start of the season. We would certainly be hoping the powder price might pick up a bit to achieve a

“I know how hard it is for farmers when the forecast farmgate milk price drops, but it’s important they have the most up-todate picture so they can make the best decisions for their farming busi-

still tracking ahead of last year. US milk production is up slightly and Argentina’s is up 6.8%. In New Zealand, the season has got off to a positive start, mainly thanks to good weather.

nesses. “We are still seeing strong production coming from Europe, US and Argentina. While the hot weather in Europe has slowed down the region’s production growth, it is





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decent payout. “If prices stay in the $6/kgMS [region] most farmers will be pretty happy.” Farmers will be prudent. “The old adage says you don’t spend your wool cheque until you have got it. It is the same with dairy farming. You have to do your budget conservatively and if you get a bit extra at the end you can use it then.” Farmers in general are now in good spirits, he believes. “It has been a pretty kind spring, as long as we get a bit of rain in the next week or so. “A lot of farmers have got the joy back in farming compared to the last couple of seasons, so that is all positive. “The lowering of the forecast is no reflection on Fonterra’s performance; it is simply a reflection of international milk prices.” Fonterra chief executive Miles Hurrell says global demand is simply not matching current increases in supply.




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6 //  NEWS

Rebuilding the Jersey herd “There is no one right answer and people will have their own personal breed preferences,” he says. But from an economic return perspective, the sums are stacking up well for Jersey and Jerseycross animals, Courtman says, for three reasons: 8% higher MS production/unit of feed, lower annual sustainable herd replacement rates, and the readjustment of milk-

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fat price far outweighing lower meat returns and the additional marginal per cow cost of running more cows. With other young farmers Zach and Laura Mounsey and Michael and Claire Newson, Courtman will be involved in launching Jersey Profit to connect with the wider farming public. Jersey Profit is expected to appeal to commercial farmers for

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NZ Animal Evaluation Ltd is an industry good, breed neutral body. Its role is to reflect the commercial realities covering milk, meat and per cow costs into a reliable BW. “Jersey bulls now dominate the top sire listings, and this will be further strengthened in February 2019 as the five-year rolling average picks up another season of higher milkfat returns.”




their focus on economic indices, milk and meat payment equity and relevant research and promotion. It has secured funding from pioneer Jersey farmers. He says the group needs to take the lead for the next 20 years “This will not mean all paddocks will be filled with Jersey cows. But a logical response is some significant rebuild of Jersey cow numbers and a browner tone to the large NZ crossbred segment of the cow population.” Courtman says milk returns make up 97% of gross income on a standard Jersey farm and 95% on a Holstein Friesian farm. There are breed differences in meat returns but they are relatively insignificant compared to milk returns. DairyNZ subsidiary,

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JAMES COURTMAN says his dairying career so far has taken him from one end of the spectrum to the other in dairy cow breeds. “I grew up with my parents’ Holstein Friesian herd and now farm a mostly Jersey herd at Te Kauwhata where I contract milk 640 cows and own an equity share in the business. “The combination of childhood, university, farming in three different countries, consumer preferences and profit convince me that the Jersey cow is best aligned for a more profitable and successful future for the NZ dairy industry.” He believes the Jersey breed is well aligned to target the


high end consumer due to its superior ability to produce grass fed milk in a free-range type environment under a low-cost production system. “The breed’s ability to adapt to OAD milking further emphasises this.” A key Jersey advantage is the breed’s known superior reproductive performance. “Even the most one-eyed Friesian breed enthusiast would acknowledge Jersey cows outperform in this,” says Courtman. “There appears to be a breed difference of about 4% with Jersey at 9-11% MT rates and HF cows at 13-16%; anyone doubting these numbers should talk with their local vets about

non pregnancy rates between breeds. The animal welfare and environmental benefits of lower MT rates are less land required to hold cows over or raise young stock on.” “Other key animal welfare issues that favour the Jersey breed and profit are less lameness due to black hooves which also leads to faster mobility to and from the cowshed and significantly less calving difficulty.” A combination of less lameness, less calving injury, less collapsed udders and the significant difference in pregnancy rates means the sustainable year-on-year replacement rate is 17% for Jerseys and 22% for Friesians.


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NEWS  // 7

Reports present more challenges PETER BURKE


in the spotlight last week with three heavyweight Government announcements. Reports on water quality, climate change and Mycoplasma bovis all appeared over just three days, prompting Federated Farmers vice president Andrew Hoggard to say these presented more challenges for farmers, prompting him to think about sitting back, going on the dole and saving the planet that way. He says it’s like trying to fix a plane while it’s flying; as well as meeting the new challenges in water quality and climate change things have to keep going on the farm. “We are expected to meet all the new regula-

tions and do all the other stuff on the farm such as ensuring that the effluent system is running properly,” he says. He says farmers are annoyed that while they come under pressure, district councils consistently get let off the hook for not meeting environmental standards, and he doesn’t see this changing.

The new regulations announced by Environment Minister David Parker and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor promise a “noticeable improvement” in water quality in five years. “Clean water is our birthright. Local rivers and lakes should be clean enough for our children

to swim in and put their head under water without getting crook,” says Parker. The Government has effectively scrapped the Land and Water Forum (LAWF) and replaced it with three advisory groups: a science and technical advisory group chaired by scientist Ken Taylor, a fresh water lead-

M.BOVIS RECOVERY PLANS LAST WEEK brought an aknowledgement by the Government that all was not right in MPI’s handling of the M.bovis crisis, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern admitting things could have been done better. She and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor unveiled new initiatives designed to make it easier for farmers to claim compensation and to give them more support. These include an online tool to calculate milk production losses, a simpler form to lodge a compen-

sation claim and the funding of a DairyNZ/Beef + LambNZ compensation assistance team to help farmers with their claims. Of NZ’s 24,000 farms, 74 have been infected with M.bovis and 36 destocked and cleared of the disease. Ardern says the new initiatives will help farmers and their families hit by the disease to move on and get back in business. Eradicating the disease is still a priority.

Andrew Hoggard

ers group headed by John Penno, and Kahui Wai Maori chaired by Kingi Smiler. The Government is also planning to have a new National Policy Statement on Freshwater Management completed by 2020 to provide clear

guidelines for regional and district council policies and rules on freshwater. DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says his organisation supports the Government initiative and says dairy farmers are already solving the issues,

for example by greater use of stand-off pads and planting of wetlands. But he also acknowledges the impact the dairy sector has had on the land and says it will take time to fix the historical issues. Predictably Greenpeace has called for a ban on new dairy farms and an immediate end to any further intensification of dairy farming. Meanwhile dairy farming made the headlines in a report by the Inter Governmental Report on Climate Change. The report noted that 43% of NZ’s greenhouse gas emissions were caused by methane – all livestock burping and 11% nitrous oxide -- and by cows urinating. The lead author of the report, Professor Bronwyn Hayward, Canterbury University, says NZ is going to have think hard to be competitive.


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Waugh’s message hasn’t changed SUDESH KISSUN

FONTERRA BOARD member Ashley Waugh is in a unique position going into this year’s Fonterra director elections in which three seats are being vacated. The Te Awamutu farmer is the only sitting director going for re-election. Two sitting directors -- former chairman John Wilson and Nicola Shadbolt -- retire at the annual meeting at Lichfield next month. Waugh, first elected to the board three years ago, says his message to Fonterra farmers hasn’t changed. “When I ran for the board three years ago I wasn’t happy with the commercial performance of Fonterra,” he told Dairy News. “I was not happy with the dividend stream; I was skeptical about the money being spent in China, having been in a commercial chief executive role where I almost fell in the same potholes myself.” Waugh believes Fonterra must be in China -- the centre of growth in dairy. With all other big brands Fonterra

must have a strong China footprint. Waugh says after joining the board he started pushing for better commercial performance so farmers and investors could get a better return on their capital. “If you go back 30-40 years dairy farming in New Zealand was all for capital gains: you could run your business backwards and still make money; but those days are gone. “Now the average dairy farmer in NZ is running his business to make a commercial profit and get a decent return on investment in land, animals and shares.” Waugh says he was vocal on the roadshow for board candidates three years ago. “I have been true to my commitment to the people who voted for me last time; I’ve stayed focused on holding the management to account for commercial delivery.” Waugh is a member of the board finance committee, putting him “close to the numbers”. He says he has a good working relationship with management but is also one of the directors who challenges them “not in a destructive way but to

Ashley Waugh

make them think about they are doing”. Waugh, who was chief executive of former Australian dairy processor National Foods before retiring to the farm in Te Awamutu, says he has “seen all behaviours”. “I’ve been there; there are times when management needs your support; there are other times they need

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a bit of pushing.” Waugh says Fonterra is not all bad; contrary to media reports and what some farmers say, Fonterra isn’t broken. “It’s a good company and has done some very successful things but they get overshadowed.” He points to its whey ingredients business in Europe, which allows the

co-op to make ingredients and sell within the EU and other countries. “These businesses don’t get airtime because they are relatively lighter in capital.” But Waugh agrees the Beingmate investment in China has been challenging during his tenure on the board. “Anyone who thinks the board wasn’t addressing Beingmate are completely wrong; farmers have money invested there and the China farms and obviously they are key issues for the board.” Waugh admits Fonterra’s last financial results were a shocker. But he points out that the co-op had two respectable years prior to the $196 million loss. “Since I have been on the board Fonterra has had two respectable years when they have paid a 40c dividend each year. The company performed pretty well through the recovery of milk price going from $3.90 to $4.40 to $6.12 and lifting dividend streams through those two years; they were two very strong commercial years.” He says wearing the costs of Beingmate and Danone related transactions impacted its bottom line.



Need real farmers NIGEL MALTHUS

THE FONTERRA board needs real

farmers with their own skin in the game, says would-be director John Nicholls. He is one of two self-nominated candidates, up against three endorsed by the candidate assessment panel. He believes it is a system “not 100% fit for purpose” because of its tendency to favour directors “whose day-to-day revenue line does not depend on milk”. This process could end up with five or six out of the seven farmerelected members being professional directors/executives rather than farmers, he says. Along with his wife Kelly, Nicholls owns the Rylib Group, which has six dairy farms in the Hinds area of MidCanterbury. Nicholls is also chair of MHV Water, an irrigation cooperative supplying water to 50,000ha in the Ashburton district. “Kelly and I make our living from dairy farming,” says Nicholls. “We rely on the cheque on the 20th of the month. It’s absolutely paramount for us. “Sure, I’m no longer in the shed milking cows but I used to be. I still understand exactly what’s going-on on our properties right now. I’m very clear on our processes, our achievements, our strategy moving forward.” Nicholls emphasises his track record of success in growing the business from small beginnings. The couple started in Wairarapa where they converted a property with seed capital from his parents. “Wairarapa was a really hard place to farm. You only ever made money one in every three years without irrigation water and it taught us a lot of lessons. The second year in, our advisers were telling us to not con-

tinue this journey.” Seeing opportunity in Mid-Canterbury, they moved south in 2005, buying two farms in their first year. Their six farms now employ 30 staff, milking 5,000 cows and producing 2.5 million kgMS. Nicholls said a Rabobank executive development programme for primary producers (EDPPP) course had opened his eyes to the opportunities in strategic thinking, driving cash out of John Nicholls a business, making growth plans and identifying goals. “That was quite a turning point for me, and at that stage we started to employ key people in our business to enable us to do what we do.” But he strongly rejects the label ‘corporate farmer’. “I’m a large family farmer. It’s only Kelly and me; we don’t have a big board sitting beside it, we don’t have any outside equity. To me we are a large family business.” Nicholls calls Fonterra a good company, but not a great company, marred by poor investment decisions. His children and his friends’ children all ask ‘why invest in Fonterra?’ and he wanted them to ask ‘why not?’ “We’ve got to be an intergenerational company, a strong Fonterra protects our investment as dairy farmers and supports the country too.” Nicholls says Fonterra’s success is paramount for the success of the dairy industry but its strategy stalled on the goal of a 30 billion litre milk pool by 2025. “When you read the accounts

you’re still unsure if growing the milk pools is increasing the EBIT line. It’s hard to see at this point in time. “Again, I keep saying that to drive financial performance we’ve got to drive cash generation in this business and that might mean right-sizing our cost structure.” Nicholls said that farmers had been through two periods -- the 2009 global financial crisis and the 2015 $3.90 milk price – when they had to rip into their cost structures to survive. Rylib’s first priority was to look after its people but they were ruthless on everything else. “But I do wonder if Fonterra’s had that element of oversight.” Nicholls served on the Fonterra shareholders council for three years, which he said gave him a huge insight into the business and connection with key people in the leadership team. Nicholls said his aim would be to make sure Fonterra was focussed on driving cash generation in the business, being very conscious of spending shareholders dollars and getting a return from them. “We’ve had shareholder wealth eroded so we need to improve that and that may take a bit of time.” Nicholls is not in favour of splitting Fonterra between its commodity and consumer arms. “With our consumer business, the real question is how we can extract the most value. For now I think there is more [upside/potential to generate cash] by lifting it from being an average business to a really good business.”


MAORI AGRIBUSINESS leader Jamie Tuuta says Fonterra’s cooperative philosophy aligns with his own values and the Maori worldview. “I work on the basis that as a board member of Fonterra you are the guardian of the future against the claims of the present. “This approach requires careful balancing of often competing tensions to ensure equity among our farmer shareholders current and future. We have a legacy to uphold and build on.” Tuuta says he is passionate about FonJamie Tuuta terra delivering value to farmer shareholders. “I believe Fonterra should be the exemplar for other New Zealand and global companies. Fonterra has the opportunity to lead the way in demonstrating appropriate environmental, social and cultural standards alongside outstanding financial performance.” Tuuta is no stranger to dairy farming; he is a shareholder of PKW Incorporation, a large farming business in Taranaki. He served as chairman of PKW for six years before being appointed the Maori trustee. As the Maori trustee and chief executive of Te Tumu Paeroa for the last seven years he has worked closely with farmers and land owners to develop

resilient businesses. “I have also maintained a close connection with the evolution of the co-op over the years given its importance to my area of work.” Tuuta has at least 20 years governance experience in iwi development, agribusiness, fishing, investment, health, housing, tourism, philanthropy and education. “My breadth of experience and leadership across multiple sectors and businesses, including a deep understanding of the Maori economy, would benefit the board and the cooperative.” Tuuta believes Fonterra is critical to NZ’s success economically and environmentally and must remain globally competitive. “We must take the necessary steps to make Fonterra the global leader. In doing this Fonterra has the role of maximising the value of our farmers’ milk and making quality decisions regarding capital allocation.” The board must be committed to that strategy -- must ‘own’ it -- and must have effective governance culture and hold management to account. Tuuta also wants Fonterra’s board to be transparent in financial reporting and practice a high standard of compliance in regulatory environments. “We are operating in a dynamic environment that requires the cooperative to understand our risks and devise means to reduce exposure and build our resilience.”

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Simpler and more disciplined co-op FORMER FONTERRA

Leonie Guiney

director Leonie Guiney is keen to return to the board and contribute to “a simpler, more disciplined but successful cooperative”.

The South Canterbury farmer, a director from 2014 to 2017, wants Fonterra to recognise and allocate capital to its core strengths. “Fonterra needs to

cease trying to be what we are not,” she says. Guiney also wants Fonterra to accurately assess the risks. “Fonterra’s balance sheet is not in a strong

position in an environment where we are losing milk. “We will need courage in our decisionmaking to protect our cooperative that is absolutely worth protecting and strengthening. “We need an attitude to stewardship of owners’

their product price will be prioritised, which is why they choose to own their own supply chain – or become price takers. “Much of Fonterra’s recent investment activity has not been core to delivering that end, and has actually weakened Fonterra’s ability to invest

“We need an attitude to stewardship of owners’ capital.” capital, and a direction that restores the trust of our farmer owners and the New Zealand public while enhancing our still positive reputation offshore.” Guiney believes this can and must be done for farmers and for the NZ economy. “The fact that all my income is dependent on milk provides an owners’ interest in the long term and a discipline with capital we need more, not less of, in Fonterra.” She is calling for proven performance in business and good judgement by governors. Farmer shareholders should be the judges of that, she adds. “It is their capital and their future income that is at risk.  With a farmer shareholder mandate I can be part of a shift in strategy they will be able to support. “Protecting and enhancing the jewel in our crown, which is our ingredients and to a degree our food service business, will underpin a competitive milk price long term. “A supply cooperative is nothing without the backing and trust of its farmer owners. Fonterra was formed to serve those farmers, not the other way around.” Guiney says she is guided by why, and for whom, Fonterra exists. “It was formed to protect the long term investment in farming of people who produce a perishable product that must be immediately collected and processed or its worthless . “They need to know

in our core strengths; it has also weakened the faith of co-op members . The first task is to restore their faith that their interests can and will be served by their cooperative.” Guiney also expects the new leadership team to act on non-core assets. She was encouraged by presentations at a shareholder meeting in Ashburton recently by both Hurrell and chief financial officer Marc Rivers. “I would expect action on non-core assets in the near term if they are to be able to strengthen our position to invest where we have advantages,” Guiney says. The tone of the leadership’s intentions encouraged her, she says. “They talked about a complete stocktake of where our capital is allocated, how it is delivering and whether it can continue to. “The test of that sentiment is whether they are prepared to depart from existing strategy and exit loss-making investments even if they are part of ‘integrated strategy’. I got the impression from Miles there was a preparedness to do that.” Guiney believes the poor financial results have arisen from years of poor investment decisions. “I remain concerned as to whether there is acceptance that this result is not just a consequence of management and dividend decisions from one year; that this is chickens coming home to roost after years of allocation of capital outside our capability.



Structure comes first PAM TIPA


Peter McBride says he has highly transferable and unique skills and experience to bring to the Fonterra board table. He is stepping down from his governance career with Zespri in the new year. Also chief executive of dairying and kiwifruit operation Trinity Lands, McBride says there are concerns about some Fonterra decisions and direction. “We can either throw rocks at Fonterra or we can try to make a positive contribution.” He says in a governance role with either Zespri or Fonterra “you are making decisions that impact on farmers’ and families’ livelihoods and that is quite profound”. “It is quite different from a normal corporate governance role. I am passionate about the wellbeing of rural New Zealand generally. “It is fundamental the company treats its shareholders and farmers with respect.” McBride says he has dealt with big challenges in the kiwifruit industry and his international experience is unique. “I had to lead the Psa response, I had complex issues in China and we

have been through significant constitutional change.” McBride says he has been involved in the development of a world leading brand and has useful insights. “In key attributes they are looking for capability, leadership, governance, international experience, consumer brand experience and financial acumen. I bring all of those to the table.” He will be interested to see the work on Fonterra’s purpose because purpose defines strategy, he says. “While directors have a fiduciary responsibility, I believe that acting in the best interests of New Zealand dairy farmers is acting in the long term interest of the company, that is the lens that I look through in terms of purpose and the strategy should flow from that.” Fonterra obviously has balance sheet issues and complex issues in China, he says. “You need to get the process right. You need to understand your purpose but also your comparative advantage -- what you are the best in the world at, narrowing down your business and giving it more focus. “Many people see the structure as the problem. I don’t really see that. The issue stems from the per-

formance of the company first; structure always follows strategy. The key issue is to redefine the strategy first to make sure it is right for the company and the farmers.” From a personal perspective McBride says he is an independent person. “I am not a sycophantic sort; I will challenge everything. “My role as chairman at Zespri is quite different

from the role of a director. “I am my own person, I don’t represent any group and I am not interested in industry politics. I am interested in performance and outcomes.” McBride says it is easy to define problems but “much harder to look for solutions and make a positive contribution and that is the way I operate.”

Peter McBride

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14 //  NEWS

Awards boost careers Share Farmers of the Year, Chris and Sally Guy, say taking part in the dairy industry awards has been life-changing. “As well as enabling us to grow professionally, the awards opens an invaluable network in the industry and offers entrants the chance to be part of a supportive and like-minded community,” they say. “You will learn much, connect with industry professionals and grow your career just by being part of the process.” Entries for the AucklandHauraki Dairy Industry Awards close on November 16. Sally Guy says the awards enable people working in the industry -- trainees, dairy mangers, share farmers -- to be recognised for their involvement. “The awards programme brings a focus on learning, development and growth. Entrants are given the opportunity to connect with leading professionals, join a community of like-minded people and grow from the experience offered.

Auckland-Hauraki Share Farmers of the Year 2018 Chris and Sally Guy.

“There is a positive and encouraging atmosphere where you will meet supportive rural professionals from your region and your regional committee members, all there to mentor and support entrants in achieving excellence through their career.” Entrants in the Auckland-

Hauraki region will be offered mentors by their team leaders. This year Quinn Youngman, Auckland-Hauraki Trainee of the Year, will mentor the trainees; Terence Potter, Auckland-Hauraki Dairy Manager of the Year, will mentor the dairy managers; and Chris Guy, Auckland-Hauraki Share Farmer

of the Year, will mentor the share farmer entrants. Auckland-Hauraki awards regional manager Amber Carpenter says the committee encourages visiting the awards website or the Auckland-Hauraki awards Facebook page. There are also national earlybird prize draws for entrants before October 20 (as follows): Share Farmer of the Year, XR150 Honda motorbike, value $4200; Dairy Manager of the Year, Honda lawnmower and blower, value $2000; and Dairy Trainee of the Year, Honda lawnmower, value $1000. The awards are sponsored by Westpac, DeLaval, Ecolab, Federated Farmers, Fonterra Farm Source, Honda Motorcycles, LIC, Meridian Energy, Ravensdown, DairyNZ and Primary ITO. Auckland-Hauraki entrants can also win a regional entrants’ prize -- a fishing pack valued at $2105 from Boehringer Ingelheim. The prize will be drawn at the regional events dinner on the March 10, 2019.

AT LEAST half of the sites for the 2019 South Island Agricultural Field Days (SIAFD) have been sold and would-be exhibitors are encouraged to secure a spot promptly, the organisers say. SIAFD spokesman Daniel Schat says the website makes it easy to register for a site online. “We have revamped the website and while parts of it will be updated closer to the SIAFD event, the registration section is working perfectly. It is the best way to book a site.” Alastair Robinson, a dairy farmer at Waikuku, is the new chairman of the SIAFD committee that oversees finances and running of the SIAFD Society. Robinson in 2015 chaired the SIAFD organising committee when the event was first held in Kirwee. Preparations for the 2019 field days are tracking well, he says, and the committee is improving the venue infrastructure. “Agricultural technology is the primary focus of SIAFD and we are proud of our status as the field day with the largest machinery demonstrations in New Zealand.” Every two years the three-day field days attract about 30,000 visitors. It runs from 8.00am to 5.00pm, Wednesday 27 March to Friday 29 March 2019 at the permanent site near Kirwee.

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NEWS  // 15




October 18

Dairy Womens Network, post calving catch-up, Jo’s Home Cookery, Dargaville 12pm1pm

Social catch-up and celebrate the end of calving, with speakers Graeme Ewenson talking about preventative animal health measures and Julie Jonker, Rural Support, providing support and answering questions on Mycoplasma bovis.

October 18

Catch up with others doing the Dairy Womens same as you – feeding calves. Network post calving catchup at Wild Oats Café, Carterton. 12pm- 1pm.

Taranaki (Oct 23), Manawatu (Oct 25), Waikato (Nov 1), Canterbury (Nov 6), West Coast (Nov 8), Southland (Nov 13)

Dairy Business of the Year farm field days.

October 24

The 2018 national and regional winners have opened their farms for exclusive on-site events. Hear from some our most resilient and sustainable farmers. Registration essential, lunch provided. Enjoy a night out to celebrate the North Otago Annual Calving end of calving. Your chance to win Awards, Portside prizes as well. Restaurant, Oamaru. 7pm9pm.

November 8

Smaller Milk and Supply Herds (SMASH) field day, Kereone.

Hosts John and Ann Higgens milk 210 cows on a 16-hour milking interval and will explain how the system works for them. 10am start, morning tea and lunch provided. For registration and more info, visit

November 14

Smaller Milk and Supply Herds (SMASH) field day, Otorohanga

Hosts Vern and Theresa Corbet have installed in-shed feeders and cup removers and upgraded their plant. See how the system works for them. For registration and more info visit www.smallerherds.

November 21-23

Australasian Dairy Science Symposium, Palmerston North

The 8th Australasian Dairy Science Symposium has the theme ‘Dairy Science for Profitable and Sustainable Farming’; keynote speakers from Europe and Australasia will look at identifying challenges and developing solutions in dairying in 2030.

Tell the dairy farming community about your event through the Dairy Diary. Email event info to

IN BRIEF Co-op moves on sustainability FONTERRA HAS appointed an independent sustainability advisory panel. Chief executive Miles Hurrell says the panel represents one part of the co-op’s wider strategy to build sustainability into everything it does. “Our independent panel will help ensure our strategy is relevant to current and evolving sustainability trends while being integrated into commercial objectives,” says Hurrell. “Some of the world’s biggest sustainability challenges are in food and we believe, like many, that the global food system must shift from being part of the problem to becoming a greater part of the solution.

Our co-op is already taking action to support healthy environments and strong communities, but we know we must do more.” The panel is chaired by Sir Rob Fenwick who co-founded the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development. Other members are Paul Gilding, a former global head of Greenpeace; Aroha Mead, a researcher in Mātauranga Māori and indigenous knowledge; Bridget Coates, chair of White Cloud Dairy Innovation; Hugh Logan, who chaired the Land and Water Forum; and Michelle Pye, agribusiness leader and a member of the Fonterra shareholders’ council.


16 //  WORLD

Ireland assembles its agrifood units On an Enterprise Ireland Study Tour, Dairy News reporter Mark Daniel observed the Irish dairy industry, noting that the country’s food and drink exports are valued at about €12.6 billion, split between international markets at 32% (€4bn), the EU at 33% (€4bn) and the UK at 35% (€4.5bn).

Ireland has 1.34 million cows.

WITH THE UK’s Brexit scheduled for April 1, 2019, discussions are cen-

tred on tariffs, with a general call for a ‘soft’ Brexit that would allow present

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cross-border agreements to apply in the foreseeable future. A December 2017 livestock survey showed that the Irish national herd is about 1.34 million dairy cows out of the EU total of 23.5 million head. Numbers increased by 3.7% over the 2016 season to an average herd size of 80 cows and a contribution of 30% of gross agricultural output. Comprising about 5% of the EU’s total dairy cows and 4% of Eurozone milk supply, herds are mostly Holstein/Friesian with cross-breeding on the increase largely to Jersey sires. In 1973 Ireland had about 1.34 million cows in 97,000 herds; today it has 1.34 million cows in 18,000 herds. Average herd size is 80 cows, versus 14 cows per herd in 1973. Much of the increase in cow numbers occurred in 2015 when the milk production quota was dropped; at that time the average herd numbered 65 cows.

Total milk production for the 2017 season was 7 billion litres: 538m L liquid milk (down 10%), 222,000 tonnes of butter, 120,000 tonnes of skim milk production and 205,000 tonnes of cheese. Ireland’s milk production represents no more than 1% of world production. The country claims to be the largest supplier of specialised infant milk formula, particularly to Asian markets. Looking forward, the Irish Agri-Food Strategy is centred on two key initiatives: Food Harvest 2020 and Food Wise 2025. The former seeks to grow food exports to €12 billion by 2020, and to grow milk output by 50% to achieve a Euro market share of 7-8%. The Food Wise 2025 is aimed at increasing agrifood exports by 85% to €19 billion, increasing the value of primary production by 65% to €10 billion, and creating an extra 23,000 jobs in the agrifood sector.

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farm noted its focus on dairying: a €2 million dairy research and education faculty sponsored by seven leading industry names such as Dairymaster, Glanbia, The Irish Holstein Association and Progressive Genetics. Hosted by Associate Professor Karina Pierce, farmers and journalists from Europe and beyond learned that the farm has 200 cows in two groups, the first a 60-cow herd of high EBI spring calving cows managed on high input/output, and the second a mob of 140 head split between 80 spring and 60 autumn calvers managed in a grass focussed regime. The farm’s extensive buildings centre on a 40-bail rotary milking plant, configured with four feed lines for trials work, with specialised handling and observation areas for students and visitors. The farm is focussed on understanding current and developing new systems of milk production since the EU quota removal. It recognises that grassbased milk production predominates in Ireland, so is concerned with such challenges as restricted and fragmented land areas that inhibit expansion.


OPINION  // 17

Fonterra, we need you here CHRIS SIMPSON

HERE’S A question: one of these things is not like the others; it just doesn’t belong; which is it? Google HQ, Apple HQ, Amazon HQ, Fonterra HQ. Don’t get me wrong, this article isn’t a sneaky IQ test. It’s a simple, opportunistic shoutout for Fonterra returning to its roots and being where the action is in smart dairy. That’s here in Waikato. Before I get shot down, direct all criticism to me at I’m the friendly chief executive of the Waikato Chamber of Commerce and Industry, meaning I’m a shameless salesperson for Waikato and Waikato business.

So Fonterra, this is my sales pitch for you to move your HQ back to Hamilton, where we would support you and promote you. And you would be in the rural heartland to show off what you do to international visitors, etc. “But we need to be in Auckland,” we hear you saying. “Just as Google, Apple and Amazon are all headquartered in New York.” No, hang on a minute. They are headquartered pretty much where the opportunity is and pretty much where they started. Now, Fonterra, you must know -- as any good salesperson knows -that you need a product people want to buy, so we suggest you adopt the following 7-point sales pitch: 1. Smart Agri IT 2. Smart Agri IT

Fonterra moved into its new head office in Auckland in early 2016. Inset: Chris Simpson.

3. Smart Agri IT 4. A massive sports industry they loves your protein. 5. A quaternary sector that would make any region proud regarding think-

ing (look up quaternary if you don’t know the word; it’s much smarter than tertiary) 6. Agri lawyers, accountants, etc 7. Lots of farmers.

We want you to visit us here to discuss the opportunity presenting to you. We know you have lots of staff, etc, so we’ll take it slowly and wait for your leases to run out in

Auckland. Seriously, we are open to discussing this because we are among your big supporters and we passionately believe in our region.



BTW I’m not a yokel bumpkin pushing this idea. I’m a former director of the Government research unit in Parliament and I spent time with Sir Dryden Spring, former chair of NZ Dairy Board, understanding the protein economy. I was then an economic and trade advisor to the Japanese Ambassador and rounded out my time in Wellington working in the Australian Embassy as an international operations advisor where I pushed the protein story. I’ve come home to support Waikato and my brother is a dairy farmer. I’m serious about your opportunity to be part of the disruption we need in Hamilton/ Waikato, to put us on the map. I’d be proud to have a lunch with you and I’m happy to pay.


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Who best to elect?

MILKING IT... Born to moan IT’S AMAZING what people can find to moan about these days. Take for example the Taxpayers Union that singled out Christchurch City Council for its catering costs in 2017. The headline in the union’s media release read, ‘Canterbury catering costs revealed: Christchurch City Council spends $51,000 on milk’. WOW! It turns out the council spent $350,208 on entertainment, gifts and catering which included the $51,000 on milk. What’s the problem? It wasn’t alcohol, soft drinks or water – it was money spent on the most nutritious drink available. The mind boggles at the stupidity of this born-to-moan outfit.

Fake milk in Aussie

Cows’ misery portrayed

Climb every mountain

A NEW audit of plantbased milk alternatives in Australia shows the category has grown by 58% in several products in two years, but health professionals are alerting Australians that not all ‘mylks’ are nutritionally equal. The Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council (GLNC) audited 112 products in the four major supermarkets -- nut milks, grain milks (e.g. oat, rice), legume milks (e.g. soy, pea), coconut milks and mixes; it reviewed all label nutrition information. Since the last audit of its kind in 2016, the number of coconut milk products has doubled (+220%), nut milks have increased by 90% and the wellestablished legume milk category is up by 36%. But comparing these with dairy milk, GLNC says some plant-based milks don’t stack up nutritionally and many fall short on valuable calcium and protein.

PETA IS at it again. It has rolled out Carly the cow to US schoolchildren, telling them of the complex emotional lives of cows and their suffering at the hands of dairy farmers and the wider industry. Carly, a life-size mechanical cow, is voiced by actor and longtime animal rights activist Alicia Silverstone, who most recently starred in American Woman. Silverstone narrates Carly’s trauma as a dairy farm cow, seeing calves taken away from their mothers when they’re just 1 or 2 days old. PETA says this also helps children understand that cows have a lot in common with humans, e.g. feelings of love, loss, and loneliness. This campaign is a response to the dairy industry’s promotion of milk in US schools.

YOU WOULD be udderly surprised to encounter a Simmental or Braunvieh running up the steps of New York’s One World Trade Center or Shanghai’s equally tall World Financial Center. But that’s the kind of climb – albeit on dirt trails, not concrete steps – a typical Swiss dairy cow makes every summer.  According to the Swiss Federal Agricultural Office, about 270,000 cows are marched from their valley farms to mountain meadows at the start of every summer, just to come back down again in early autumn. Why do it? Dairy farmers have incentives to herd their cattle high. On the one hand, they get top dollar for the aromatic ‘Alp cheese’ made from the milk of their livestock. From June to early September, alpine pastures serve up a smorgasbord of hundreds of different grasses and herbs for the cows to graze. Lower in the valley there are only a few types.

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FONTERRA FARMER shareholders will this week receive voting papers for the 2018 director election. These are trying times for the co-op. Licking its wounds from the first-ever net loss of $196 million, the co-op is trying to win back the confidence of its frustrated shareholder base. The biggest problem Fonterra faces is the weakened faith among shareholders. They still support the co-op and believe in its ethos, however they feel let down by its inability to deliver a decent return on their investment in land and shares. A review of assets is underway; Beingmate is the first cab off the rank. Fonterra executives were in China recently talking to Beingmate and looking at its China Farms. Shareholders are waiting for an announcement on Beingmate. The co-op has already taken from Beingmate the sole distribution rights to its flagship Anmum brands. No one will be surprised if Fonterra backs out of the Beingmate deal; remember $405m has already been written off. There is also a question mark over offshore milk pools. Fonterra shareholders aren’t fools; they’ve heard the rhetoric on offshore milk pools for example, but they can read the numbers. Sadly, right now some of the offshore milk pools are not delivering to NZ farmers. During farmer shareholder meetings last month, the message to the co-op’s bosses was clear: fix the mess quickly. The shareholders also expressed concerns over the co-op’s debt levels, now at high risk in an environment where the co-op is losing milk. New chief executive Miles Hurrell has talked about a complete stocktake of where the co-op’s capital is allocated. Farmers want to know if Fonterra is prepared to depart from existing strategy and exit loss-making investments even if Beingmate is part of China’s ‘integrated strategy’. Farmers have given Hurrell and his team a chance to prove themselves. When the shareholders receive voting papers this week, they will also be digesting the payout revision announced last week. They understand that the global supply and demand situation is beyond their control. What the co-op can control is its strategy and minimise loss-making assets. Farmers firmly believe Fonterra must retain its competitiveness and that their future is a cooperative one, but not without accountability for board and management’s performance with the owners capital. Shareholders will for the next three weeks ponder who may be the best among the five candidates to take the co-op forward.

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Migrant worker threat ‘just a vote-catcher’ NIGEL MALTHUS


policy of a compulsory stand-down that would send home certain migrant workers after three years is a ‘vote-

catcher’ they don’t intend to implement, says immigration law specialist Ben De’Ath. Nevertheless De’Ath has launched a petition calling on Immigration Minister Ian Lees-Galloway to scrap the policy

and is promoting the petition at seminars for farmers nationwide. Although the policy is not due to take effect for three years, De’Ath says he gets daily queries from farmers worried about what it would mean. It is

unfair on migrant workers and threatens farmers already short of skilled labour, he said. De’Ath is the principal of The Regions Immigration and Recruitment company, which places migrants, especially Filipi-

nos, into the dairy industry. “New Zealand can’t afford to have a one-sizefits-all immigration policy [applying to] the dairy industry,” he said. “The whole agriculture sector, whether it’s your absentee farm owner Ben De’Ath, immigration law specialist.

2IC NOW RECOGNISED AS SKILLED POSITION BEN DE’ATH is welcoming a “huge victory” in getting Immigration NZ to recognise assistant farm manager, or 2IC, as an intermediate skilled position on dairy farms. Immigration NZ assesses migrant visas according to the ANZSCO (Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations) system, which grades occupations but lists only two skill levels in dairy

farming: level 1 for farm managers and level 5 for farm workers. With nothing in between, there is no ANZSCO equivalent for assistant farm managers. However, Immigration NZ has now published a ‘Visa Pak’ of guidelines for staff and applicants. “It acknowledges ANZSCO fails to address the middle positions on a dairy farm, and

gives immigration officers guidelines how to assess these positions,” says De’Ath. The Visa Pak notes that assistant farm manager appears on the immediate skills shortage list (ISSL), so clarifies the approach staff must take when a visa applicant for a 2IC position meets the ISSL qualification and experience requirements. It defines an assistant farm manager as someone

on a $60,000-plus salary on a farm of 500-plus cows, with responsibilities such as running the shed, feed budgeting, record keeping, pasture management, and training, rostering and supervising junior staff. The ANZSCO system was devised 20 years ago, when it may have covered the 200-cow “mum’n’dad” farms but not the modern dairy business.

or your hands-on farm manager, are terrified and scratching their heads at the concept that any of these people could be stood down. “This proposed standdown policy was futuredated three years in advance because they had no intention of carrying through with it. They simply put it in play to try to catch a few votes in Auckland from people

who blame people milking cows in rural NZ for Auckland housing prices.” De’Ath said he launched the petition to “front-foot” the issue. De’Ath claims great turnouts at the meetings, which started in Northland in late September and will end in Southland on October 17. The petition has surpassed its target of 2000 signatures before the half-way mark.


MILK COOLING Milk cooling affects milk quality. The quicker the milk is cooled after milking, the better the quality when it is collected from the farm. The Ministry for Primary Industries is introducing new milk cooling standards; new rules apply to all converted farms immediately and to all farms from June 1 2018.

To be in this special report contact your advertising representative now to promote your products and/or service to all NZ dairy farmers and sharemilkers. Contact your closest Sales Representative

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OPINION  // 19

Good news coming for farmers on emissions STEVEN CRANSTON

I CAN now say with con-

fidence that the conversation on agricultural emissions is in for a huge shake-up. Policymakers who have long criticised agriculture’s contribution to global warming are now realising it was a misunderstanding. The truth is New Zealand agriculture is almost certainly not adding to further warming of the atmosphere. This means farmers are already meeting their Paris Agreement obligations to keep warming under 2 degrees C, thus negating any moral argument to pay a tax under the ETS. What has changed? Two major developments in the last three months have allowed the discussion to move past the endless debate on the physics of methane to a more substantive discussion on what agriculture must do to avoid further warming. The first was the release of the recently created metric called

GWP*. This effectively ‘zeros’ agriculture’s methane emissions at warming neutral, calculated to be on average a 0.3% annual reduction. If emissions go up, GWP* puts a CO2 equivalent warming value on

Report which confirmed that a 10 - 22% reduction by 2050 will offset any warming by methane. The 10% figure assumes moderate mitigation action by other countries and would be a fair starting point, given that inter-

“A smart ETS is what our industry needs to compete internationally against synthetic protein makers.” that. Also, critically, if emissions go down this metric will put a CO2 equivalent cooling value on that. Many people are still waking up to the fact that a greater than 0.3% reduction in methane emissions will result in a cooling trend. The Productivity Commission was impressed by the potential of this new metric; it said “GWP*’s greater accuracy would justify its use to guide policy decisions about relative mitigation efforts between short- and long-lived gases”. The second development was the release of Simon Upton’s PCE

national action to date has been limited. A 10% reduction might sound significant, but this correlates exactly to the 0.3% annual reduction used in GWP*. Most interesting was what the Upton report did not include. Agricultural emissions have reduced by a combined 2.9% in our last two years of available data without any taxes or forced land use change. The short story is, agricultural methane emissions can effectively be stabilised at current levels without adding to warming. How the report managed to conclude that 1.3 - 2.8 million of hect-

Steven Cranston

ares of farm land must be converted to forestry to stop warming will be worth discussing another day. With clear evidence that agricultural methane is not adding to warming, the question then becomes what is? Nitrous oxide is a long-lived gas that makes up about 15% of agriculture’s total emissions. Basic maths would suggest all of these N20 emissions can be offset by about 870,000ha of typical native bush. Sheep and beef farmers alone are estimated to have 1.4 million ha of woody vegeta-

tion on their properties. So it appears that NZ agriculture creates no additional warming. Where to from here? Industry-good bodies like DairyNZ and Beef & Lamb are in an excellent position to turn the Carbon Zero Bill into a major boon for agriculture by leading in the development of a smart ETS. A smart ETS is exactly what our industry needs to compete internationally against synthetic protein makers and the increasingly vocal antimilk and meat brigade. It will also go a long way to


improving public opinion which has been damaged by repeated attacks from activist groups with limited understanding of agricultural emissions. The idea that agriculture contributes 46% of NZ’s emissions is only true if we use the outdated GWP100 accounting system. If NZ truly wants to be a world leader in this we must use an accurate metric that correlates to actual warming. Again, there is nothing in the Paris Agreement that would prohibit us from using more advanced metrics. Farmers should accept nothing less. The definition of net zero emissions has not even been defined by the Government yet; both option 2 and option 3 can be considered net zero. This zero warming con-

cept is effectively option 2 and will still comply with the Government’s 2050 target. The entire submissions process will in hindsight be viewed as a massive waste of government resources. There is a very important point in this debate that farmers and the general public need to understand; no policy maker or climate scientist with any credibility will come out and say agriculture is adding to further warming. They have simply worked out that if they can force farmers to reduce their emissions, then the rest of the country can keep on warming for longer. I will let you decide if you think that is fair. • Steven Cranston is an agricultural consultant at Cranston Consulting, Hamilton.

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AS IN the other primary sectors,

dairy is experiencing a demand for labour, says Jane Muir, DairyNZ people team manager. Southland and Canterbury are the regions most short of labour, Muir told Dairy News. “That is driven by unemployment rates even lower in the South Island than the rest of the country and low for quite a while.” And more people are moving into urban areas: about 85% of people in NZ now live in towns or cities. “We would like more people to come and work in dairy,” Muir says. “DairyNZ has heaps of programmes to attract more people. They start in primary schools and work with children. We have our Rosy programme creating awareness of opportunities in dairy and the wider primary sector.” In secondary schools DairyNZ has TeenAg clubs and it takes

part in career expos, so exposing youngsters to opportunities. “We try to encourage career changers to see the skills they might have that can be used in the primary sector to give them a rewarding career.” About 35,000 people currently work on dairy farms in NZ and DairyNZ’s work suggests that every year 3500 people need to come into dairy to replace those leaving -- about 10%, says Muir. “From our understanding that is reasonably in line with other sectors’ turnover; it is nothing unusual.” But the commitment under the Dairy Tomorrow strategy is to provide “great workplaces for the most talented workforce”. DairyNZ seeks to offer the most competitive workplaces in NZ, “with great work conditions, competitive hours, rewarding careers -- jobs where people can have a purpose,” Muir says. “That is our goal. We want to be at the leading edge of providing great workplaces.” Farmers wanting to retain or

you can learn are attract workers transferable. So must examine once you are in, their workforce you learn great needs to put things about worktogether packing onfarm and ages -- all the you can possibly work conditions transition to being -- that appeal to a professional and people, she says. working in the pri“There are mary sector.” heaps of great There are many things about positives stoworking on ries about people a dairy farm, who have changed like the variety Jane Muir, DairyNZ. from a wide range that people get working outdoors, working with of careers and now work on dairy animals -- things that are natu- farms, Muir says. They are valuable rally appealing. Then making sure members of the sector. “They often stay a long time you are being a really good boss -- fair, communicating well, com- and find it rewarding -- those pospetitive wages and salaries, hours itive things, working with animals, of work that allow for good work- making a difference. There is a life balance, fair rosters, good strong sense of purpose in dairy; team morale, people getting posi- we are a key contributor to the NZ tive feedback and opportunities to economy in dollars and in looking after NZ for future generations.” learn and grow. “The dairy and wider primary • See DairyNZ’s ‘Go Dairy’ web sector is such an awesome oppor- pages for opportunities. tunity because it is a key employer @dairy_news of NZers and a lot of the skills

SEED FIRM JOINS HUB CHANGE IS in the air for PGG Wrightson’s Christ-

church staff as a new building takes shape to house PGW Seeds on the AgResearch campus at Lincoln. The building will house about 90 of the PGW Seeds team now working at the company’s Hornby, Christchurch base where the lease will soon expire. Other staff there -- corporate, retail and water, real estate, livestock and wool -- will relocate to the Christchurch airport campus when the seeds business moves to Lincoln. The new PGW Seeds building is on the Springs Road frontage of the AgResearch campus opposite Lincoln University. It will be finished in mid 2019. AgResearch and PGW Seeds leaders say it’s a big step forward for them both, and for the burgeoning research and innovation hub at Lincoln. PGW’s general manager seed and grain, John McKenzie, says it makes sense for the seeds business to join its key research and business partners because “science and people are closely linked”. The team will be close to key partners AgResearch, Lincoln University, Plant and Food Research a PGW’s Kimihia Research Centre a few kilometres to the north. “Moving… to Lincoln will provide our staff with… close interaction with our key partners… and will expose our operation to Lincoln University students and allow post-graduate students to work with us.”






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A fantastic office on w As the dairy season starts to peak it’s not only a busy time for farmers, but also those who support them – such as the milk tanker drivers. Reporter Peter Burke joined Westland Milk Products (WMP) driver Justin Wells recently on one of his daily collection runs on the West Coast. THE COLLECTION

area for WMP is large and long, stretching at least 500km from the farms in the north at Karamea to as far south as Hari Hari in South Westland, and the inland areas up river valleys along the way. Then there are the farms in Canterbury: in total 429 shareholding farmers with average herd size of 400 cows. The region has a long proud history of dairy farming and in a few months will celebrate 150 years of dairying on the Coast. Wells is an old hand -- driving trucks for

40 years, the last 28 of these driving tankers for Westland. A Coaster by birth, he has always driven trucks, saying even when he was young he used to watch the Westland milk tankers and a few rides in the cab were enough to motivate him to eventually seek a career as a tanker driver. It’s the ultimate job with lots of variety, he says. “What a great office I have up here in the cab of this truck. It’s fantastic. I love the West Coast scenery and the occasional trips to Canterbury. It’s a great

job,” Wells says. The trip I join him for is to collect milk from four farms in the Grey Valley around the township of Ahaura about 70km from the Hokitika factory base. This is Wells’ second trip for the day. He is on day shift which means he starts any time between 4am and 6am and does one collection run and comes back to Hokitika and has a break before setting off again about lunchtime. The transport rules require all drivers to have a break after driving for five and a half hours. “The afternoon or

Tanker driver Justin Wells collects milk samples for testing during his milk run.

The tanker rolls up on a farm at Hari Hari to pick up milk.

BOLLYWOOD-LOVING COWS IN AN average year the truck will drive about 240,000km and Justin Wells about 80,000km. The day I am with Wells the weather couldn’t be better and along the road there is evidence of the history of the region. For instance we pass the site of the Brunner Mine disaster of 1896 in which 65 miners died in an explosion in the mine. Because I am the son of a West Coast mother I feel a sense of nostalgia as we drive up the valley to the farms. But the weather is not always like this, says Wells.

“Over the years I have been through horrific flooding and lightning storms on the night shift -- flash after flash after flash. In South Westland where there are gorges you can get bad storms and winds coming down the valley bringing down trees. “I remember one morning I was coming back from Hari Hari at 5am and on the highway was a big rimu tree across the road. Luckily with the help of a motorist going to milk cows we managed to break some branches and just get past. But that’s driving on the

West Coast.” As we call at each of the four farms the routine is the same – first negotiate the tanker track and loop, take the milk sample and then hitch up the pipe from the vat to the tanker. Everything is carefully recorded. When the tanker calls, the farmers are usually out on the farm doing other work but Wells says he sometimes gets to meet the farmers and have a yarn. Over the years he’s seen and heard a lot on his rounds, but one incident stands out. “Once down in South Westland I went into a dairy farm and they weren’t quite expecting me that evening. They had a few cows left to milk and I went into the cow shed to talk to the farmer and I found the cows were being lullabied to Hindi music so that

was really good. That’s the first time I had ever heard that and the cows seemed to like it.” On this tanker run Wells collects 27,000L from the four farms. It’s not a full load but it’s getting close. He’s not a dairy farmer himself but has a lifestyle block where he runs a few steers. His interest in trucks doesn’t stop when he heads home, in fact the love affair continues. Over the years he’s amassed a large collection of miniature die-cast trucks and has built a special room to house them. Wells and his fellow drivers at Westland Milk Products play a major role in the dairy industry on the Coast. The industry has known tough economic times and challenging circumstances but has survived and continues to be a mainstay of the region’s economy.

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n wheels night shift there has only one start time, 4.15pm, and we go until we finish. Some runs work out shorter or longer than the 5.5 hours so you may have to have break on the side of the road. Obviously in the peak of the season it’s busier. This morning I have been up around Springs junction (near the Lewis Pass) and back to Hokitika, and this afternoon we are off up the Grey Valley and back,” he says. Our drive initially takes us north up the coast road to Greymouth. It’s a stunning day and the deep blue sea contrasts sharply with the green hills, nearly always shrouded in mist. The farmland on the Coast is unique: the farmers have contoured and cultivated the land – they call it humping and hollowing and flipping -- to manage the high rainfall. Although

were changes and a lot of farms converted to dairy.” The scenery is beautiful on today’s run. Wells and other drivers are well placed to gauge how the season is going, in terms of the milk they are collecting and the look of the land. He reckons the season has got off to a good start with a mild winter and not a lot of rain. The road is pretty good, although one wooden bridge was narrow and one can only watch and admire how Wells handles the 23m long, nine axle tanker capable of carrying 30,000L. This is “his truck”; in fact he shares it with three other shift partners and he has been driving it for four years. “On this truck there are three drivers and two shift partners which suits our roster of three day shifts, three night

it is generally assumed the Coast is wet, it gets its share of droughts. We turn off SH6 at Greymouth and follow the Grey River valley up SH7 to the four farms we are going to collect milk from today. A few kms from Greymouth the valley opens up to reveal beautiful dairy country. But what surprises a visitor to this region is the presence of pivot irrigators in the Grey Valley. There are also K-line pod irrigators designed to deal with the hot dry summers. “At the moment it is looking good up here around the Ahaura Plains, but after Christmas that could all change because it can get very dry up here,” Wells says. “It wasn’t always dairy farms here. Years ago it was mainly sheep and beef but a few years ago there

Westland Milk tanker driver Justin Wells ready for another milk run.

shifts and three days off. The truck goes seven days a week 24/7 but of

course there is regular maintenance on it. Driving the one truck

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nine axle units because you need to get used to handling them.”

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Bag of ‘tools’ to save environment NO ‘MAGIC bullet’ exists for man-

aging a farm environmental footprint, says Ngai Tahu Farming’s general manager of dairy, Shane Kelly. Instead environmental efficiencies can be gained using a variety of tools and practices backed by scientific data and supported by key partnerships in the industry, he says. In its sixth year of development, Ngāi Tahu Farming’s 6500ha development Te Whenua Hou (the new lands)

project has seen pine forest converted to dairy farm pastures at Eyrewell, North Canterbury. Seventeen dairy and support farms are now running and three conversions remain to be done. Ngāi Tahu Farming is the iwi’s independently governed farming arm with interests in dairy, grazing and forestry. They operate under the watch of 56,000 shareholders, so must be accountable for every method and product they use. The project is to help manage the

SHARING THE DATA SHANE KELLY says the iwi’s next challenge will be new nutrient compliance limits in their zone. “We live in a world of compliance and I don’t think that is a bad thing,” he says. “As an industry we have to lift our game and our image because there is so much good stuff happening out there.” He says embracing all the available technologies will help them do better than meet compliance targets; and sharing that information with other farmers will be just as important. “The tools take time to develop, but when they actually work the farmers will use them. Technology will get us there, but it will take time. “We are fortunate in dairying that we don’t compete with our neighbour; we all supply milk to Fonterra and Synlait. Effectively we are all in the same boat, so if we can share that information we can all make the waka go a bit quicker.”

impact of development, in particular nitrogen (N) leaching. “We want to know we are doing good things for the environment,” says Kelly. “Our whakataukī (mission statement) for Ngāi Tahu Farming is Toitū te Marae o Tāne, Toitū te Marae o Tangaroa, Toitū te iwi (‘when the land and water are sustained, the people will prosper’). Mō tātou, ā, mo kā uri a muri ake nei, for us and our children after us -- that underpins the very essence of the business.” He says Ngāi Tahu expects that its involvement in farming will benefit the industry. “Not only will we show leadership where we can, but more importantly we will share knowledge and kaitiakitanga -- stewardship of the environment.” With N-use a big aspect of the conversion process, Ngāi Tahu Farming has several industry initiatives aimed at reducing nitrate leaching: lower stocking rates, planting plantain in existing and new pastures, variable rate irrigation, catch crops, less imported supplementary feed and less N fertiliser application.

Shane Kelly (left) and Ravensdown senior agri manager Sonya Perkin.

Kelly says N use has become more tactical over time, and the farms now only use Ravensdown’s coated urea product N-Protect which helps lower the risk of volatilisation losses and reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. “We’re being strategic in the use

of N, asking if we really need it,” says Kelly. “We use N strategically to create our feed when it is low-risk and lowimpact, to help set ourselves back up. “With N-Protect there is a better return; we end up using less product overall because the utilisation rate is better.”


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Maintaining nutrition as pasture quality drops silage may very well come in handy through summer and facing a 3Kg PKE limit! Talk to your farm advisor, nutritionist or Vet if you want to change things up this month.


cally refers to the plant’s structural materials or cell wall components. At this stage of the season, levels of NDF rise very rapidly in typical NZ pastures as ryegrass starts to form seed head. The practical implication of this occurring is very important from the perspective of attempting to maintain a high level of nutrients available to a cow. This is because the level of feed a cow can eat (Maximum DMI) is largely dictated by the amount of NDF she can physically ingest and ‘process’ through her rumen in 24 hours. Experimental evidence suggests that the maximum NDF a cow can eat in a day ranges from 1.2% - 1.5% of her live weight. Let’s consider a typical 500 Kg cow. Using the 1.2% - 1.5% limit, the maximum NDF she can process in 24 hours is 6.0 Kgs – 7.5Kgs. If we were to be offering her soft, leafy high quality pasture with a 35% NDF level, she would conceivably be capable of ingesting 17 – 21 Kgs DM. If we were to allow the pasture to form seed head with a 50% NDF level the amount she would be capable of ingesting would be between 12 – 15 Kgs DM. This represents a 40% reduction in the amount of feed she can physically ingest. Strangely, it is about this stage that farmers start getting frustrated with cows falling off their peak coinciding with the girls entering what appears to be ‘plenty of tucker’ and baulking at what is on offer. Further, this change in pasture quality reinforces the widely accepted ‘myth’

of cows dropping in milk production as they fall pregnant. So, what strategies can you practically employ to diminish this pasture quality effect on cow DMI? Pretty much there are two ‘levers’ you can pull. The first and most obvious is to attempt to lessen the effect of rising NDF or prolong pasture from heading through topping, shortening the round (dropping out silage) and trickling on Nitrogen based fertilisers to promote leaf growth. Another strategy is to limit the amount of poor quality high NDF feed being provided and consider increasing feeds with a more favourable nutrient profile with less NDF. One example would be reducing pasture DM on offer by 4 – 5 Kgs and providing a combination of protein and starch feeds (Canola and Tapioca for instance). To quote one of my clients who is far wiser than I ‘everything in farming is a compromise’. Yes attempting to utilise as much pasture as possible is definitely a low expenditure option, but at what cost to the cow’s production (and often fertility)? The counter-intuitive action of offering less pasture and boosting better quality feeds serves several purposes, chiefly providing her the opportunity to ingest more nutrients and less obviously banking more grass silage. This season, the extra grass

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Jacqui Forsyth, ABS general manager and Aaron Parker, CRV Ambreed.

IVF-type technology for breeding cows A NEW embryo transfer biopsy and genomic selection technology is being used to boost elite animal breeding for the dairy industry. In a New Zealand first, CRV Ambreed’s embryo transfer programme pulls together existing technology in a new way, to speed the production of elite high genetic merit bulls. Animal breeding services (ABS) general manager, Jacqui Forsyth says the embryo transfer process for the most part works like IVF for humans. “Eggs are collected from the cow using ultrasound, then placed into a medium for 24 hours to prepare them for fertilisation. The eggs are then fertilised in a petri dish to form an embryo.” The embryos are processed through complex screening which involves using a laser to cut a hole in the embryo and extracting a portion of DNA. From here, CRV Ambreed uses

genomic capabilities to screen the biopsied DNA to determine the full genomic profile of the embryo including its sex and genetic merit. CRV Ambreed’s breeding programme manager Aaron Parker says the ability to determine the sex of the embryo alone will be a huge advantage for breeders. “Our breeders benefit from this because they only implant female embryos back into their herd to create elite milking and breeding cows. “We take the high merit male embryos for our breeding programme and select the best ones to produce bulls for our progeny test programme, and ultimately offer the best bulls to dairy farmers for use when mating.” This is all new in mainstream breeding in New Zealand. The process will make CRV Ambreed’s breeding efforts “more efficient and more sophisticated”.

160 elite Friesian, Jersey and Crossbred cows and heifers have been selected NZ-wide by CRV’s breeding team to use in the programme. Once the embryos are selected, ABS will take the female embryos back to the individual farms for implantation in selected cows. Parker says this “precision breeding” approach will enable the industry to more quickly get better cows into the national herd. “By using these tools together we can drive genetic gain for profitable, healthy and efficient cows much faster.” With this technology, breeders will increase their chances to produce elite replacements and they’ll know its genetic potential before it is born. “The farmers we are partnering with can see where we’re heading in our breeding programme and the opportunities it will create for their own breeding. This [can] affect how breeding is done in NZ.

HEAVY LIFTING EASED SURGERY TO fuse four discs in his lower back

prompted beef farmer Ger Daly, in County Galway, Ireland, to think again about how to do heavy lifting on his farm. Calving 120 - 130 beef suckler cows meant that some calvings would need help -- lifting and inverting calves to clear their airways. The age-old option of throwing a calf over a five-bar gate to let gravity clear the airways was no longer an option, so Daly got practical. He designed the Pro-Revive animal resuscitator, a clever device made from two GRP panels and a steel frame that mounts to a five-bar gate; it could just as easily be fitted to a quad or UTV on a typical Kiwi farm. In operation the unit is laid flat on the ground, from where the calf is slid onto the platform. Cranking a winch causes the two halves of the unit to pivot around its central hinge, causing the boards to rise, placing the calf in the best position to clear its mouth and airways, with low stress for animal and operator. Daly recommends using a hand operated air pump at the same time to get oxygen into the animal’s lungs.

Irish farmer Ger Daly with his invention.


HAY & SILAGE  // 27

Mower is a cut above the rest


has a dairy farm and contracting business at Ngarua, near Morrinsville, where a manager looks after the farm, leaving father Trevor, and son Daniel free for the contracting work. They do some cultivation, but mostly harvest grass for dairy and goat farmers in the locality, offering a full service from cutting to raking, tedding, baling and wrapping. Says Trevor, “A lot of farmers have their own mowers but more and more they get us in to do the whole job”. The Lalichs prefer Pottinger machinery -a Jumbo 6010L loader wagon and an eightrotor 8.91T tedder, and a Pottinger A10 double rear butterfly mower with variable working width of 9.25-10m when paired with a 3.5m front mower. Trevor says this robust, well-built machine does a good cut, and despite its large working width is quite manoeuvrable. “It is easy to lift one or both rear mowers when working in smaller paddocks,” he says. The front and rear mowers’ overlap eliminate striping when turning, and the cutting width is adjustable from the cab with the ISOBUS monitor. This system also controls how the mowers lift at the headlands to cut right to the headland swath. When turning, the ISOBUS system also reduces the working

width of the rear mowers to increase the overlap between the front and rear mowers so there is less striping when encountering and moving around obstacles like water troughs or pylons. Daniel Lalich says they “largely work on flat paddocks, but if we do work in rolling country, the system allows us to easily reduce the working width from 10m to 9m from the cab hydraulically, again to avoid striping”. The geometry of the three mowers sees a centre-mounted pivot on each cutter-bar to give optimum ground tracking via a hydraulic suspension system that is fully adjustable to suit ground conditions. “As an example, “you can increase the pressure when the mower is bouncing around too much on rough ground or you can ease it off in wetter ground, so it doesn’t dig in,” Daniel says. “You can do this manually from the monitor or you can set it to automatic mode, so the system adjusts the pressure depending on the conditions although we usually leave it on the automatic setting.” The mowers have Pottinger’s exclusive ‘Y’ drive transmission gearbox, operating at 1000rpm and fitted with dual slip clutches on each side of main central gear box but not on the PTO shafts to eliminate backlash. A non-stop hydraulic breakaway system lets the mowers swing back

in the event of a collision, while at the same time the cutter bar moves upwards on a ball joint, allowing it to lift over obstacles. @dairy_news


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28 //  HAY & SILAGE

The art of making silage MAKING SILAGE is a balance: when a paddock is closed, yield increases but quality declines. For quality silage, make light crops and cut early. Quality may not be important for feeding stock on a maintenance diet. But for supplementing milking cows, or for growing young stock, quality is essential. Lighter crops, harvested earlier, produce better silage. For best ME, cut pastures before they reach a yield of 4t DM/ha (i.e. harvest about 1.5-2.5 t DM/ha). Paddocks cut earlier also regrow much faster and are available for grazing earlier than those that are not.

Using later-heading ryegrasses can help silage ME because these Applying nitrogen fertiliser after better maintain the paddock has been taken pasture quality in out of the grazing rotation for late spring. silage production can help Cut paddocks increase growth rates, so the in the afternoon paddock is available for grazing when the WSC again sooner. percentage is Fertiliser application after cutgreatest in the ting is also recommended, as plant. large amounts of nitrogen and Leafy spring potassium, in particular, are pasture has an removed in the silage. ME of 12 or more. As soon as the Silage quality has a yield exceeds 3500kg DM/ direct effect on dairy cow ha, quality decreases. milk production as shown Pastures that are not cut in the graph opposite. before 4t DM/ha can lose New Zealand farmers are Quality also dramatically 1 ME unit every two to generally good at what three weeks as stems, seed effects LWG in young happens after cutting stock. heads and dead matter Survey work has shown (stacking, compacting, increase.

Nitrogen fertiliser

Silage contractors at work on a Taranaki farm last week: PHOTO: MATTHEW HERBERT

covering etc.). The biggest reason for poor silage is making it from poor quality pasture cut too late.

Another reason is weather. If made in good conditions, pasture typically loses 0.5 ME unit through

ensiling. Rain can increase this loss. • Article sourced from www.


Silage making on a Taranaki farm last week. PHOTO: MATTHEW HERBERT

stable feed made from high quality pasture. Pasture is preserved in the absence of oxygen by a high quality fermentation to minimise any loss of feeding value. It is impossible to produce high quality silage from low quality pasture, no matter how good the fermentation is. Both the quality of the ensiled pasture and the quality of the fermentation must be considered. With well preserved silage,

Don’t waste any grass this spring Help manage your pasture with a Maxam Mower The pressure to conserve the maximum amount of feed after a wet winter is a reality farmers are facing right now. Often the window of opportunity to harvest grass during spring is quite short, due to rain interruptions. A fast wilt time is essential to retaining the most Metabolisable energy in your silage or baleage. The MAXAM mower with the Wilter spreader wilts the grass faster than any other method, so these popular machines should be considered as part of your pasture management plans this year.

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losses in feeding value during fermentation will be small, and the final silage will be only slightly lower in feeding value than the original pasture. The quality of the fermentation tells us how well the quality of the original pasture has been preserved in the silage. The lactic acid produced during fermentation causes a decrease in pH. A low pH will prevent an unwanted butyric fermentation, which reduces both the feeding value and palatibil-

ity of the silage. Low DM silage needs a lower pH than high DM silage. Low values for ammoniaN indicate minimal breakdown of protein in the silage, usually because pH has fallen quickly to a low level in the silage. High concentrations of lactic acid are seen in well preserved silage. High levels of butyric acid are found in poorly preserved silage and indicate that an unwanted butyric fermentation has occurred.


HAY & SILAGE  // 29

Pickle it now, don’t let it rot PASTURE SILAGE is a major source of supplementary feed on New Zealand dairy farms. Making high quality pasture silage should not be difficult, but it must be viewed as a supplementary feed, rather than just a necessity to manage pasture. NZ experimental results indicate that increasing silage quality by 2.3 MJ ME/kg DM increased MS production by 13, 17 and 41% in spring, summer and autumn, respectively. Higher quality feed will also increase BCS gain/kg DM eaten. Making of silage should only be done from a true surplus and the objective is to preserve as many of the original nutrients as possible. In practice, however, silage is often not made at the optimal time, and little attention is paid to the silage-making process. When grass is cut and left in a heap, it rots! Silage-making is the process of ‘pickling’ pasture to reduce the pH (acidity) to a level that stops the feed ‘rotting’ (i.e. stops microbial activity).

This is achieved through packing the pasture and covering it with plastic to exclude air, while microorganisms burn the sugars in the grass to produce lactic and acetic acid. If the silage is exposed to air (e.g. torn plastic) a chain reaction occurs that reduces silage quality. Pasture silage can be made either in a field stack, a pit/concrete bunker (on top of the ground) or as bales. Provided the quality of the material going into the silage is the same and proper attention is paid to compacting and covering the pasture, pasture silage quality should be the same from either stack/pit or baled silage. The decision to make bales or stack/pit silage is generally dependent on the farm system, the method of feeding silage and the infrastructure available for silage storage. ■■ Baled silage is more costly but enables flexibility of crop size and storage location onfarm and feeding out of small amounts on set occasions.

Top quality SILAGE QUALITY can best be ensured by: • Gathering several swaths into a windrow for improved baler performance • Producing uniform box shaped windrows that match the baler’s pick-up capacity • Making firm, well shaped bales that are easier to enclose and store • Bale chopping increases the density of the bales (fewer bales/ha so reducing costs) • Chopping also reduces the air in each bale and releases sugars, both of which improve speed of fermentation. Wrapping Wrapping silage quality can best be ensured by: • Wrapping promptly -- within 2-4hrs of baling • Wrapping close to the stack rather than transporting wrapped bales from the field to reduce chance of physical damage (this also prevents soil compaction in the field) • Using six layers of wrap to improve sealing and to protect from physical damage. IGER research has identified big increases in lysteria associated with inadequate wrapping • Using green or white wrap has been shown to reduce the temperatures of stored bales and to subsequently reduce the amount of moulding.



Stack silage can also be stored in many locations and is cheaper than baled silage. Pit/bunker silage does not offer flexibility in

storage but when properly used will result in less wastage. Pit silage is easier to compact and therefore to expel air.

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30 //  HAY & SILAGE

Minimising losses while making silage MOST LOSSES that

occur when you make silage are invisible, but they can be up to 40% of the original cut pasture.

Losses occur as sugars and protein in the grass are broken down by enzymes, and bacteria; this process starts as soon

as the grass is cut. Losses diminish quality and quantity, because it is the highly digestible components that are most

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rapidly broken down. As cut pasture waits to be picked up, sugars are lost through a process of respiration. Drier pasture is more likely to be lost while being picked up because it is more likely to break up or blow away. As the DM% of the pasture increases, so do field losses. Plant sugars are used up during fermentation to make acid. In poorly preserved silage, protein and organic matter can also be lost because of air in the stack or high pH. Fermentation losses are lowest in pasture above 25% DM. Silage effluent is surplus water from the silage, which carries soluble sugars and proteins with it as it flows out. Effluent is produced from silage made out of low DM pasture. Above 30% DM no effluent losses will occur. In dry grass silage it is a challenge to achieve good compaction. Poor compaction causes air to penetrate into the stack once it is opened. When air is present, yeasts are able to generate heat from sugars and even from lactic acid and cause

Once silage is sealed nothing can be done to change its fermentation process.

losses by converting these nutrients into heat. Optimum DM for silage is 25-30% because total DM loss is minimised and effluent losses will be minor. To achieve this, cut in the morning of a sunny day for rapid wilting. Cutting after one-two days sunny weather will result in good sugar levels in the pasture, even when cut in the morning. Avoid wilting longer than 24 hours. Compact the silage well. In a stack or pit, use the heaviest wheeled vehicle available. Tractor wheels should not sink into the pile of pasture any further than the depth of the rubber. For baled silage make sure that a high density baler is used. Seal the stack com-

pletely with a weighted, airtight cover. Wash old polythene before use to avoid contamination with the wrong bacteria. Don’t re-open a covered stack to add more pasture on another day. Once the silage is sealed nothing can be done to change the fermentation process. A good fermentation relies on no air being in the silage and having plenty

of sugar available to turn into lactic acid. Poor fermentation leads to major losses of protein quality. In poorly preserved silage protein is broken down into ammonia which decreases the feeding value of the silage. Getting things right while the grass is being harvested will maximise the chance of having a good fermentation. • Article: DairyNZ

When feeding out, don’t expose silage to air for too long.

PREVENTING BREAKDOWN SILAGE BEGINS to break down once exposed to air and will begin to heat up as micro-organisms turn the remaining sugars and protein into heat and energy. When feeding out, aim for as little time as possible between exposing the silage to air and the cow eating it. High DM% silages are particularly prone to deteriorating when exposed to air. Deterioration increases as air temperatures increase, so silage fed over summer will have higher losses than that fed in winter. Yeasts and moulds containing toxins may grow on deteriorating silage. There are a number of ways to limit losses from silage while feeding out: • Remove at least 20cm off the whole stack face each day, so silage at the face is not exposed to air for a more than one day. • Cut silage off the face, rather than pulling it off. This keeps a smooth surface at the stack face, which reduces air penetration into the stack. • Leave the stack face open on dry days to avoid heat build-up under the polythene. • Do not feed out more than one day in advance, especially in summer. • Cows will be able to eat more of the silage they are offered if it is fed out on dry paddocks or feed out areas, along fence lines, or in feed bins or troughs.


HAY & SILAGE  // 31

Silage is just pickled pasture WHEN PASTURE is

ensiled, its sugars are converted into lactic acid by bacteria. This lactic acid pickles the pasture, allowing it to be preserved for a lot longer than if it had been left in the open air. For good silage preservation, a rapid drop in pH is needed to a level where there will be no butyric fermentation, so the silage is stable until it is needed. Aerobic respiration is the first phase; it takes place while pasture is wilting in the field and while there is oxygen in the stack. Plant enzymes, and bacteria, use the oxygen to turn sugars and proteins into energy. This produces heat, an increase in numbers of bacteria, and a loss of nutrients from the pasture. Sugars and proteins are lost from the silage when left too long in the field or not covered in the stack. They are not available for cows to eat later on, and the loss of sugars can have a big bearing on how well

the silage preserves. Compaction and quick covering of the silage to remove oxygen is a key to minimising respiration losses. An American trial showed that immediate sealing of a silage stack saw all oxygen used up after five hours. A similar stack left unsealed for 48 hours took 90 hours before all oxygen was used. The potential respiration losses are huge. Lactic fermentation happens once all the oxygen has been used up; anaerobic lactic bacteria (which only function when there is no oxygen around) begin to multiply in numbers. As they do so, they turn sugars into lactic acid, which results in a drop in silage pH. This is shown as the solid line in the diagram on the next page. A low pH preserves the silage by preventing butyric fermentation. If butyric fermentation is prevented the pH will stay low; the silage will be stable and well preserved. Butyric fermentation results in the break-

ADDITIVES FOR GOOD SILAGE ACIDS SUCH as formic and sulphuric acid. They are added to lower pH in the silage, without relying on lactic acid bacteria to do it. Bacterial inoculants contain large numbers of lactic acid bacteria. They are added to increase production of lactic acid in the silage, so that the pH drops quickly to a stable level. Soluble sugars such as molasses increase the amount of sugar available for lactic acid bacteria to turn into lactic acid.


down of nutrients in the silage and a drop in the palatability of the silage for cows. Butyric fermentation is caused by other anaerobic bacteria (clostridia) which live in

higher pH conditions than the lactic acid bacteria. They turn lactic acid into acetic and butyric acid to get energy. They also get energy by breaking down protein into ammonia.


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Heat detection with no tail paint MARK DANIEL


for its calving sensor -- a device fitted to a cow’s tail where it measures movement triggered by labour contractions, then sends the farmer a SMS message when calving is imminent, usually within one hour of the event. The latest device from the Irish maker, Moocall Heat, monitors cows for heat detection, centering on a collar worn by the bull to detect his activity as he moves through the herd. The nature of the mating ritual dictates that as a cow starts to come on heat, the bull will follow and attempt to mount the female. The system monitors the

activity and records the number of attempts the bull makes to mount the cow. While the female will typically reject the advance, she will be followed by the bull and eventually stand to be serviced. At this point she is said to have entered ‘standing heat’ so the system will send an SMS message identifying the cow by her RFID ear tag to the user’s smartphone, as well as logging the event on the Moocall Breedmanager app. This notification allows users running dairy and beef operations to record natural mating, but more importantly for AI breeding situations to accurately time artificial breeding and use the AM/PM rule to determine when the cow is most fer-

tile. This level of accuracy also allows the use of semen with higher genetic merit, with a greater chance of conception. Says Moocall, “Obviously, getting a cow back in calf during her first cycle will have a major effect on profitability that exceeds the capital cost of the equipment.” The system also helps identify cows that are repeating, and the number of times they repeat, so identifying cows with underlying problems that are not always obvious. The Moocall Breedmanger app also allows the user to determine which cows are cycling, in-heat, inseminated, or in-calf, generating more accurate calving dates and so leading to better planning. In larger herds it’s recommended to fit a collar to

one bull for 50 cows. Moocall Heat also helps identify bulls that are more active, or those under-performing, remembering that up to 20% of all bulls can be infertile or not performing to an optimal level. At the same time the system allows an easy switch between natural or AI mating, by collecting all data from the collars and updating the system automatically. Dairy News visited the Claxton family farm at Killeigh, Co. Offaly, during a visit to Ireland, seeing the system’s effectivness and ease of use. The family farms 52ha, running a main herd of 50 high genetic merit suckler cows plus 170 young stock, focusing on the Charolais or Simmental breeds, with a small

Moocall heat monitors cows for heat detection.

number of numbers of Hereford based crossbreeds. The farm produces high quality calves reared and sold for the quality beef market. Son Stephen, studying agricultural science at University College Dublin, discovered the system and introduced his father Desmond, a self-confessed technophobe, to monitoring the cows’ heat cycles. Stephen says the ability to detect cows coming on heat early and with high

accuracy has changed the way the business selects semen for artificial breeding. It now spends much more on premium genetics to improve the quality of the calves being born. In the next season, the farm will send away calves averaging 30kg heavier than this year’s crop. And he can now pick out cows previously thought to be good breeders which, by their size show all the signs of being in-calf when they are

actually empty; this allows early vet intervention or culling. Early heat notification will easily outweigh the cost of the system, and yield greater outputs from the same area, Stephen says. And the initial use of the Moocall calving monitor paid for itself by saving just one high-value calf. Father Des can use the system without calling for help from Stephen.


THE INNOVATION centre at the National Ploughing Champs in Ireland showed about six new ideas for farmers. Front and centre, and creating a great deal of interest, was the Supercrop1 from Acres Machinery, Roscommon. It’s a forage management tool that cleverly takes several proven concepts typically found on individual machines, but here combined in one unit that is truly a

multi-tasker. It should help a farmer achieve the best results with grass after it’s mown, with an emphasis on preserving nutrients in the crop be it silage or hay. Modular construction can allow it to rake, condition or spread and group, with the ‘base’ unit capable of the first two tasks. From the base specification users can add a tedder or a belt-type grouper system to the rear of the conditioning unit, allowing the machine to be configured by adding or removing elements to suit weather or



crop conditions. And the maker has also created an interactive website where intending customers can order and pay for their machine online, although units would still need to be demonstrated, installed and serviced by local dealers. To help with the manufacture and distribution of the product, Acres Machinery has partnered with Sitrex, Italy, a well-known manufacturer and distributor of grass machinery. @dairy_news

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Electric fence relocated from an armchair MARK DANIEL

IT’S NOT uncommon for farms to be

a family affair, but the Drumm family at Mullingar, Co Westmeath, Ireland, have taken this to new heights with their own agritech invention. Fed up with the chore of moving electric fences -- often in the rain and when they would have preferred to be at football training -- brothers Charlie and James set out to develop an easier way. Parents Thomas and Laura encouraged them, and the result is

Fresh Graze (patented), a device that takes the drudgery out of strip-grazing and helps improve crop utilisation. It won two awards in the recent National Ploughing Championships Innovation Awards -- the Agri-Tech Start Up Award and the Overall Startup Prizes. The system automates the movement of the ‘hot wire’ using a pair of robotic drive units at each end of a run, allowing grass to be allocated to a mob of animals on a continuous basis, at a rate that ensures the entire area is consumed before moving again. Three years have been spent on

Fed up with the chore of moving electric fences, two Irish brothers came up with an easier way.

development, and Thomas Drumm says it should be on sale within two years and their costs recouped in 18 24 months. In operation, the drive units run on a high-tensile steel wire along opposite boundaries, able to work in ‘breaks’ of up to 300m depending on undulations. The ‘hot wire’ is supported across the span by six-sided spider wheels, and the units are powered by 18V rechargeable batteries that last up to two days.

An integral GPS unit shows where the device is operating. It saves time and can be programmed to calculate the best timing for a move, using integral software preprogrammed with stocking rates and a measurement of grass cover. The system can be used to prevent selective grazing and contamination by stock meandering over the crop they should be consuming. This leads to better overall utilisation, better imple-

mentation of management decisions and the ability to supply data on where, when and how to whoever needs it. Live data can be delivered to the operator’s phone or tablet to show progress. Also, production data from the milking parlour can be compared to start and end covers to improve sward utilisation, and this can be monitored to see the effect on milk production or liveweight gains.

MAKING A LINE FOR THE SPORTLINE GIVEN THAT the Skoda Kodiaq scooped numerous awards in 2017 -including Car of the Year -- its pedigree is not in doubt. But the imminent arrival of the upmarket Sportline model had us salivating. First impressions didn’t disappoint. Its stunning metallic velvet red paint job, plenty of dark brooding recesses and a good dollop of chrome were finished off with sharp 20-inch alloy Vega wheels and wide low-profile Pirelli Scorpion tyres. Inside the feel of quality continues, with form fitting bucket seats normally found in much higher performance machines, tastefully upholstered with Alcantara fabric and finished with a swathe of suede. Ahead of the driver, an infotainment system dominates the centre console with multiple offerings such as Carplay and Android Auto, while sound is from a classy Canton music system with nine speakers. The Sportline engine in our test vehicle was a 4-cylinder 2.0L turbocharged petrol unit delivering 132kW and 320Nm torque, although buyers can take a 140kW/400Nm turbo diesel of the same capacity if they want to

pay an extra $5000. In this tester’s eyes, the petrol engine does the job fine, spinning up the rev range freely and eagerly, but importantly offering plenty of get-upand-go. The driveline has the DSG (twin-clutch) set-up controlling a 7-speed auto transmission, in turn, connecting to the on-demand AWD system. There’s a choice of engine performance ranges, from ECO to Sport, and the dynamic chassis control has settings for normal, mud, snow, off-road and individual; adaptive dampers and good ground clearance take all types of terrain in its stride. Out on the road, the gutsy performance means cross-country jaunts seem to happen quickly, with grippy tyres and the AWD function bolstering confidence. Low profile tyres are a bit of a ‘Marmite choice’ given that the driver confidence given by the tremendous grip is countered by a degree of harshness fed back to the occupants because of the lower tyre profile. Adaptive cruise control, lane departure monitoring and blind spot mirrors complement safety functions like 360degree cameras, park assist and parking sensors.

Promoted as a sevenseater, the Kodiaq certainly has lots of space, but the stuff you would typically take on a weekend jaunt in fact makes it a five-seater with luggage space; driver plus six might work on short jaunts or if you find a couple of leprechauns travelling light. The Sportline is cer-

tainly a lot of car, a lot of fun and wanting for nothing. The Skoda motto ‘Simply Clever’ is seen in, say, umbrellas hidden in door cavities, ice scrapers next to fuel fillers, bottle grips in the cup holders, and the clever automatic door edge protectors. Top off this list with DRl’s adaptive fog lights,

Skoda Kodiaq Sportline.

heated wing mirrors, heated seats and heated

steering wheel- then it looks like buying one

might be a simply clever choice. – Mark Daniel

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PRECISION AG JOHN DEERE IS rolling out new precision ag solutions and updated software usable on more brands of equipment while providing expanded applications. The new products include the 4240 Universal Display, AutoTrac Universal 300 guidance solution and updated 18-2 Gen 4 software. The new weatherresistant 4240 Universal Display adds to the Gen 4 display family as an affordable, portable and durable option for many types of farming operations. For farmers who want to do even more with their new display, section control and data sync with John Deere operations center can be added. The 4240 Universal Display, which replaces the GreenStar 2 1800, offers a user-friendly experience in an easy-toread, high-contrast 213mm touchscreen enclosed in a weather-resistant, IP65rated shell for ROPS tractors. Other features of the 4240 include video input and ethernet ports, ISOBUS compatibility, a multi-colour display screen and scalable functionality depending on customer preference. Some may choose to use the display as an implement-only display, while others may choose to expand display applications to include section control, variable rate applications, wireless data transfer, data sync with John  Deere operations center, and remote display

access with extra subscriptions. JD is also introducing AutoTrac Universal 300 for use on its own and other brands of machines not already AutoTrac, replacing the Universal 200. New features include easy, automatic setup; a smaller, more comfortable steering wheel; and a quieter steering motor in a weatherresistant housing. AutoTrac Universal 300 complements the new 4240 Universal Display for open-station tractors and other equipment, with set-up by simply pressing ‘start calibration’, drive a 100m and AutoTrac Universal 300 determines the correct settings for the equipment. John Deere has also updated software for its Gen 4 family of displays with the 18-2 software update bundle, allowing customers using any Gen 4 display with a v2 processor to access basic documentation at no charge, view multiple map layers at the same time, and use third-party rate controllers and receivers for extra documentation, mapping and data analysis. The 18-2 update allows operators to mark points of interest with flags in the field and then share that information between John Deere displays on other equipment via the operations center; to view as-applied rates alongside variety or yield maps; and it allows the 4640 Universal Display to work with a wider variety of equipment and applications.

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Liquid application saves time, cost MARK DANIEL

TOW AND Fert sprayer systems made by Metalform have been around for several years, growing in popularity with users who cite reduced costs and other benefits. Dairy News took a closer look at what makes the machine tick, seeing one operating on the 140ha farm Matthew Zonderop runs in a 50:50 partnership at Te Poi near Matamata, running a herd of 420 cross-bred dairy cows. Zonderop had seen a friend using a Tow and Fert with success, so he took the plunge three years ago, buying his own machine and “never looking back”. In essence it’s a heavyduty spraying rig with integral mixing and agitation. Zonderop’s Multi 1200 linkage-mounted machine has a 1200L moulded tank carried in a galvanised frame, pipework with extensive use of stainless steel, and attachment via snap-lok fittings. The design enables

Matamata farmer Matthew Zonderop.

dissolving and mixing urea, lime, gibberellic acid, weed sprays, trace elements, humates and seeds, using dairy effluent or water as the medium for application. Metalform says foliar application of nutrients leads to quicker uptake, reduced losses to the atmosphere and leaching, with the added benefit of allowing the user to combine several products

in a single mix to help reduce labour and operating costs. Zonderop lauded its versatility: the unit stays on the back of the tractor for nine months of the year and gets used for many tasks. He runs a grass-based system that typically sees paddocks being grown to 290 - 3100kg DM/ha prior and 1500kg DM/ha postgrazing. He moves the sprayer onto the paddocks about five days after grazing to apply sulphate of ammonia, Pro-Gib and, if required, Baton herbicide. “Application is uniform and up to 10m wide depending on wind conditions. “Interestingly, paddocks show a noticeable response within 4 - 5 days, probably two or three times quicker than conventional methods.” The application process sees 500kg of fertiliser dissolved and carried in a suspension of 900L of water; this takes about 15 minutes and agitation/ circulation continues as the unit moves to a job or around the farm. Zonderop believes the nature of the system, particularly the rapid uptake by plants, allows him to reduce application rates and save about 25% on conventional application methods. Operation is said to be easy with a built-in weighing system and a distinct

lack of electronics; the operator selects the nozzles and alter application rates to suit the job. Zonderop also uses his machine alot during spring to apply magnesium sulphate for herd health, normally as a blanket coverage that lasts for up to 90 days before grazing; this removes the daily one-hour chore of application by quad and spreader ahead of the herd. Likewise when applying zinc sulphate to prevent facial eczema, although he still uses a half dose in the water supply as an insurance policy. The machine can apply chicory seed in suspension and sometimes sows grass seed in rough areas. During the dry last season, when crops of turnips or chicory were being established, the Multi 1200 was used for irrigation, applying effluent diluted 50:50 with water. This was time-consuming, Zonderop agreed, but it proved to be a drought breaker. Similarly the unit is also used to ‘vacuum’ silt and algae from water troughs, rinse them with a high-pressure nozzle and then refill. Would you buy another? we asked him. Yes, he replies, probably trailed and with more capacity and able to traverse the farm’s undulating land more easily.

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Enter online or by post. Go to

Enter online or by post. Go to

Or fill in this form and post it to: Dairy News, Win a Suzuki Kingquad competition, PO Box 331-100, Auckland 0740

Q: What publication did you see this promotion in? Answer: .......................................................................................................................... Name: .............................................................................................................................. Address: ........................................................................................................................... ......................................................................................................................................... ...................................................................... Phone: ...................................................... Email: ............................................................................................................................... Terms and Conditions: Information on how to enter the competition forms part of these terms and conditions. Entry in to the Win a Suzuki Kingquad competition is deemed acceptance of these terms and conditions. Entry is open to all New Zealand residents except for employees of Rural News Group and their immediate family. Each entrant may enter more than once. To be valid, each entry must contain the correct answers as determined by the Rural News Group. The competition opens on Monday August 6, 2018 and closes Friday November 2, 2018 at 11pm. The prize winner will be drawn on Monday November 5, 2018 and will be contacted by phone and email by Wednesday November 7, 2018. The winner will be announced via email by Friday November 9, 2018.The promoter’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered in to. By accepting the prize, the prize winner consents to the promoter using his/her details, photographs and recording of the prize acceptance for promotional and media publicity purposes. There is one prize of a Suzuki Kingquad 500 XE ATV. The winner may be required to pick up their prize from their nearest Suzuki dealer. The prize is valued at $16,995. The prize is not transferable or redeemable for cash. All insurance and any on-road costs are at the winner’s expense. All entries become the property of the promoter. The promoter is Rural News Group, First Floor, Bayleys Building, 29 Northcroft St, Takapuna, Auckland 0622

Performance everyone can look up to.

Calves grow up strong and healthy on Ancalf™ Now is the time to optimise growth and prepare your calves for future production. With added vitamins, minerals and supplements Ancalf is made right here in New Zealand to Fonterra’s stringent standards. So you know what it says on the bag, is in the bag. Guaranteed to curd, Ancalf is a precise blend of casein dairy protein with the nutrients calves need for growth and performance. It also contains Actigen to assist digestion, and a coccidiostat to prevent coccidiosis. Secure your supply today and see why things are looking up for so many farmers. Call 0800 809 0111 or visit

Dairy News 16 October 2018  

Dairy News 16 October 2018

Dairy News 16 October 2018  

Dairy News 16 October 2018