Page 1

Key shareholder to abstain on Westland vote. PAGE 6


Abbey’s top brass at Fieldays PAGE 33

JUNE 25, 2019 ISSUE 425 //

LET’S TALK Getting farmers and banks to the table with a mediator will be highly beneficial. – Richard McIntyre, Federated Farmers PAGE 3

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NEWS  // 3

Debt mediation bill long overdue – Feds PETER BURKE

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reaction of the chair of Federated Farmers sharemilkers section to the government’s plan to introduce the Farm Debt Mediation Bill. The objectives of the bill are: to support farmers in financial distress in their dealings with secured creditors, in particular banks; to enable options to be explored for turning around a failing farm business; or at last resort to enable a farmer with an non-viable business to ‘exit with dignity’. The scheme applies to all farm businesses solely or principally engaged in agriculture including sharemilking, horticulture and aquaculture, but not to lifestyle farms or forestry. Richard McIntyre told Dairy News that Federated Farmers recent banking survey showed more farmers coming under pressure from banks. So having a mediation step prior to possible receivership would reduce stress on farmers. “Talking is underrated as a way to getting a solution. But getting both parties to the table with a mediator to talk through the process is hugely beneficial. Hopefully this will result in a more productive outcome.” McIntyre says a big stress in these situations is fear of the unknown, so if a pathway can be plotted and expectations made clear it’s got to be good. Even if a farm has to be sold

Key points ■■

The Bill applies to all secured creditors, both banks and secondary lenders, and has broad support from all the major New Zealand banks


The estimated cost to set up the scheme is $350,000, and the estimated annual cost for administering it is $250,000 to $300,000


Each mediation will cost about $6000 and be split between the lender and the farmer


Farmers and creditors have up to 60 working days to complete the mediation, once started


The independent mediators will have strong understanding and experience of the rural sector


At the end of the mediation process an agreement will be produced and must be agreed to by both sides and is binding.

in the end, farmers will value the chance to discuss the options. He says sharemilkers, especially lower order sharemilkers and contract milkers, feel particularly vulnerable when their incomes are affected by things beyond their control such as Mycoplasma bovis and bad weather. “They usually have very low equity relative to their loan and so they are reasonably high risk to the bank.” McIntyre says he knows of a case where a bank with little or no warning came down hard on a sharemilker. People in banks sometimes don’t know the implications of their

Richard McIntyre

decisions, especially if they are made very late in a season when people are about to change farms, he says. The Bill meets a need for good two way communication, McIntyre says. And although Labour introduced it, credit is due to NZ First which has promoted this idea for several years. Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor also praises NZ First, in particular Mark Patterson who some

time ago introduced a private members Bill on this issue. “Mr Patterson has been a strong advocate for farmers and should be congratulated for his initial Bill. It has since been reworked and reintroduced as a coalition government piece of legislation.” O’Connor says the failure of a farm business can lead to the farmer and their family losing both their business and their home.


4 //  NEWS

Farmers must succeed - bankers PAM TIPA

THE NEW Zealand Bank-

ers’ Association has welcomed the news that the government will introduce a Bill to parliament to set up a farm debt mediation scheme. “Banks are responsible lenders that take a longterm view of the rural sector,” says NZ Bankers’ Association deputy chief executive Antony BuickConstable. “They know the vital role farmers play in the economy and that it’s important they succeed. “Rural bank managers work closely with farmers facing financial challenges on a case-by-case basis to see how they can work together through any issues. This was the situation during the last dairy downturn and the current Mycoplasma bovis outbreak. “The industry supports farm debt media-

tion to provide clarity and another option for farmers. “Last year NZBA began developing an industry-led farm debt mediation scheme but it was overtaken by the government’s proposed initia-

“Farmers are especially vulnerable to business down-turns as a result of conditions often outside their control -weather, market price volatility, pests and diseases like Mycoplasma bovis. Farmers are also

“There is no substitute for good communication.” tive, which we support in principle. “We look forward to seeing the bill and to getting a mediation scheme in place.” Federated Farmers says the proposed legislation will require creditors to offer mediation to farmers who default on payments before they take enforcement action and it will allow farmers to initiate mediation. “Federated Farmers is in favour of this,” says Feds vice-president and commerce spokesperson Andrew Hoggard.

facing a raft of policy changes including freshwater management and climate change, and these could apply even more pressure.” The agricultural sector has nearly $63 billion of debt and the Federated Farmers six-monthly banking surveys have shown that while most farmers are satisfied with their banks, satisfaction has been slipping and the number feeling under pressure has been rising. “There is no substitute for good communication and we urge farmers



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Andrew Hoggard says farmers and banks must keep in close touch.

and their banks to keep in close touch and build positive relationships in good times and bad, with or without farm debt mediation,” Hoggard says. Rural Women New Zealand (RWNZ) national president Fiona Gower says rural communities are adversely affected by the imbalance of power between banks and farmers. This bill will hopefully establish a standard process that will bring clar-

ity and ensure farmers are treated fairly by financial institutions, she says. “Financial control is not black-and-white for farmers due to circumstances beyond their control. [Given] this complexity, creating a standalone bill for farmers will provide fair treatment to all involved.” Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says the Farm Debt Mediation Bill, approved by Cabi-

net last week, will require creditors to offer farmers who default on payments mediation before they take any enforcement action. “Total farm debt in NZ is $62.8 billion – up 270% on 20 years ago. Farmers are especially vulnerable to business downturns,’’ says O’Connor. “The Bill is pragmatic. The guts of it is early intervention – where either the farmer

or the bank have an ability to go and seek mediation, which is a far better option than forced foreclosure,” he says. O’Connor says he would encourage farmers and lenders to have their say on the bill during the select committee stage. The scheme will apply to all secured lenders, including non-bank lenders. @dairy_news


Tim Mackle says the Bill will mean a lot to farmers feeling financial pressure. He says the Bill, if passed into law, will require a secured creditor who lends money to a farmer to offer mediation if the farmer defaults on payments. Only then may the lender take enforcement action.

“For many, the farm is more than just a business. It’s a home, a lifestyle or an asset to be passed down to the next generation. That brings unique pressures. This Bill acknowledges that and will provide support for farmers in financial distress in their dealings with secured creditors, allowing for the fair, equitable and timely resolution of farm debt issues.”

Mackle says sometimes a farmer’s business can also be thrown off-kilter by an event entirely out of their control -- drought, flood, volatile international markets or a biosecurity incursion. “This legislation will help support farmers managing such volatility,” he says. @dairy_news

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NEWS  // 5

$7 payout still on the cards PAM TIPA

ECONOMISTS ARE still sticking to a 2019/20 season forecast of around $7/kgMS despite the 3.8% drop in the Global Dairy Trade overall price index last week. This followed a 3.4% drop in the previously GDT event. BNZ senior economist Doug Steel says despite the drop, prices are not low and still up 13.4% on the year to date. However the decline reinforces the bank’s main message of caution for the season ahead. “We think prices have a bit further to fall, given slowing world growth and caution is warranted given the global uncertainties prevailing. That said, generally subdued global milk supply should offer some price support.” The bank’s “relatively conservative” $6.70/kgMS milk price forecast for 2019/20 builds in whole milk powder (WMP) prices easing to just under $2,900/T (average price US$3,006/MT at last week’s event) and an effective NZD/USD rate in the mid-to-high 60s. “If current prices and currency levels were to persist for the full season ahead, a milk price of $7 or a touch over would likely result.” ANZ rural economist Susan Kilsby says the fall aligned with expectations. “With the extra milk from the 2018-19 season now through the market, and milk supply past its seasonal peak in the Northern Hemi-

sphere, the recent downward slide in prices should be relatively shortlived.” Last week Fonterra added extra volume to the event in the nearby delivery months, which combined with slightly softer recent Asian demand, says Kilsby. That resulted in prices falling for virtually all products offered (except casein). It is not unusual to see prices retreat at this time of the season, she says. New Zealand starts selling larger quantities of next season’s product and buyers are typically well stocked due to extra supply from their domestic production or other Northern Hemisphere suppliers. “NZ is now the cheapest source of milkfat and milk powders so this should help improve demand from buyers who have a choice of supply regions.” Westpac senior economist Satish Ranchhod says WMP prices fell 4.3% to $3,006/tonne. That’s their sixth decline in as many auctions. “It’s still early in the season, but with a run of price declines in recent weeks there is downside risk to our forecast for a $7.20/kg farmgate milk price for the 2019/20 season (vs Fonterra’s forecast range of $6.25 to $7.25). “Looking to the remainder of the season, the outlook for auction prices is mixed. The USDA has recently reported cuts in its forecasts for production in both 2019 and 2020 citing reductions in cow numbers, falling production per animal and rising costs. However, slowing economic conditions in some of our key

trading partner economies, including China and some European countries, signal headwinds for prices.” ASB senior economist, wealthy, Chris Tennent-Brown, says WMP prices were disappointing, falling 4.3%. “This was a touch more than our own expectations for a circa 3% decline. We take the view that WMP prices are consolidating as the market awaits the usual lift in spring milk volumes. “And speaking of volumes, this was the largest auction since midFebruary, so that may have contributed to the sogginess of this auction.” Despite the dip, there is enough fat in ASB’s forecast to stick with $7/ kgMS milk price forecast for 2019/20, he says. “And with NZ production growth past its cyclical peak, and soft production growth for other major dairy exporters, we anticipate that dairy prices can push towards cyclical highs later in the season.” “In this vein, the spring period will be important. If we are right that domestic production is soft this year compared to 2018, dairy buyers are likely to be caught short given many buyers appear to be currently living hand-to-mouth. “We continue to hold our bullish 2019/20 milk price forecast of $7.00/ kg. However, we again highlight that it is very early days for the 2019/20 season. Accordingly, our forecasts at this time of the season always come with a very wide range of error. Last night’s auction once again highlights the volatility inherent in dairy market,” says Tennent-Brown.

Susan Kilsby, ANZ.

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6 //  NEWS

Key Westland shareholder to abstain on takeover vote NIGEL MALTHUS


Pastures, Westland Milk Products’ largest shareholder and milk supplier, says it will abstain from voting on the proposed takeover offer by Chinese giant Yili. Yili’s offer of $588 million, or $3.41 a share, would return the average Westland farmer around $480,000. Although supported by the Westland board, it will need the support of 50% of all eligible voters, and 75% of votes cast, at a closed meeting of shareholders in Greymouth on July 4.

Southern Pastures says it will abstain because it wants to allow greater weight to votes from West Coast shareholders whose livelihoods will be impacted by any deal. Prem Maan, executive chairman of Southern Pastures, said the decision was the result of careful deliberation. “Our Westland supplying farms are situated in Canterbury, and as such we are in the fortunate position of having options for who we supply. “Many of our fellow shareholders in Westland aren’t so well placed. So, we believe we have a moral obligation to leave the critical decision on whether the offer

should be accepted or not to those Westland shareholders on the West Coast who have, and will have, no other supply options.” Maan said Southern Pastures felt that Yili had made a fair offer and Southern Pastures would consider working with Yili if they were successful. “We will, however, be sad to see the demise of the cooperative if that were to happen. We are strongly committed to the co-operative model and, in fact, joined Westland and formed our joint venture, New Zealand Grass Fed Milk Products LP, with it because it was a farmer owned co-operative.” Southern Pastures

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Prem Maan, Southern Pastures chairman.

BOARD DEFENDS BONUS OFFERS WESTLAND BOARD chairman Pete Morrison is defending bonus payments to chief executive Toni Brendish and other top executives, which have been criticised as a conflict of interest. Brendish is reportedly in for $680,000, and others would get amounts of up to $360,000 if the deal goes through. In a statement, Morrison said the retention and incentive payments were put in place to cover the whole of Project Horizon – the 12-month process which sought investment partners for Westland and which eventually came up with the Yili deal. Morrison said the payments only relate to senior executives. No incentives were offered to board

members. He said a driving goal was retaining key personnel through a process that could result in significant change. It recognised the significant additional work required of them by the project, and it protected shareholder value. “If senior executives left during the process it would have presented a picture of instability and that would have undermined possible interest and proposals. It is important to note this is a normal course of action for such programmes.” Morrison acknowledged that the information should have been included in the Scheme Booklet but that oversight was corrected immediately after it was identified.

says butter produced by that joint venture is currently a finalist in the Best Butter/Dairy Spread category in this year’s World Dairy Innovation Awards. Owned primarily by European ethical pension fund investors, Southern Pastures is the largest institutional farming fund in New Zealand. It also owns 50% of Lewis Road Creamery. Its nine Canterbury farms produce more than 4 million kgMS/year and have supplied Westland since the start of the 2018/19 season. @dairy_news

Land dispute heads to top court SYNLAIT’S ARGUMENT with

a neighbouring landowner over its Pokeno nutritional powder factory looks like heading to the country’s highest court. Synlait announced on June 7 that it had filed an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court in relation to the removal of land covenants. In a statement to the NZX, Synlait chief executive, Leon Clement said: “This is really just the next step in the process as we continue to prog-

ress all our options.” “We are also still in continued conversations with all parties and we remain confident of a positive outcome.” Synlait reiterated that the plans for the Pokeno site haven’t changed. “We will continue to work towards the existing project timetable including the build, commissioning and production,” said Clement. “We remain committed to Pokeno as well as our shareholders and other

stakeholders in Pokeno such as our farmers, suppliers and staff.” In February 2018 Canterburybased Synlait announced the conditional purchase of 28ha of land in Pokeno to establish its second nutritional powder manufacturing site. The land was subject to covenants limiting its use to grazing, lifestyle farming or forestry, but Synlait was confident they were no longer relevant due to the land having been rezoned industrial.

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NEWS  // 7

Positive feedback to Fonterra’s fixed milk price scheme NIGEL MALTHUS


there has been really positive feedback to the inaugural June round of a new Fixed Milk Price scheme designed to give farmers more certainty around their income. The first event attracted 215 farms, offering over 11 million kgMS to the co-op for $6.75/ kgMS. “While most farms can operate in a volatile market, some farmers – maybe young or near retirement – can’t or aren’t willing to take on as much risk,” said Fonterra’s Group Director of Farm Source Richard Allen. “Without a way to reduce their risk, these farmers may not enter

these help only the large dairy or may choose to farms, but as this event leave the industry. If the showed, that’s clearly not co-op can help them the case.” reduce their exposure Fonterra expects to and stay in the cooperahold up to 10 tive, with no Fixed Milk downside risk Price events to other co-op per year and members, it’s a offer up to 5% win-win.” of its total New Allen urged Zealand milk those farmers production. on the fence to Richard Allen Fonterra have a closer says the service fee paid look at Fixed Milk Price. for by participants covers Says strong particithe administration of the pation showed farmers programme and the coopappreciate having a tool that can help reduce their erative will have greater certainty on margins by risk to milk price volalocking in fixed contract tility. There was strong inter- prices with its customers. “This means that even est shown from smaller if the milk price drops, we farms; over 60% being will continue to receive smaller farms producing the fixed price for these less than 200,000kgMS products, which supports per season. the Fixed Milk Price and “There’s a perception ensures there is no risk to out there that tools like

the co-op,” Fonterra says. Allen said the Guaranteed Milk Price scheme of a few years ago was withdrawn because it was not market-led, only offered twice a year, and hard for farmers to know if they should take it up. The new scheme was much more dynamic, agile and directly in response to farmer feedback. The scheme revolves around the first GDT event of the month, so the next offering would follow the July 3 auction. Fonterra will take a simple average of the NZX milk futures settlement price across July 3, 4 and 5, then on Saturday July 6 announce the price and how much volume will be available. Applications will then be open from 8am Monday July 8 to 7pm Tuesday.

HEDGE A POSITION OR TAKE THE RISK SOUTHLAND FARMER Paul Marshall is one who took up the June offer. Marshall, who farms about 1350 cows on the family’s 600ha near Tuatapere, told Dairy News he was “not an expert nor an advocate” for any particular fixed milk price programme but had used the original GMP scheme, as well as

the NZX futures market and a Rabobank milk swap scheme. The alternative to using a fixed price scheme was akin to “standing naked in the market,” he said. “You either choose to hedge a position or you take the risk that the market will move against you.” However, risk mitigation was

That would give farmers time to digest the numbers and figure out if it is right for their business, said Allen. “In June we released 15 million kilos up for offer and had applications for just over 11 million.”

“For a first event we were really pleased with that uptake. I think that as the awareness of that product grows and people become more comfortable we will probably see participation grow with it.” “This is just another

way in which the coop’s realising it’s getting harder out there to farm, and it’s using its power and scale and its access to markets to do what it can to make farming a little bit easier for our farmers,” Allen said.

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never free. The Fonterra scheme had a built-in cost of 10c/kgMS, and Rabobank about 8c/kg, but both had the value of simplicity. NZX futures had a lot of flexibility and a lot of different products and worked out about 3-4c/kg but was complicated and needed “a degree of financial competence” to operate, said Marshall.

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NEWS  // 9

M.bovis doesn’t get worse than this NIGEL MALTHUS

THE CHAIR of the Mycoplasma bovis strategic advisory group, MPI’s chief science adviser Dr John Roche, says he wouldn’t wish the disease on his worst enemy. Roche has personal experience of M. bovis from a time when he was helping set up New Zealand-style dairy farms in the US with US partners. They gathered herds of cows into a seasonal calving system, effectively pooling the different herds’ diseases, and were then struck with flooding. “So the physical stresses, along with the reduction in the immune system at calving, as well as mixing all these diseases, was the perfect storm.” The result was “incred-

PATHWAY TO NEW TEST AS ONE example of a potential pathway to a new test, John Roche said he had worked with a PhD student looking at how tissues in the body gave off nanoparticles which travelled through the blood, effectively acting as messengers telling other tissues “how they’re feeling”. Such particles are now being looked at in human cancer research. The student had

ibly infectious” mastitis and high mortality in “incredibly sick” calves who caught the disease through the milk. Roche said that three weeks into calving they had to cull a fifth of the herd and then step into long-term management with regular testing and regular culling to keep on top of the disease.

shown them associated with liver stress in cows. The third testing possibility MPI is looking at is to improve testing of imported germplasm to help prevent reinfection. “It’s a really low risk pathway but we want to close down as many potential loopholes as possible,” said Roche. Proposals will be evaluated by an evaluation panel, who will

“People say you can manage the disease. Generally the people who say that haven’t dealt with it in a seasonal calving system and don’t really understand the peculiarities of the NZ system.” Roche said something he loves about NZ is how a young person “almost without a penny to their name but with the smarts

make recommendations to the M. bovis governance board for approval of funding. Contract negotiations will then follow. Roche said any improvements to current methodology could hopefully be adopted within the next 12 months, but “some of the gems that will help us finally eradicate the disease, they’re probably three or four years in the making”.

and a hard work ethic” can become an asset multimillionaire in 10 to 15 years. That was a New Zealand icon and hallmark of our system. “That would all have to cease if we went to long-term management. It would be too difficult to manage the biosecurity implications. “I think the [agricul-

ture] minister and Prime Minster and the industry partners made a very brave decision to eradicate but I’m certainly 100% behind it.” MPI, with DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ, has called for proposals from scientists in NZ and elsewhere to research new diagnostics as outlined in the Mycoplasma bovis sci-

John Roche

ence plan. Speaking shortly before the deadline for proposal submission, Roche was unable to say how many had been received. But at least 72 organisations had downloaded the documents “which gives us great confidence that there’s a lot of people internationally and domestically very interested”. He recently spoke with a couple of groups with “really good” ideas on ways to improve testing for the disease. Roche said MPI is

looking in three main areas, the first being improving current testing. “[Many] people talking in the media and elsewhere say our tests aren’t good tests. They are, but are dealing with a very challenging bacteria,” he said. But there are probably ways to improve sampling or extraction methods or laboratory methodology. Secondly, MPI is hoping for new and more sensitive tests to detect the bacteria before it begins shedding in an infected animal.


10 //  NEWS

Mentor-led project gaining ground PAM TIPA


farmer to farmer learning

programme Extension 350 is attracting nationwide attention. Project Lead Luke Beehre of Northland Inc says has just recently

met with a Tatua director who is looking at how they could apply a similar model to their dairy cooperative. He has also had inter-

est from Hawkes Bay Regional Council and even an Auckland based general practice provider with 170 medical centres looking at the model

of peer to peer learning. Beehre says that is just some of the discussions he has had just in the last couple of months. Some of their part-

Luke Beehre.

ner organisations like the Ministry for Primary Industries are also looking at what they can do with that extension sphere. The idea for Extension 350 (E350) originated out of Northland from discussions at field days and partner farms. Farmer led and farmer focused, E350 kicked off in 2016 and is approaching half way. The intention is to get a total of 350 farmers involved across Northland over a five-year programme. The initiative aims to assist farmers in achieving their goals and objectives by having open, honest and frank discussions with their peers alongside input from a farm advisor and wider project and industry support. The project, part of the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Plan, is supported by Northland Inc, Ministry for Primary Industries, Northland Regional Council, DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb NZ. Taking stock of the progress so far, Beehre highlighted the overall positive impact this uniquely Northland extension programme is having. “There are just under 300 farmers involved in the region now and we’re starting to see signs of an increase in profitability, improving environmental sustainability and improving farmer wellbeing –

the three main planks of E350. “But it is not just about profitability; to achieve farming success, you also have to focus on creating a sustainable environment and a healthier farming community, and that is certainly happening.” E350 aims to have 10 clusters each having five target farmers, 5-10 mentors and then about five associates. Seven of those clusters are dairy farms. Currently they have 33 dairy target farmers and 40-50 mentor dairy farmers as some target farmers have two mentors. There are also about 100 associates. There are more opportunities to be associate farmers. They “share the journey” that the target farmers are on and also have the opportunity to share back about what they are doing. About 44 farmers turned out to a dairy field day at Awanui last week (June 17) and about 33 of those were dairy farmers. Very positive feedback is being received from the farmers. “When you’re focused on the day-to-day running of your farming business, it can be hard to see the bigger picture, the other approaches, but E350 helps farmers by enabling them to look at their businesses through a fresh pair of eyes,” Beehre says.

CORRECTION IN DAIRY News May 14 issue, Greg McNamara, chairman Australian dairy co-op Norco was quoted as saying that Australia’s love for fresh milk was restricting growth of the industry. In fact, McNamara did not say or mean this. The error is regretted.

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NEWS  // 11

$25m to improve national herd PAM TIPA


tomers or consumers want from the animals producing their products is one of the driving forces behind the new $25.68 million innovative programme for the dairy industry, says Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC) chief scientist Richard Spelman. “They want to have confidence that the animals that are generating the milk products have good animal health and the well-being of those animals is at the level required. That is really important for the sustainability of our industries,” Spelman told Dairy News. The multi-million dollar seven year programme announced at the Fieldays will drive improvements in the health and wellbeing of the national dairy herd and a step-change in sustainable milk production. Called Resilient Dairy: Innovative Breeding for a Sustainable Future, LIC is leading the programme with investment and support from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and DairyNZ.  It will invest in new disease management technologies and advancements in genomic science

to improve cow productivity, and produce better cows with improved health, wellbeing and environmental resilience. “Three things come into that,” Spelman explains. “One is developing new tests to firstly allow the farmer to know the disease status or the health status of their animals.” They can use those tests and they can be provided directly to the processor which can then give proof to the consumer that our animals are monitored and the facts behind that. “That data can then also come into LIC where we have the ability to combine that with our breeding programme. So as well as giving the farmer a diagnostic test, we can also start breeding for those traits of interest for the farmers. “It gives the ability to validate what consumers want but also enhance that genetically for the future. “That is one very strong component of the programme.” A lot of the work on genetic gain is based on genomic evaluations. Cur-

rently LIC and CRV operate those outside of a national framework. “So we have a piece of work with DairyNZ as well on how to bring genomic evaluation to a national level. But what

we are trying to test first is ensuring that the two companies that have invested heavily into these programmes can retain the intellectual property that they have generated or invested in but give farmers a more independent view of genomic evaluations. “That is the second real component of where we are heading. This is new work but builds off the capability that they have developed. “Over the last 5 or 10 years we have used a lot

The programme will drive improvements in the health and well being of the national dairy herd. Inset: Richard Spelman, LIC.

of genomic technology within our business. We have worked out how to deal with DNA sequence technology. The cost has decreased incredibly. It cost $50million to sequence an animal 10 years ago and now it costs about $1000. “We are now starting to look at how we can use that DNA technology in a diagnostic setting so it is transferring knowledge into quite a different area rather than just our breeding scheme.” Spelman says if you look back 20 years ago we were breeding pretty much primarily for milk

production. The breeding work at the time was focused around fat, protein and volume with a bit of liveweight. “Where we are today breeding worth has a lot of other traits of interest in there, and the emphasis on milk production is actually less than 50%. “If we look ahead 10 years I will expect that will further change and we will see further or traits added to breeding worth which will not be production but they will be around animal health, they will be around survivability of animals. And it will be about the wellbeing and environmental aspects. “So this research is getting some of the

groundwork in place for the new traits of interest that will come into BW in the next five or 10 years. “Our consumers are expecting not just a dairy product – it is a dairy product they will expect comes from a reputable source and that is really important for our industry to be sustainable in the future.”

Spelman says pockets of similar work are occurring overseas. “The Europeans for whatever reasons seem to be more exposed to the consumer voice so they are researching in these areas as well. “We have kind of followed Europe in the past and with this one here we are the same as well.”

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new ways of collecting and identifying information the farmers will start seeing some of the impact. A climate change aspect is not included in this particular programme. “We are doing climate change work outside of this. Those outcomes that we generate will be integrated

with this programme. “At the moment the big environmental things are carbon and nitrogen. We will be addressing greenhouse gases outside of this programme. But with time if we identify phenotypes, measurements that we can utilise we will bring those into this

programme and develop diagnostic tests for them. But they are more exploratory pieces of work that will occur outside (of the programme).” Over the life of the programme, LIC is investing $11.2m, MPI is investing $10.3m and DairyNZ is investing $4.2m.

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12 //  NEWS

Watch out for golden straws MARK DANIEL

FIVE GOLD coloured

semen straws each rep-

resenting a $2000 cash prize will entice farmers during the artificial breeding season. CRV Ambreed in August and September

will slip the straws into its stocks of AB products, says marketing manager Katrina Evans. This Golden Straw promotion is part of the

company’s 50th anniversary of business in New Zealand. The company lays claims to several first during its 50 years here:

Visiting CRV Global chief executive Roald van Noortfrom (right) with CRV Ambreed managing director Angus Haslett and marketing manager Katrina Evans at the Fieldays.


OSPRI’s TBfree programme has made significant progress with reducing TB infected herds throughout the country. At its peak in the 1990s there were over 1700 infected herds. Today there are fewer than 30. It’s the investment and hard work of New Zealand farmers like Chris that keeps us on track to eradicate TB from cattle and deer by 2026.

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TBfree is an OSPRI programme

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cross-bred genetics in the 1990s, facial eczema tolerant sires with AgResearch in 2014 and in 2017, and LowN Sires to enable a reduction of nitrate leaching caused by the concentration of N in cattle urine. It launched sexed

AgResearch and Fonterra, and may lead to the creation of industry breeding values for nitrogen excretion. Said Haslett, “CRV has for years invested in helping farmers create herds that are productive and environmentally

“CRV has for years invested in helping farmers create herds that are productive and environmentally sustainable, for example its health and efficiency indexes.” semen in NZ 10 years ago and has since followed the technology, said to help improve animal welfare. At the recent National Fieldays, the chief executive of CRV Global, Roald van Noortfrom, visiting from the Netherlands, gave Dairy News insights into where the company is heading. On the 2018 acquisition of the start-up semen sorting company Engender, at Auckland University, van Noort said “it’s great to invest in NZ, with a company that has a NZ presence, and in doing so commit to develop even better technologies in the field of semen sorting”. He said that data will play a crucial part in R&D, looking at feed intake in real time, the measurement of nutrient content of excreta and understanding more about methane production. Data analysis will lead to choosing sires with desirable genomes, good for sustainability and the environment. CRV Ambreed managing director Angus Haslett said the company spends at least 20% of revenue on R&D to keep up in genetic technology. This will contribute to the LowN programme underway with DairyNZ,

sustainable, for example its health and efficiency indexes”. “CRV is confident some of the extended global research will directly benefit the NZ dairy industry.” Roald van Noort visits the southern hemisphere two-three times annually. He said internationally the dairy industry’s consumers of its “white gold” are much more aware of environmental problems caused by modern farming. The resulting drive to sustainability will require a lot of spending. “Farmers in the Netherlands are rewarded for sustainable practices that have minimal impact on the environment. Farmers who focus on such matters receive increased payouts via their milk company who in return gain higher prices from their retailers. “These retailers can sell at an increased price to consumers who are happy to pay a premium for such actions knowing they in turn are helping the environment.” It’s encouraging to see signs of this developing in NZ and CRV wants a part in this, Haslett said. @dairy_news





A common sense law

MILKING IT... Shaky vote THE UPCOMING vote on Westland Milk’s sale is getting interesting as the big day approaches next week. On July 4 Westland supplier shareholders meet to vote on Yili’s offer of $3.41/share. The co-op’s largest shareholder, Southern pastures is abstaining from the vote. Stateowned farmer PAMU, also a Westland supplier, hasn’t made up its mind yet on how it will vote. Also reports of a big bonus to executives should the Yili deal go through is causing concern among some shareholders. What seemed like a straight forward vote a couple of months ago is now looking slightly shaky.

Give up movies!

From two to 19m

FILM MAKER James Cameron’s advice to New Zealanders hasn’t gone down well. In a TV interview he urges New Zealanders to give up dairy and meat and claims the country isn’t living up to its clean green image. Well, twitter users let him know how they felt. Radio personality Sean Plunket tweeted: “Hey James Cameron, give up making movies”. Another twitter user simply said: “Let’s send him packing”. Cameron owns more than 1500 hectares of rural Wairarapa land, where he is living with his wife Suzy while shooting the next films in his Avatar franchise.

HERE’S AN interesting take on the composition of US dairy cows. There are over nine million dairy cows in the US, and the vast majority of them are Holsteins, large bovines with distinctive black-and-white (sometimes red-andwhite) markings. The amount of milk they produce is astonishing. So is their lineage. Media reports says when researchers at the Pennsylvania State University looked closely at the male lines a few years ago, they discovered more than 99% of them can be traced back to one of two bulls, both born in the 1960s. That means among all the male Holsteins in the country, there are just two Y chromosomes.

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Moosical cows KIWI COWS are rock chicks, so a poll of dairy farmers around the country reveals. The NZ Herald reports that dairy farmers have played music at milking time for generations — in fact ever since the days when cows were hand milked in rough lean-to sheds. To learn what is in vogue these days in the rotary and herringbone, and even robotic, milking platforms, DairyNZ teamed with a radio show to canvas farmers and their staff about what is on their playlists. While rock music won out, with a lot of farmers saying they have a good sing-along as they milk, country and pop genres tied for a close second with one farmer pointing out country is tops because ‘country’s where the cows feel at home’. Another farmer confides her cows are Mamma Mia fans, and seem especially happy when she sings along too. Classical music registers as well with several farmers remarking it has a calming yet uplifting effect.

RICHARD MCINTYRE, head of Federated Farmers sharemilkers section, was right on the money when he described plans to introduce the Farm Debt Mediation Bill as long overdue. He was equally spot on when he stated that talking was underrated, meaning that communication was a much talked about but seldom used tool. This bill is in many ways legislating for common sense. There really should be no need for it because if the banks and farmers had issues they should own up to them and start a dialogue when the problem is small, not when it has escalated to a crisis. The bill in some ways is a sad commentary on today’s society that lawmakers should have to step in and make people act ‘normally’. Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor is also right when says the bill is pragmatic and that it will hopefully lead to better outcomes for everyone and dampen down the stress that occurs when farmers get caught in a difficult financial situation. In recent times it would appear that the banks have made a point of standing by farmers when things beyond their control such as adverse events or low pay outs strike. But there are also occasions when banks have acted insensitively and communicated poorly to their farmer clients. The total debt in the dairy industry is frightening and there is no doubt that some farmers are living on the financial edge, but then one has to ask why banks lent them the money in the first place. Was there real due diligence? All this aside, the new legislation sets in place a process that will put the various parties around the table to air their respective views. Whether this will resolve the particular problem is up to individuals, but at least farmers will have an opportunity to formally put their case to an independent mediator. In the past farmers have rightly felt they are at the mercy and whim of the banks and were probably too stressed to take the matter further. Now they have an option enshrined in law which allows them to initiate a dialogue. Why there wasn’t support years ago for NZ First’s attempt to get a similar law past beggars belief. But thank heavens that at last common sense has prevailed and a pragmatic common sense piece of legislation will go on the statute books.

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OPINION  // 15

Feed pads worth their weight in concrete IAN WILLIAMS

PIONEER AT Fieldays promoted the use of an app we had developed looking at the profitability of building feed pads. The app was developed in response to requests from farmers wanting to build feed pads but not knowing whether it was worth doing or not. Three things have fuelled the growing interest in feed pads: Firstly, over the last few seasons many regions have experienced very wet winters and difficulty preventing pugging. Secondly, with rising concern about Mycoplasma bovis, farmers have become focused on biosecurity. This is prompting them to explore ways to either keep cows at home or on the runoff rather than sending them off farm to be grazed by someone else. Thirdly, increasing pressure from central and local government is causing some farmers to change how they deal with effluent and nitrogen loss. While the need to maintain or increase profit by optimising pasture harvest is behind the first reason for building a feed pad, the second and third reasons are concerned with meeting compliance expectations and de-risking the farm system. Whether it is profitable or not to build a feed pad depends on the farm and its system. As a general rule, higher stocked farms feeding more supplementary feed on soils likely to pug when wet usually achieve the highest returns from a pad. It’s obvious why. More cows per hectare mean more hooves per hectare and so greater risk of pasture being damaged by treading/pugging if the

soil gets wet. The same argument is made for wetter farms: these are more likely than drier farms to see pasture damage through pugging. Likewise, the more feed being fed the greater the chance of feed wastage. All three factors have a big effect on the profitability of the system. Two scenarios Reduce pasture damage. Take a 100ha, 300 cow farm growing 14tDM/ha/yr. Also assume 30% is at risk of being seriously pugged in spring. Research has shown pugging can cause up to a 40% loss in pasture production the following season. So on this farm the risk of pasture loss from a pugging event would equate to 168tDM (30ha X 14tDM X 40% loss). At 30c/kgDM to replace this feed, the farmer is looking at about $50,000 of feed. Assume also that it cost the farmer $1000/ cow to build the feed pad. At 6% interest the capital servicing cost is about $18,000. Other costs arise too, but $18,000 to protect against the risk of losing $50,000 seems a good investment. Reduce feed wastage If we assume the 300 cow farm is feeding 1tDM/cow in supplementary feed fed out on the paddock, losses could be as high as 40% or 120tDM. Losses also occur on a feed pad: let’s assume about 15% or about 45tDM. At a feed price of 30c/kgDM, the saving of having a feed pad amounts to about $22,500/yr. From the example above, the interest cost of a feed pad is $18,000, so if the aim was solely to reduce feed wastage then putting in a feed pad and allowing for some extra costs is a break-even scenario at worst. Add in reduced risks from above, then it is a no-brainer.

One final comment: we often hear a farmer say, e.g. “A feedpad enables me to sleep easy on a shitty rainy night knowing the cows aren’t ruining the pasture”, or “Having a

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Farmers face uncertainty, seeking answers – Govt PETER BURKE


says there is unlikely to be much growth in production in the dairy sector in the coming year. He told Dairy News at National Fieldays in mid June that if there is any increase in production, the cash is likely to go into repaying debt. His comments line up with most commentators’ view that the mood of dairy farmers is pessimistic because of central government policies and local government regulations. And they are fed up with public and media bashing of their industry. O’Connor says he’s aware farmers are facing uncertainty in many areas and want answers, and that they have high debt burdens. But many positive

things are also happening, he says. “The price projections for next year are pretty positive. Some farmers out there are getting on and doing a great job, keeping their costs down and probably looking at this next year’s payout as a real bonus.” O’Connor says he wouldn’t be surprised if farmers’ spending at Fieldays was down because most will be focusing on reducing debt and being cautious. The recent ‘Situation and Outlook’ report by the Ministry for Primary Industries sees 2019 being a good year for export earnings – up 5.7% to $17.6 billion. But it predicted much more modest growth over the next four years and only small increases in milk production and milk solids per cow production over the coming years. Some people told Dairy

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor at the recent National Fieldays.

News at Fieldays that they regard the export earnings increases as optimistic and that the ongoing decline in dairy cow numbers is a worry. The report says more rules being imposed on dairying will limit intensification of dairy farming practices. It says this will vary from region to region.

There is both good and bad news for dairy farmers internationally, the report says. The strong production season in NZ contrasted with poorer seasons in Australia, Europe and the US, helping support better prices for NZ products. But in the same paragraph the report notes the volatility

of the GDT auctions. China is now the main importer of NZ dairy products, taking 31% -well ahead of the nextlargest, Australia, which takes just 7%. Such imbalance raises the risk to NZ, says MPI, because any reduction in demand could affect prices and volumes of goods sold there. It also quotes the OECD as indicating a slowing of the Chinese economy. In NZ, despite a reasonable forecast pay out, dairy farm debt last year increased by 0.9% to $41.3 billion and there was a small increase in the number of non performing loans. This is making banks and some farmers nervous, given also the pressure imposed on them by the Zero Carbon Bill and other regulations and negative comments in the media. @dairy_news

TRAINING BOOST FOR DWN LEADER DAIRY WOMENS Network regional leader Chelsea Smith, from King Country, has won an opportunity to take part in an Outward Bound Trust leadership programme. The programme, called The Edge, is supported by New Zealand’s largest network of chartered accounting firms, NZ CA. Smith won the $7000 scholarship as part a new partnership between NZ CA and the Dairy

Women’s Network (DWN). “Chelsea was happy when I contacted her to let her know,” said DWN chief executive Jules Benton says. “It’s going to be a valuable experience in her leadership journey.” Benton says The Edge is designed to help participants draw on their personal strengths and develop the mindset and confidence to lead with their most natural and impactful style.

“She will learn new skills and knowledge and develop a mindset to lead and influence more effectively... for her Dairy Women’s regional network and her farming operation.” Smith will attend the course at Outward Bound in the Marlborough Sounds. It will be split into two week-long modules in late July/early August and November. “I’m excited at the opportunity to invest in my personal

growth and step out of my comfort zone to learn and grow,” Smith said. “The best part is the opportunity to gain the confidence to lead with influence and pass on my knowledge and experience to others.” Alan Hay, executive officer of NZ CA, says The Edge leadership programme enables participants to grow their unique strengths and skills rather than focusing on traditional models of leadership.

Cooper to chair AWDT AGRI WOMEN’S Development Trust (AWDT) has

appointed Linda Cooper to the role of chair. Cooper has spent 20 years in national and international executive leadership positions. She was for eight years the chief financial officer at Livestock Improvement Corporation and similarly with Fisher & Paykel’s US operation. She has been a trustee for Fonterra’s and F&P Appliance’s superannuation schemes, a director of several LIC subsidiaries and a board member of the National Science Challenge: Science for Technological Innovation. Cooper graduated from the AWDT flagship Escalator programme in 2013 and was a programme facilitator. She was AWDT acting chief executive for three months last year. She describes herself as a Waikato girl who grew up on a dairy farm on the Hauraki Plains and has gone full circle around the world before returning home. She says she has always believed in what the organisation was set up to do -- equip and support women in leadership to become vital partners in primary industries. She said the 10-month Escalator course covered everything from financial skills to governance and leadership “and digging into what people call the ‘softer skills’.” “But I think they are the harder ones – self-confidence, self-awareness and who am I as a leader, and how that impacts the people I’m trying to lead and the sector I’m trying to advance.” Cooper takes over from interim chair Mavis Mullins who remains as patron of AWDT. “AWDT is delighted to have a leader with Linda’s background and experience to take up the role of chair,” Mullins said. “She brings a wealth of commercial knowledge and expertise and a passion for supporting women to reach their full potential.” AWDT was formed in 2009 to address gender imbalance in governance and senior decisionmaking in the agricultural sector. It runs annual programmes giving women tools, confidence and know-how to lead and contribute in new ways. From 11 participants in the inaugural Escalator, the trust expects to clock up at least 1000 participants in its programmes this year. “Linda is another example of our Escalator alumni giving back to the sector by taking up roles with AWDT to share their expertise and [learnings] from our programmes for the benefit of other women,” Mullins said.– Nigel Malthus





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Winter insights: off the mud, well fed Winter rain and cold inevitably make things wet underfoot. Caring for dairy cows and managing mud is a top priority for all farmers grazing cows during winter. DairyNZ spoke with two Southland dairy farmers about how they look after their cows and the environment. AS OTAITAI Bush dairy

farmer Luke Templeton checks on some of his cows, he takes time to give a few of his favourites a scratch and grub the odd weed. Like most dairy farmers, he takes pride in having his cows and his farm looking good. But at times, wet and cold conditions in winter can make this a challenge. Not that he isn’t farm-

ers aren’t prepared. He’s spent the last 12 to 18 months growing extra feed and planning how best to manage paddocks to look after cows and the environment. “We always hope for the best, but plan for the worst,” he says. Like most dairy farmers in Southland, Templeton feeds kale, swede and turnips to keep his cows in top condition when

grass growth becomes almost non-existent. Another popular crop is fodder beet. About two-thirds of his herd will be fed kale, swedes and turnips, along with baleage to ensure a balanced diet. The remainder, mostly cows due to calve early, will graze on “really dry paddocks” and their diet consists largely of baleage. Despite the benefits

of feeding crops, it’s not without its challenges. Once the crops are eaten, the soil is left bare and at risk of turning into mud in wet conditions if not managed carefully. Like many farmers, Templeton hates seeing cows in mud. He does all he can to reduce mud to ensure their cows can move freely, have a dry surface to lie down and limit the impact on the environment. His methods include back fencing, portable troughs and providing additional feed such as hay and baleage, and

Otaitai Bush farmer Luke Templeton.

moving the break fence up to three times a day. “I find feeding 5% extra means the cows are much more satisfied, lie down more and are more relaxed. We’re always focused on trying to make them as comfortable as

possible.” He also grazes his cows in small mobs of about 100 to 150 cows to minimise damage to paddocks and make it easier to check their condition. “A big part of my winter is monitoring the

cows, making sure they’re satisfied. If I can walk between them and they don’t all chase me honking and hollering, that’s a good indication that they’re full and content.” @dairy_news

BALEAGE READY TO EAT DOWN THE road at Ewen Mathieson’s farm it’s clear he’s also ready for winter. The crop lined driveway has baleage dotted every couple of metres. Mathieson winters a diverse range of stock on farm -- 910 cows, 250 calves, a handful of sheep and even goats. He winters all his animals on the farm and produces all his own feed. He feeds the cows fodder beet, kale and swede and he supplements with baleage. He puts a lot of planning into preparing for winter,

selecting which crops to sow and paddocks that are most suitable, then cultivating and placing supplement such as baleage. Part of this is leaving grass buffers near critical source areas (low-lying areas where water can pool or flow after heavy rain) and waterways and determining the best direction to graze paddocks to prevent nutrient run-off and topsoil loss. “We do our best to limit soil damage by regularly moving the break fence, back fencing, using portable troughs and supplying extra

feed,” he says. “We feed a lot of supplement, up to 4kg of baleage, straw or hay per cow, in addition to the crop. “This helps with active rumen function, keeping our cows warm and content, which means they’re less likely to be walking backwards and forwards making mud.” He says regularly moving the break fence allows him to closely monitor his cows. The amount of time they spend lying down is a good indicator they’re content. “There’s nothing more

rewarding or enjoyable than watching cows lying down chewing their cud. That’s when they’re most relaxed and content. “That’s why we closely monitor lying times to gauge if they’re comfortable and that there isn’t too much mud. They don’t like to lie down on a surface that is too wet. “How our animals perform is critical to our farm wellbeing. We love to see happy contented animals and that’s what we’re trying to achieve no matter what Ewen Mathieson season it is.”


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NZ dairy goat industry seeks data, eyes expansion NEW ZEALAND’S dairy

goat industry is starting research aimed at generating and amassing scientific data on the benefits of consuming goat milk infant formula produced by sustainable farm systems. The research will be a result of the formation last August of Caprine Innovations NZ (CAPRINZ), a five-year $29.65 million partnership between the Ministry for Primary Industries and Dairy Goat Co-op Ltd. CAPRINZ, through clinical trials and on farm research, aims to amass research data about goat milk infant formula products for health professionals advising clients or patients on feeding options when exclusive breast-feeding is not feasible. DGC chief executive David Hemara said they plan to do international consumer research and on farm studies to better understand goat milk’s environmental footprint and clinical research. “Goals include providing information based on sound scientific research into goat milk formula,

CAPRINZ key facts ■■

Caprine Innovations NZ (CAPRINZ) is a five-year, $29.65 million investment programme between the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and Dairy Goat Co-operative (NZ) Ltd (DGC).


Forty percent of the funding is from the Government and 60% from DGC.


DGC supports the WHO Marketing Code for Breastmilk Substitutes and affirms breastfeeding as the best source of nutrition for babies and infants.


The programme aims to provide health care professionals world-wide with peer reviewed and published scientific information about goat milk infant formula and to ensure that quality goat milk is produced on sustainable farms.

Goals include: ■■ Growing research and farming capability and increasing export revenue to $400m per annum by 2023. ■■

Growing the size of the industry to about 100,000 milking goats and creating 400 more jobs on farms.

growing research and farming capability, and increasing export revenue in the NZ dairy goat milk industry to $400 million per annum by 2023,” Hemara said. “CAPRINZ also aims to create 400 new jobs on farms, double the size of the country’s milking goat herd to about 100,000, improve dairy goat farm-

ing practice and sustainable production, and boost the industry’s capability.” The clinical research work will complement focus groups DGC says it has done world-wide canvassing the views and concerns of parents, caregivers, paediatricians and health practitioners. Hemara said DGC

The goat industry aims to double the size of the country’s milking goat herd to about 100,000.

is “working with an international board of paediatricians who provide insight into the type of research their members and audiences need to validate perceptions about goat milk infant formula”. “At home, the CAPRINZ programme has been a catalyst for extending our science capabilities. “We have always been strong in research to understand the unique properties of goat milk. Our clinical trials have

researched the functional differences of goat milk for infants and young children. “But until this partnership we had not been able to combine both fields of study. The CAPRINZ partnership has enabled us to expand our capacity for pre-clinical and clinical research which we hope will add data to the body of scientific knowledge and benefit the industry and the economy. “Our on farm research will develop practical tools to build capability and support the sustain-

able and environmentally balanced growth of the industry,” Hemara said. Two scientists and a marketing manager have been appointed: Senior scientist Dr Sophie Gallier completed her PhD at the University of Otago then held postdoctoral and scientist positions in NZ and the Netherlands in dairy science and paediatric nutrition. She has worked as a senior scientist in NZ in maternal and paediatric nutrition, working on brain and cognitive development in early life.

Science leader farm research Dr Sally-Anne Turner has spent 20 years in the bovine industry researching the production of key components in milk and how farm systems can improve production. Jordyn May, a graduate in food science and marketing, is assistant medical marketing manager appointed to deal with health professionals. He was previously a product development technologist with DGC. @dairy_news




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Cows thriving in carrot country The Frew family in Ohakune have arguably the largest milking platform in New Zealand – some 4000ha – yet run only 700 cows. The question is why? Peter Burke explains. THE FREW family partnership is based in the small central North Island township of Ohakune, the carrot capital of New Zealand and the gateway to the popular Turoa ski field. On a clear day Mt Ruapehu provides a majestic backdrop to much of the land owned by the Frews. After obtaining his degree at university Ron Frew came back to the family farm and in 1967 grew his first crop of carrots. Forty years later add to that dairy farmer. Frew and his family now grow about 20ha of carrots which they sell to Fresh Direct in Auckland and to Speirs in Marton. They are also big potato growers with normally about 100ha planted annually. All their potatoes are washed and supplied to the Foodstuffs chain with its various supermarkets. They also

“We were initially buying the land for cropping but it was a dairy farm and we were going to convert it out of dairy.” sell to independent retailers. But that’s not all. Frews also run a large sheep and beef operation – 25,000 breeding ewes and 530 breeding cows. And they raise calves. A relatively new addition is dairying, which they took on about seven years ago. “We were initially buying the land for cropping but it was a dairy farm and we were going to convert it out of dairy,” says Frew. “But in the end it didn’t make sense because we would have been faced with fencing the whole operation for sheep and building a woolshed. So we decided to stay with dairy and it is much more profitable

than sheep.” The dairy farm is located 5km north of Ohakune on rich free draining soils. When they bought the dairy farm it had a 40 bail rotary and was running about 600 cows. Production was about 270,000kgMS. But Ron Frew and his family don’t do things by halves and are now in the final stages of building a $2 million dollar dairy shed with all the bells and whistles. One challenge has been setting up the new 54 bail rotary. The land is low and the shed site required building up with rock from their quarry. Says Frew, “It has all the modern technology --



Farmer Ron Frew feeds reject carrots and potatoes to his cows.

automatic cup removers, teat spray, you name it. We also have CowScout neck collars on every animal to monitor eating times and it has an alert function which tells us quickly if a cow is exhibiting feeding or health problems. “The shed also has systems that draft cows on

heat or have health issues into a vet area.” This technology and improved genetics is aimed at increasing the per cow performance and overall production. The family employs a contract milker and two other staff on the dairy

farm Frew could not tell us the actual size of the milking platform because it varies. The carrots and potatoes are only grown for a year or so in once place and then the land is put back into pasture. There’s

a bonus for the animals in this: during the carrot and potato harvest they get a change of diet -- the reject carrots and potatoes. Another dimension to this amazing large family enterprise is the growing and sale of hay to farmers in Waikato.

McKee Phone 0800 625 826

Ron Frew outside his new $2 million milk shed.

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Stock in transition need key nutrients

Next generation oral calcium for cows


WITH WINTER now well under-

way, dairy cows are fast approaching the most stressful time of the year. They have been dried off, run off and are in transition. So farmers must try to anticipate their needs in advance as they head into a new lactation season. Cows are experiencing hormone secretion, metabolic change and bone rebuilding, made tougher by added stress and low dry matter intake during the first days post calving. Confronted in a short time with such huge challenges, cows have to manage this situation with its impact on their production, immune status and reproduction performance. A dairy cow moves many nutrients to produce milk solids during lactation so she needs to rebuild her body and skeleton during the dry and transition period to start the next lactation without developing metabolic disorders. In each lactation a cow can lose about 500gm of calcium from her natural storage, namely her bones. She is mining her skeleton to put calcium and phosphorus into milk. This situation can explain why higher producing, older cows are more susceptible to milk fever. Farmers must optimise cows’ absorption of calcium and phos-

Cows are fast approaching the most stressful time of the year, says Joe McGrath (inset).

phorus to keep them strong and healthy -- basically putting back what they take out. Under New Zealand conditions, knowing the dynamics of the minerals in the different stages of the cow’s transition is the key to designing a proper transition. Excess potassium affects magnesium absorption. You also need to take into account mineral ratios and vitamin levels and understand the difference between farms in order to devise the most beneficial strategy on farm.

Based on scientific knowledge and understanding of NZ conditions, Sollus’s approach differs from conventional mineral company recommendations. We design and formulate highly effective transition supplements for NZ dairy cows. Our product Tranzsol contains antioxidants, magnesium and, most importantly, Rovimix Hy-D. This combination allows cows to safely transition, even when consuming pasture. The product also contains needed calcium, magnesium and salt.

Rovimix Hy-D is a molecule designed by the animal nutrition company DSM to manage calcium absorption. Calcium is critical for the function of the smooth muscles of the uterus, rumen teats and sphincter. If these muscle groups cannot function effectively a greater risk arises of metabolic disorders, mastitis and reproductive issues. We no longer need to accept these diseases as normal in milking cows. • Dr Joe McGrath is Sollus technical veterinary advisor.


I’VE SEEN first-hand on farm how many farmers pride themselves on taking good care of their animals. That is reinforced by the dairy sector’s commitment to animal care set out in the Dairy Tomorrow strategy. The goal? To be world leading in animal care. Many farmers are working hard to achieve this goal. It attracted me from the US to be a part of the New Zealand dairy sector. I’m impressed by how many farmers have made changes to improve

animal welfare on farm, even before regulations came into force. Take tail shortening, for example. From this October, removing the last two-three vertebrae of a cow’s tail will be prohibited. But a vet will still be allowed to shorten or dock a tail under local anaesthetic if it is damaged or diseased. We know from our interactions with farmers that most of you stopped shortening tails long ago. This is great as it is painful for the cow, and extensive research shows it does not improve udder hygiene, or reduce mastitis and

somatic cell count. Better options for tail management Good hygiene, stockmanship and vaccination programmes have been found to be a much more effective option. A cow’s tail actually provides a range of benefits, including allowing her to swat away flies and communicate intentions and moods to herd mates and handlers. Trimming a cow’s tail hair, or switch, is allowed under the new regulations. This is a good option to help maintain udder health and keep cows’ udders and milkers’ faces clean, while still allowing cows

to deter flies. Tails can be trimmed using hand shears, scissors or electric trimmers. It’s up to you and your farm team to decide what works best for your farm system.

Visit www.dairynz. Or to find out more about the new tail shortening regulations visit • Katherine DeWitt is DairyNZ developer animal care and biosecurity.

TOMORROW’S VISION New Zealand will be world leading in on farm animal care (one of the six commitments and goals in the sector strategy). This means the sector will: Develop and implement a framework that ensures every animal is valued and treated with care and respect. By 2023 have all farmers implementing and reporting under the framework. For more about the strategy visit

More calcium + lasts longer Gets our down cows up fast and the slow release pearls keeps them up. It’s far quicker and easier than a bag under the skin or other orals we’ve used. Geoff Clark, Mako Dairies

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Effluent Expo 2019 will be bigger, better EFFLUENT EXPO 2019 will build on last year’s event that drew 1500 farmers, says spokeswoman Amanda Hodgson. “Feedback from exhibitors and farmers who attended in 2018 was really positive,” and most

of last year’s exhibitors will be back, says Hodgson. “Farmers appreciated seeing under one roof all the products and services available to them, and listening... to a wide range of industry experts in our

WHERE... Mystery Creek Events Center, 125 Mystery Creek Road, Hamilton WHEN... November 19 and 20 (Tuesday and Wednesday), 8:30am to 3:30pm.

seminars. “Exhibitors were happy with the targeted audience they could engage with each day and almost every one of the 70 exhibitors who attended last year will be back again this year.” The two-day Effluent Expo is timed to follow the intense cow mating season. Farmers may attend one or both days as they choose, depending on their workload. The Effluent Expo showcases from con-

ception to completion of a whole farm effluent system. That includes farm infrastructure design, accredited designers, irrigation specialists, storage or concrete infrastructure containment facilities, flood washing and recycling greenwater, solids separation systems (mechanical and non mechanical), cow housing, machinery and contractors for excavations and site preparation and for spreading effluent.

ALL SITES INDOORS ACCORDING TO organisers, over half of the pavilion is full with returning and new exhibitors for the 2019 NZ Effluent Expo. This year’s Effluent Expo will have a new layout: all sites are indoors. There are two sections – exhibitor section and industrial site section. An exhibitor function on the Tuesday night is included in the booking. Seminars will run in the same format as last year “with a few tweaks here and there”. Guest speakers will be centre stage and will be around 1pm on both days Tuesday and Wednesday.


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QUALITY WATER Over-irrigation forced IS IMPORTANT

Plants, fencing keeps council to take action nasties out of water

FORSI are specialists in customised treatment systems for all types of water quality issues.

manner,” says Lynch. “On this particulock Farms was taken by than moving over the surface attached lar farm the storage was Waikato Regional Coun- stock from FENCES PREVENT to particles as phosphorus does. So only sufficient for a single cil following entering andinspections dirtying the water, and riparian planting alone will not be sufday. It should have been where plants over-irrigation growing behindofthe fences staficient to solve the problem of nutriup to 100 times larger effluent was evident.  bilise stream banks and block the ent build-up in Waikato waterways. than that. With virtually Effluent of from an from land into movement particles More farmers in the region and no storage, this means underpass streams. to an adjoining nationwide are protecting streams there will have been reguproperty was also being Even without planting, fencon their property with riparian fenclar and frequent unlawful pumped directly to land ing streams reduces faecal coliforms ing and plants. discharges of dairy effluin large volumes.  Both reaching the water by 35% and preent into the environment practices pose a real risk vents banks eroding. for years. of effluent In idealcontaminating conditions, fenced grass ■■ Seepage areas and wetlands Seeps and wetlands act like the “We would have groundwater. riparian strips can reduce: ■■ Similar ‘kidneys’ of the land. They naturally expected Mr Pollock to breaches had sediment entry to streams by at remove pollutants from farm run-off have changed his pracbeenleast found by the council 80%. Effluent sump overflowing on the farm. ■■ 2016 by filtering and cleaning the water tices following his first in and 2017. Formal dissolved P entry by at least 50%. ■■ nitrate-N that flows through them. Sediment prosecution. Unforwarnings andby infringeat least 60%. material are trapped in the their tunately, it has taken virtually doubled anhelps ongoingand riskfaecal to the ment noticesriparian had been Planting strips also wetland vegetation, and the microbes enforcement herd size, from 380 to 700 environment for years. issued for those breaches restore the ecology of streams by Abundantnumerous carbon also reduces the living in wetland soils remove nitrate actions, including three cows, with no expansion There has been woefully and an abatement notice casting shade that cools the water proportion of harmful greenhouse from farm run-off. prosecutions and finally of dairy effluent infrainadequate infrastructure had been served on the and suppresses aquatic weed growth. gases emitted by wetland areas. a Very high levels of nitrate removal court order, for that farmat structure. on this farm since Mr Polfarming company in SepWhen combined with weed and pest Wetlands can be constructed have been recorded for wetland areas to ultimately get toofacatchgood “Every dairy farm lock first appeared before tember 2016 to cease the killing, planting can enhance habitat drain outlets, or at the base (up to 90%). However, for wetlands place. should have sufficient the courts in the 1990s. illegal practices. on land for native insects and bird life. ment areas, to remove nitrogen before to work effectivelystorage they need be todrainage “This a very sigto betoable safely water simply, he has “This farmer is underHowever, riparian plantingQuite is less flowsisinto downstream retained (unaffected by drainage), nificant fine. It is a clear store effluent through wet ignored all of the actions mining all of the posisuccessful in reducing nitrate entry waterways. adequately sized for the catchment message to those poor and busy periods, the idea taken by the council to tive work being done by to streams where there are no wet A wetland of 2-5 % of the total area allowthat growth in the whenofweather date, as well as and all offenced the tobeing the wider farmingthe indussoils bordering stream channel catchmentperformers area draining intodairy it is recwetland vegetation that will slow industry that they need and circumstances messaging from his own try and community to from which N can be released back ommended for significant N-removal. flow. to change theirare behaviour, allow, this effluent can industry towater improve.” improve to the air.our environConstructed wetlands getting A carbon-rich form as an theeffective courts, the public thenofbevegetation irrigated to noticed as WRC to established that ment,” council invesThissaid is because nitrate tends mechanism the effectiveness wetlandin an and even theirdownstream own indusland asof fertiliser from 2010increases to 2016 the tigations Patrick pass intomanager groundwater from the padfor protecting sensitive bacteria that remove nitrogen.safereceiving try has lost patience and a act to environmentally Lynch. dock surface through the soil,company rather purchased waters such as lakes. with them,” said.naturally economically prudent, Retaining neighbouring farm and “This farm has posed andLynch fencing occurring wetlands and seeps is much FENCED AND GRASSED DRAINS cheaper than a constructed wetland. MANAGING POO Fencing out swampy areas can also MANY DRAINS on farms empty directly into waterways and can be prevent stock losses. If weeds are DAIRY farmers have a in someof effluent non-compliance. effluent management aALL major source of pollutants areas. Poorly managed drains controlled these areasrequirecan quickly responsibility to manage ‘highways’, the All farmers need tointo be aware ments and how to meet them. can act as contamination providing shortcuts wabecome attractive features in the effluentfor from their cows and this of, understand and adhere drain to DairyNZ resources available terways nutrients, bacteria and sediment. A well-managed farm landscape, and provide valuis taken seriously by the vast permitted activity rules. to all dairy farmers include a can aid nutrient removal and form an important habitat for fish and able habitat for fish and bird life as majority of dairy For farmers who haven’t yet Dairy Effluent Storage Calculaother water life. farmers. natural wetland vegetation re-estabMost dairy farmers areand well vegetated undertaken work reduce neededthe to tor, A Farmer’s Guide to Building Keeping drains fenced canthe greatly lishes. Tree-planting is generally not investing reliable, discharged sustainableto waterways. meet their obligations, advice a New Effluent Storage Pond amount ofinnutrients Fencing banks pre-is recommended around wetland farm systems. availablethe from dairy companies and a certification scheme for marvents stock trampling and erosion, reducing frequency of drain gins as treeseffluent can dry system out the soils and Well-designed and conand regional councils. DairyNZ accredited maintenance required. Vegetation such as rough grass will trap shade the carbon-rich wetland structed effluent storage proalso has an environmental designers. Farmers looking for spefarm nutrients and slow the water flow so that nutrient removal cies. Locally occurring reeds, vides a lot of benefits – better extension specialist whose role support in establishing efflu-rushes, processes can occur (in this case drains can act like mini-wetlands). flexibility for irrigation, better includes working with farmers, ent can visit the andinfrastructure sedges are more suitable. Mechanical drain cleaning should be kept to a minimum, and environmental management, rural professionals and others DairyNZ website – www.dairynz. • Article sourced from Waikato Regional spraying of drain vegetation done only along a portion of the drain peace of mind and reduced risk to help farmers understand their Council publication ‘The condition of at any one time. rural water and soil in Waikato region’. THE CASE against Pol-

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POORLY DESIGNED and maintained tracks and raceways can collect and channel farm run-off into the nearest waterway, carrying sediment, nutrients and effluent into the water. Well-designed raceways divert run-off from the track onto paddocks rather than into waterways. As well as helping the environment, this also prevents channelling and eroding, saving on track maintenance. An important consideration for track design and minimal maintenance is the shaping of the track to direct water off the track surface and into rough grass areas (for example, with a crown on a flat slope, or correct cambering and culverts on a slope). Regular cut-offs (small channels on the side of the track) will remove water, again directing it into the paddock or rough grass alongside. This prevents scouring of the track surface and excessive erosion. Approaches to waterways are particularly important: if there is an area of fenced vegetation or small wetland alongside the waterway, track run-off should be diverted into this area so that dirty water does not run directly into the stream.


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Water projects to support growth IRRIGATION NZ says

the recent announcement of $30.6 million in Provincial Growth Funding for water projects in Hawke’s Bay will be critical to support the region’s continued prosperity and wellbeing. “Water drives the Hawke’s Bay economy and it is critical to people’s wellbeing and the region’s prosperity,” says Elizabeth Soal, IrrigationNZ chief executive. “Both Hawke’s Bay’s agricultural production and its tourism sectors are reliant on having secure access to water to enable horticulture and viticulture to flourish.” The region currently faces a number of challenges around water

security and a changing climate will result in more frequent droughts and more variable rainfall will affect both urban and rural communities. “This means that we will need to rethink how we manage water and draw on new tools in the future,” says Soal. “It is very exciting that this funding will support research into managed aquifer recharge in Central Hawke’s Bay. Managed aquifer recharge is widely used overseas and has been very successful in replenishing aquifer levels. Alongside this there is funding for an aerial electromagnetic survey of Hawke’s Bay aquifers to improve our understanding of

groundwater depth and capacity.” $12.9 million has also been allocated through the Provincial Growth Fund to investigate options for smallscale water storage to supplement water flows in and across the Heretaunga Plains. “Hawkes’s Bay is one of our most productive regions and is our largest apple producing region, as well as our second biggest wine and vegetable growing region. We know only a small percentage of land is suitable for horticulture in New Zealand and there are significant areas which are under pressure from urban expansion. It’s critical that we ensure

that good horticultural land can be fully productive by ensuring

that there is a secure future water supply,” says Soal.


Soal says studies of irrigation development in other regions in New Zealand have shown that it results in higher household incomes, higher regional GDP, a

boost in employment figures and that it also has positive social benefits like increased rural school rolls and higher levels of home ownership.

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MORE DRY, LESS RAIN PARLIAMENTARY UNDER-SECRETARY for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau says that while the Hawke’s Bay previously had a favourable climate, high quality land for growing produce, and an abundance of fresh water, this is no longer the case with longer drier periods and inconsistent rainfall patterns. “Water is therefore a major focus for PGF funding in the region because it is critical for the region’s economic prosperity. The PGF will provide funding for pre-feasibility work for the development and construction of much needed small-scale water storage on the Heretaunga Plains. “The Heretaunga water project will ensure enough water is stored for use when supplies are low over summer. It will also help mitigate the depletion of municipal water in Napier and Hastings. “The PGF will also fund an aquifer mapping project and region-wide fresh water assessment project. This will build on previous work that considers how to futureproof supply. “It is fantastic that the government is investing in Hawke’s Bay in a way that will facilitate economic growth and development,” Stuart Nash, the member for Napier, said. “I am very proud to be part of a Government that recognises the value of regions to the overall wellbeing of the country,” Nash said.



Spread with care and save WHEN SPREAD over land and applied in timely fashion effluent can offer farmers savings in fertiliser costs, says the Waikato Regional Council (WRC). It says having effluent management systems in place on farm should give farmers enough flexibility so that they don’t irrigate either when soil is waterlogged or when there is an equipment breakdown. The council recommends farmers can protect waterways on farm by not irrigating within 50 metres of a water supply, leaving a strip of non-irrigated land next to all watercourses of at least 20 metres wide and ensuring that spray drift isn’t getting into nearby streams or rivers. It points out that soil acts as a living filter: filtering the applied effluent. It changes effluent physically by filtering out effluent particles, breaking them down and incor-

porating them into the soil structure; chemically by absorbing nutrients and making them available to plants; and biologically when harmful micro-organisms (such as bacteria) present in the effluent are retained by the soil, or are killed when the effluent dries or is exposed to sunlight. However, soil can only filter so much effluent at a time. WRC says it’s important to match the irrigation depth to the capability of the soil. “Land with impeded or artificial drainage, high or rising water tables or slopes of greater than 7 degrees has a higher risk from over-application, and therefore application depths should be adjusted accordingly to reflect soil and weather conditions.” Too much effluent can: ■■ Kill pasture – especially where effluent has ‘ponded’ on the soil surface

HOW MUCH TO ERADICATE ALTHOUGH EFFLUENT contains many nutrients which can impact on farm management, it is the environmental effects of nitrogen that determine how much you can irrigate onto land. Too much nitrogen can reduce pasture performance and reduce water quality in neighbouring waterways. If you know exactly how much nitrogen is in effluent, you can work out the most effective application rates for your land. In the Waikato region, no more than 150kg of nitrogen in effluent can be applied per hectare of grazed grass per year. You’ll need to get effluent tested to work out how much nitrogen is going onto your land during irrigation. Most registered analytical laboratories offer this service for around $100. When used with a nutrient budget this is a small cost compared to the fertiliser savings that can be made over time when effluent applications are timed efficiently.



Pollute nearby streams and rivers – where it runs off paddocks into waterways Pollute ground water – by seeping too deep


into the soil Be an ineffective use of nutrients - by seeping past the root zone before the plant can utilise it.

Effluent has to be applied in timely fashion.

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A well designed pond provides peace of mind EFFLUENT PONDS provide temporary storage of effluent, when soil conditions are not suitable for irrigation. Having a well designed and constructed pond will save you time and money; also providing peace of mind and increased flexibility – determine when to irrigate at a time that suits. It will also allow more effective utilisation of nutrients and water and importantly, reduce risk of effluent non-compliance.

When designing a pond there are three key things you want: ■■ 1. A sealed pond to avoid leakage to groundwater ■■ 2. A well designed structure that also allows for ongoing operation and maintenance, and is appropriately sized for the volume of effluent produced now and in the foreseeable future ■■ 3. A pond that meets regional and district council and Building Act requirements.

DairyNZ recommends that those involved with the technical design and construction of dairy effluent storage ponds have a thorough understanding of the full practice note for effluent pond construction. Planning is a critical stage – poor information now will compromise the whole project and your effluent pond may never meet your needs. DairyNZ says to ensure your designer and contractor have the right information to design your effluent pond you will need to provide them with information on your future intentions and your design preferences.

“When designing effluent ponds it is best to future-proof your system: by making sure your future intentions with farm are taken into account. Using the right person/people for the job is also critical to getting a good pond. Designing and constructing FDE ponds is a technical job and requires specialist knowledge. DairyNZ recommends that you get a suitably qualified person to design your pond.

This will provide assurance that the investment in your pond will be appropriate for your farm and your farming system and that the pond will comply with regional council requirements. “The ond is designed with an understanding of the current research and best technology options available at the time: and will meet the design requirements.” @dairy_news

POND SAFETY EFFLUENT PONDS are often a known risk on farms and there are several ways to manage this risk. Recommended pond safety features Fencing - All ponds should be fenced off with a netting fence to prevent stock and children from accidentally falling into the pond. Locked gates are essential and electric fences can also be used. Escape ladders - All ponds should have at least one permanently placed ladder or alternative escape means in case a person falls into the pond. You can have a life buoy available in the area too. Anchor points - Pontoons should have anchor points to improve stability. Signage - Warning signs can be used to keep people out of the area but direct communication with

people is important too. Talk with farm staff, contractors and visitors about the effluent pond risks. Farm rules - Rules for effluent pond safety control who is allowed in the pond area and can stipulate that no one is to enter the area alone. That way, you can keep non-swimmers out of the area and ensure there is always at least two people inside the fence when working in the area.  Risk management - It’s important to identify risks like effluent ponds and do the planning to avoid accidents.  Visitors - Make sure anyone coming on the farm knows the risks around the effluent pond, specially people who will be going in that area of the farm. How will you communicate the


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More BoP farms lagging on effluent control MORE DAIRY farmers were found lagging on efflu-

ent compliance in Bay of Plenty in 2017-18, the council says. It inspected 351 dairy effluent systems during the 2017-2018 monitoring period, finding 75% complying – down from 79% in the previous year. Significant noncompliance rose to 5% from 1.4% in the 2016-2017 year. Compliance ranged from 87% in the Ōhiwa Harbour and Waiotahi area to 62% in Tauranga Harbour area, which was highest performing in the 2016-2017 year (93%). Fourteen abatement notices and eight infringement notices were issued for dairy discharge related offences. Seven prosecutions were taken as a result of serious breaches. Five are now before the courts. The main reasons for non-compliance in the 20172018 year were poor pond management (full or overflowing ponds), effluent irrigation causing excessive ponding and/or runoff to waterways, and discharge of effluent into stormwater diversion systems. Bay of Plenty has 680 consented dairy sheds. Dairy Statistics NZ estimates BoP had 335,145 cows during 2017-2018. Average herd size was 372.

Clever device blows algae out of trough water MARK DANIEL


took five students at St Pauls Collegiate School in Hamilton to the top prize in the Fieldays Young Innovator of the Year competition. Convinced they could help boost supplies of clean water for livestock, they set out to solve the problem of algal growth and micro-organisms in troughs.

L to R Jana Stokes, Abby Bartels, Ag Minister Damien O’Connor, Lucy Gray-, Cate Wilson, Pearl Lovell.

The result: the BobbleTrough. The device uses an integral solar panel to convert sunlight into an electrical current that energises a submerged copper electrode. This sheds copper ions by electrolysis, so killing algal blooms and harmful micro-organisms.

A pre-programmed solar timer prevents the electrode from ‘over-ionising’ the trough and prevents copper levels from exceeding 0.2 - 0.4 ppm. A dedicated BobbleTrough smartphone app monitors copper levels, pH and the automated timers, allowing easy

monitoring and adjustment of single or multiple units any time. In operation, the device needs to be placed in a trough for 24-36 hours before animals arrive in a paddock, depending on the levels of algae. Side or bottom fasteners anchor it in place

and a barred glass shield protects it from inquisitive animals. The BobbleTrough is maintenance free apart from replacement of the copper electrodes every 12 to 16 months. Retail price $195. @dairy_news

Water leaks spring winner A FARMER fed up with searching for water leaks took a prototype device to Gallaghers and the company won an important Fieldays prize for the developed product. The Gallagher Water Flow Indicator won the Fieldays International Innovation Award at the International Business Networker event. Murray Jones spent six-seven years creating the indicator which went through three or four prototypes until he was ready to take it the next step. With his prototype in a box he went to Gallagher to pitch his idea. “It was an easy choice to go to Gallagher to make this happen,” Jones said. “I knew what I wanted but I relied heavily on their expertise to make it happen. “Gallagher has a great reputation nationally and globally and their marketing reach is pretty hard

Murray Jones (left) and Graham Johns Product Manager Gallagher Group.

to beat.” Step one was the actual flow indicator unit and step two was to get it into a smartphone which was where Gallagher came in. It was crucial to find the water leaks and to make it to be easily checked remotely. The award judges applauded the “brilliantly simple” practicality of

the indicator and recognised how it would help to identify system leaks, monitor water flow at glance and support farmers in complying with water rules. Other features: standalone design and scalability for farm water monitoring via digital communication and easy to use smartphone apps.




Green water turned into yard wash MARK DANIEL

FOR HERD drink-

ing water and dairy shed operation, milk production makes massive demands on water supplies. DairyNZ says average water use to wash yards and clean a milking shed and equipment totals about 70L/cow/day, meaning a 400-cow unit will use 28,000L/day. In a typical 270-day milking season this will result in 7.5 million litres of farm dairy effluent (FDE) annually. So there’s big money to be saved by treating FDE to produce clarified water for recycling. And there’s a positive impact on the environment. Ravensdown knew this, and with Lincoln University devised the ClearTech System, jointly developed over three-four years. It enables a farm to re-use two thirds of its original water volume, can increase the number of days storage in existing ponds by up to 200%, reduces e-coli pollution by 99.9% and reduces the risk of phosphorous contamination in waterways. It can also reduce irrigator movement and so lower the risk of consent breaches and possible fines. Designed to integrate with existing effluent systems, ClearTech requires

fresh effluent – no older than three days and typically 99% water and 1% solids. The FDE, after passing through the dairy environment and a stone trap, is pumped from the holding sump/tank into the ClearTech clarification tank. At this stage a turgidity sensor takes a reading to assess the suspended particles, and a programmable logic controller (PLC) instructs the coagulant pump to meter the agent into the vessel. That agent (polyferric sulphate, a food-grade additive) creates a flocculation and settling of the colloidal particles in the FDE, which then settles to the bottom of the tank. Typically clarification takes three-four hours to treat the 30,000L clarification tank, so the process can also fit well with twice a day milking. The clarified water is transferred to a holding tank for use after the next milking. The remaining effluent, now with a typical analysis of 97% water and 3% solids, is pumped back to the original effluent pond or storage. The system is designed to run automatically with little or no user intervention. The PLC collects data including litres of water reclaimed, cycles completed, cycles rejected by contamination such as milk spills, and power consumption, coagulant

use and re-ordering. The ClearTech product manager, Carl Ahlfeld, says a complete system “can be purchased outright for $88,000 or more typically operated on a three-year lease plan,

including maintenance for $1610 per month”. “Coagulant is currently about $1.13/L plus freight, meaning a 500-cow unit will incur consumables costs of $7000- $8000 per annum.”


Gypsum application is a standard practice worldwide for addressing the build up of sodium in soils, including soils receiving waste waters. Gypsum is one of those rare materials that performs in all categories of soil treatment: an amendment, conditioner and fertiliser. It is useful in the transition period in dairy cows 2 – 4 weeks pre & post calving, and can be used as an anionic salt to counteract the effects that high potassium & sodium concentrations have on increasing hypocalcemia. Gypsum, a readily available form of calcium, is 100 times more soluble than lime and is more suitable for the digestive system during this period.

Gypsum in fertilising Soil tests throughout New Zealand shows sulphur deficiency is wide spread. Although often overlooked, sulphur is needed in at least equal quantities to phosphorus. Many responses in crops are sulphur due to the sulphate radical (SO4--). • Readily dissociates into free calcium ions (Ca++) and sulphate ions (SO4--), major elements in plant nutrition • Has an approximately neutral pH and can be used in heavy applications without causing undue alkalinity in soils

Gypsum in water savings

• Promotes water infiltration, retention and conservation • Allows water to penetrate the soil without forming puddles or water logging • Conserves water by stretching intervals between irrigations • Tests show that farmland treated with gypsum requires up to 33% less water than soils without recent gypsum application

Carl Ahlfeld, ClearTech product manager.

How Does Gypsum Work?

Gypsum is hydrated calcium sulphate. Calcium from gypsum replaces sodium in the soil. The sulphate allows the sodium to be effectively leached out of the soil. The soil then has more ability to flocculate and form stable aggregates to improve drainage and soil quality. Na+ Na+ Ca++ leached Soil Cation Soil Cation CaSO4 + ➔ + Na2SO4 Exchange Exchange

Gypsum in soil conditioning

• Breaks up soils compacted by sodium and clay, and compounded by farm animals and machinery • Reduces cracking and compaction following irrigation and retards soil crusting • Allows soil to dry more quickly after rain or irrigation so that it may be worked sooner • Decreases energy requirements for tillage • Binds organic matter to soil and checks soil erosion • Enhances friendly bacterial action and discourages plant diseases related to poor soil aeration • Conditioned soil allows for deeper, healthier root development and water penetration

Gypsum in amendment

• Displaces sodium binding clay soils • Reduces high soil aluminium levels • Suppresses the soil acidification effects of growing crops and the prolonged use of acidifying fertilisers

For more about Natural Gypsum and soil stabilisation visit



Council, farmers in line for enviro excellence award TARANAKI REGIONAL Council’s

riparian management scheme is a finalist in the 2019 Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) Excellence Awards. The scheme, a joint effort with local farmers, is said to be long running and successful. The awards, now in their sixth year, recognise councils’ leadership in communities. Farmers are said to have enthusiastically ‘bought into’ the Taranaki scheme – a notably large effort to restore freshwater reserves,

support native habitats and improve ecological health. The $100 million scheme is largely landowner funded. The council has worked with farmers, rural residents and community groups to improve the Taranaki landscape since the early 1990s. It has developed individualised riparian plans and has supplied each year up to 500,000 native plants to planholders at cost. At least 15,400km of stream banks are covered by the voluntary scheme.

The council is a finalist in the Excellence Award for Environmental Wellbeing for the Riparian Management Programme. The judges describe the scheme as “a longstanding initiative with proven success”. LGNZ president Dave Cull said Taranaki’s finalist place reflects strong leadership and innovative work. “These awards demonstrate the value local government provides to community, economic development, infrastructure and the environment.”

The awards judges are the former Wellington mayor Dame Kerry Prendergast; a diplomat and public servant Sir Maarten Wevers; and the executive director of the New Zealand Initiative, Dr

Oliver Hartwich. Winners will be

announced on July 8 at a gala dinner during the

LGNZ Conference in Wellington.

WMS EXPANDS INTO EFFLUENT WAIKATO MILKING Systems (WMS) is bringing its effluent and environment management systems under the same banner as its milking systems. The company in 2015 bought the effluent and environmental specialist Hi-Tech Enviro Solutions and has since run it as a separate brand. Hi-Tech was founded in Morrinsville in 1992. WMS has its global head office in Hamilton and offices and agents in other countries. Chief executive Campbell Parker

said the 2015 acquisition “aligned with Waikato Milking System’s expansion of its product offering”. “Moving into effluent management was a natural extension outside the dairy shed enabling us to provide farmers with access to high quality effluent advice and products. “Since we acquired Hi-Tech Enviro Solutions we’ve been working to improve the quality of product and aligning the culture of both businesses. “We also needed to work with

our dealer network on seamless delivery across our entire product range.” Parker said the Hi-Tech brand and services were not as accessible to farmers outside the Waikato region as to local farmers. “Farmers will now be able to discuss their effluent needs with any member of the Waikato Milking Systems team. When a review is required of their effluent system, we will bring in a dairy effluent specialist to advise them and design a system.”

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Right plants, techniques give value for money USING THE right plants and techniques will help maximise the success of riparian planting and give value for money by getting it right first time. Planting fenced riparian areas benefits the environment as plants function like a sieve, filtering out sediment and nutrients before they enter waterways. Riparian plants help prevent land erosion and increase the habitat for native wildlife. What to plant and where Once you have decided on a fence setback, the next step is deciding what to plant, where and at what spacing. In the riparian margin between the waterway and fence there can be up to three zones of plant types. Planting the upper and lower banks will improve water quality more than

just a grass strip. Download your region’s riparian guide to view the table of riparian plants best suited to your region. Planting zones ■■ Grass strip Leave a grass strip at least 1m wide between fences and waterways to help filter sediment, phosphorus and faecal bacteria from runoff before it reaches the water. The grass strip will also prevent plants from tripping electric wires or being grazed if the lower banks will be planted. ■■ Upper bank zone The upper bank zone is on higher ground but may still be partially flooded every couple of years. Use flaxes, grasses, shrubs or trees which provide shade and shelter. ■■ Lower bank zone The lower bank zone is prone to flooding so

plants need to be tolerant of waterlogging. Use plants such as sedges and

rushes, which are well rooted and can survive many days under water.

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Praises for bale feeder MARK DANIEL

WHEN GILTRAP Engineering bought Duncan Ag in 2018, along with the stable of Duncan drills it acquired the company’s line-up of bale feeders and feed-out wagons. As Giltrap already manufactured its own range of feeders and feedout wagons, not all the Duncan machines were carried over to the Giltrap brand. But one Duncan product did make the cut and was quickly incorporated into the Giltrap range -- the SLR bale feeder. Giltrap Engineering managing director Craig Mulgrew says with the ability to feed out hay, straw or baleage and loose pit silage, the SLR bale feeder filled a gap in the Giltrap product offering.

Giltrap SLR bale feeder.

“The SLR is a robust, versatile trailed machine that can handle round bales, medium squares or big squares, with a clean loading system and quick feed-out, giving it a great reputation among users.” Its speed of feeding out and ability to handle a variety of bale formats are

two key reasons farmers in New Zealand and Australia prefer the Giltrap SLR bale feeder, the company says. South Canterbury farmer/contractor Cam Scott bought his SLR bale feeder in 2012 to use on a dairy run-off block he owned, mainly for winter-

ing cows. To date it has fed out about 100,000 bales. “We use it for feeding out round bales of straw, hay and baleage,” he says. “When we bought it, we were feeding upwards of 60-70 bales of baleage a day, so needed something fast to get the work done.

There were other good products on the market at the time, but the speed of the SLR was the key selling point for us.” Scott says his Giltrap SLR has had a hard life due to the demanding conditions of feeding out. “It’s been a good machine, needing very little maintenance except for a few chains, which is to be expected considering the number of bales we’ve put through it. We’re more than happy with the run we have had from it.” He says he is impressed with the bale loading system. “This is an impressive feature, allowing us to load the feeder without spreading grass or straw all over the place and never struggling to lift any bale. All in all it’s a fantastic machine.”

deal to market Mueller BV bulk milk tanks, storage silos and ancillary products across Europe and the Asia-Pacific region. The two have had an informal business agreement for years. The deal will allow Lely to offer complete plants to farmers

building new or upgrading existing dairy operations. Lely chief executive Alexander van der Lely says the deal strengthens the company’s product offering. “This new cooling proposition offers worldwide coverage of our existing Nautilus milk tanks and

allows us to be a partner for complete installations.” Mueller BV has made bulk milk coolers for 60 years, says its general manager, Menko van Gorkum. “When dairy producers choose robotic milking systems they also want high quality cooling and storage to go with them.”

MOVING PROMPTLY against lameness in cows


deals to their pain and can reduce long term hoof damage, says Shoof International, which markets Walkease hoof blocks. Early intervention reduces the duration and severity of lameness although its not always possible to eliminate it, Shoof says. The blocks are for use when lameness is detected early. They are a new style claw prosthetic made from ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), a product more commonly used in the supports of running shoe soles. Used with a fast drying cyanoacrylate adhesive, Walkease offers a fast and effective way to address lameness early. It works by elevating the affected claw, allowing the animal to transfer weight to the healthy claw. This speeds recovery via increased mobility and function (a reduction in locomotion score). Blocks compress down naturally over 10-14 days of wear so the healthy claw suffers no ill effects. The blocks are claimed inexpensive, easy to fit and make for quicker recovery.


Hoof blocks keep away lameness

Lely Dairy New Zealand Ltd won the Best Agribusiness Outdoor Site Award (Small) at Mystery Creek Fieldays. The Xero judges said Lely’s “on-brand”, bright red site design was a stand-out in the sector.

Are you hitting your target market?


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Irish mean business at Fieldays MARK DANIEL

WHILST THE Irish can

be relied on to lay on plenty of jollity at Fieldays, the name of their game is ultimately business. New Zealand Trade and Enterprise could learn a lot from Enterprise Ireland, the Emerald Isle’s business promotion organisation that backs the efforts of the Irish contingent at Fieldays. They started the week with a pre-event dinner and maintained a forceful presence day by day. One Irish company showed how important it sees the New Zealand market by sending both the managing director and sales, marketing and development manager to Mystery Creek. That was Abbey

Machinery, which can trace its roots back to the 1800s. It really kicked off in 1947 when Joseph Cavanagh returned from the US with a newfound knowledge of welding. He and his wife Mary started a business in Nenagh and it prospered, manufacturing feeders, toppers and muck or slurry spreaders. Today, in a largely a male dominated industry, Abbey Machinery has a woman managing director -- Clodagh Cavanagh, the granddaughter of Joseph and Mary. She’s a strong determined leader with a twinkle in her eye and a shrewd head for business “I probably got my business acumen from my grandmother who was always an inspiration to me,” Cavanagh told Dairy News. “While grandfather was the innovator, Mary

Abbey Machinery managing director Clodagh Cavanagh (left) and sales and marketing manager Michael O’Grady at the Fieldays.

was always the business brains of the pair. Grandma passed away just after her 100th birthday, but even then she was checking the numbers on

her calculator to see if our move to new premises in 2016 was on track.” Cavanagh succeeded her father Charles as managing director in

2012 then the company moved to a 13ha site at Toomavera, constructing a 9290sq.m factory with plenty of room for expansion. This signalled the

Cavanagh family’s intentions. Today the business is aiming for 15% annual growth – doubling in size every five years and with 60% of production heading for export. “Business in NZ and Australia is a great fit for us, as it allows us to maintain year round production irrespective of regional seasonality.” The company sees opportunities in South Africa where mechanisation is growing, and in Norway, Poland and Iceland. It spends about €500,000 on R&D annually while keeping a focus on core products but is always looking to develop new or use emerging technology to add value to farming or contracting. Recent products are effluent injection units to fit to

tankers and equipment to deliver data on application rates or proof of placement. Says Cavanagh, “Our company benefits from the huge expertise of our 100 workers, half of whom are involved in farming here in Ireland. “We are always keeping an eye on things like composite materials, but our core is working with steel to make reliable and hard working products that make farmers’ lives easier. “Of course, things are changing. Not so long ago 1600 gallon tankers were our bread and butter, but now we’re moving to 3000 gallon units and have many requests for bigger. “Our job is to evolve with the market, while also providing more support, better training and more opportunities.”






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Revamped feeders carry more bales MARK DANIEL


Hustler mint green paintwork, the Hastings company’s new RX feeders result from six years of development leading to a five-model range with capacities of 11 to 28cu.m. Much of the redesign was to optimise the capacity of the main body to allow maximum use of space particularly for round or square bales. The RX 138 (13.5cu.m) will hold six, rather than

five, 4 x 6 foot round bales -- a 20% increase. Or carrying a square bale 4 x 4 x 8 foot long the capacity increases from two to three bales -- an increase of 50%. The machine is also said to be much more manoeuvrable than its predecessor, with a tighter turning radius achieved by shortening and sculpting the drawbar and repositioning the axles. Within the body, a heavy duty polyethylene flat floor design combines with a hydraulic pusher, running on grease-less

slides, to move the load forwards to the cross conveyor. Attention to detail shows in two points: the main floor delivers the load to the cross-conveyor with only a minimal difference in heights, giving a seamless transition of material; and the hydraulically adjusted discharge elevator originates from well under the machine to avoid feed spillages. The discharge elevator has also been changed to a 12,000lb rating roller chain design fitted with box-section bars to deliver

feed to the required destination. In operation, the twospeed main floor feed is controlled automatically by the feed control system that takes load sensing signals from the cross conveyor to bring the load forward as required. Much of the redesign has been aimed at reducing the number of moving parts within the machine and upgrading to better technology for a longer service life. This involved replacing bushes with bearings or grease-less

Hustler’s new RX feeder.

components in key areas. The combination of changes is said to have reduced the number of greasing points by up to 39%, and maintenance times are reduced by up to ten hours a month. And there are other

changes to engineering detail, e.g. the cross-conveyor is driven by a gearbox and a direct drive to the discharge elevator. Standard equipment includes mudguards, access ladders, a heavyduty parking jack and rear

opening tailgate. Add to that an integral weighing system with load cells on the drawbar and axles, a choice of options such as a FeedLink wireless weighing and feed management system, braked axles and a road ready kit.


THREE FARMERS’ sons have

devised a quad trailer rear gate that prevents newborn calves escaping seconds after they’re loaded. The lads, all students at St. Pauls Collegiate School in Hamilton, had seen such loading struggles first-hand. Their resulting Gate+ was an entry in the Fieldays Young Innovator of the Year competition. Daniel Pearse, Douwe de Boer and Sanraj Dhaliwal, all aged 17 and in year 13, created a clever saloon style split gate that allows

calves to be lifted and pushed into a trailer in one movement before the spring-loaded gates snap shut to secure the animals. Unlike other gates, the Gate+ has no catches or spring bolts to unlock, ideal for farmers wearing gloves or mitts on cold mornings. A modular centre section incorporates the spring gates and external ‘wings’ can be customised to fit any length of trailer. The next stage of the project is to build several units and fine tune the spring rates on the gates for a more controlled closing action. Then dairy farmers can line up to buy one.

Sanraj Dhaliwal, Daniel Pearse and Douwe de Boer , St Pauls Collegiate School, with their quad trailer rear gate.

INCREASE PRODUCTION AND PERFORMANCE Hundreds of users of HerdHomes® shelters agree, an investment in HerdHomes® Shelters is an investment in the on going productivity of your farm The future of productive farming M + 64 27 499 0123 P + 64 7 857 0528

NZ Patent Numbers: 521150, 544190, 550635, 545042. Further patents pending. International Patent Numbers: 2003267874, 03748807.9. Further patents pending


GOOD CALL. At FMG, we know that almost one-third of our milk claims are due to antibiotic contamination. It’s this kind of specialised rural knowledge that allows us to pass on valuable advice to farmers to help manage risk. Like advising dairy farmers to mark cows that need antibiotic treatment, so they stand out. At the end of the day, if we can help you avoid loss, it reduces stress, lost production and downtime. So why not get in touch with FMG to see how we can help you make some good calls on your farm. Call us on 0800 366 466, or go to

We’re here for the good of the country. FMG0915DNFP_S

COMBINING NATURE WITH SCIENCE, FIBER FRESH IS THE FEED YOUR CALF NEEDS TO BECOME A SUPER COW. Harnessing the goodness contained in this all-natural feed, calves develop a bigger, stronger rumen – the source for optimal productivity. Give your calves super power for ultimate performance, health and immunity by feeding them antibiotic-free Fiber Fresh superfood.


Profile for Rural News Group

Dairy News 25 June 2019  

Dairy News 25 June 2019

Dairy News 25 June 2019  

Dairy News 25 June 2019