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$1.6b hit looming. PAGE 3

Better nutrient management PAGE 13


Solar-powered ear tags PAGE 20-21

MARCH 17, 2020 ISSUE 442 // www.dairynews.co.nz

HOPING FOR RAIN “If the rain comes soon and soil temperatures remain warm, then the season could quickly pull up.” – Rob Brazendale, DairyNZ. PAGE 4

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NEWS  // 3

$1.3b hit looming PETER BURKE peterb@ruralnews.co.nz

THE DEADLY coronavirus (Covid-19) is forecast

Know your soil. PG.12

House for cows. PG.16

Red-hot Greendrill. PG.23

NEWS�������������������������������������������������������3-9 OPINION�����������������������������������������������10-11 AGRIBUSINESS������������������������������������ 12 MANAGEMENT�������������������������������������� 13 ANIMAL HEALTH���������������������������������� 14 EFFLUENT & WATER������������������� 15-22 MACHINERY & PRODUCTS��������������������������������������������� 23

to strip more than $1.3 billion dollars off New Zealand’s primary exports in the coming year, including $390 million off dairy exports. This latest revelation comes in the Ministry for Primary Industries latest Situation and Outlook Report, released late last week. In December MPI were forecasting that primary exports for the year ending June 2020 would be $47.8 billion – now this has been reduced to $46.5 billion, a mere 0.5% up on the 2019 total. It is also warning of further downward revisions. The report came out the day World Health Organisation declared coronavirus a pandemic. The report states that while the geopolitical tensions on trade such as Brexit and the US-China trade war have eased somewhat, coronavirus has added new uncertainty for NZ primary exporters. It notes that the seafood and forestry sectors have been particularly badly hit. But it points in the last month dairy commodity prices have softened and the average price on the GDT fell 7.5%. It says there has been weakness in milk powders, butter, and anhydrous milk fat. However, despite the disruptions in Chinese markets, North Asian buyers have continued to be active in recent auctions, with volumes traded higher than at the same time the previous year. It adds

With over 125,000 cases worldwide Coronavirus isnow a pandemic. Dark areas have more than 10,000 cases.

that prices for cheese and casein have continued to strengthen. MPI predicts that continued declines in key commodity prices will impact farm gate milk price payouts but it says given the strength of current export prices, strong payouts are still likely and will continue to support dairy farmer profitability this season. It say an average payout of $7.15/ kgMS is likely. Fonterra will announce its half-year results this week: coronavirus is likely to have an impact. Accoriding to MPI, while revenue from the dairy sector is down on the December forecast, it is still ahead of the previous year and is expected to earn about $19.2 billion. The report also notes

that despite the drought in the major dairying regions milk production for the first eight months of the season was up by point five of a percent. Meat and horticulture exports have also taken a hit with revenue from meat down by $220 million and horticulture by $110 million. The as yet unknown factor says the report is the fate of the NZ dollar which has already weakened since the beginning of this year. MPI says should the weakening in our key agricultural commodity prices continue to worsen, they would expect further adjustments in the NZ$ to help offset some of these effects for primary sector exporters. And MPI warns further revisions downward in future forecasts are likely.


cessor says its supply chain is being managed tightly around the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. Open Country Dairy chief executive Steve Koekemoer says so far the outbreak hasn’t impacted demand for its products. “Our products have continued to move rel-

ative freely into market. “Clearly, we share the concern within the industry regarding ongoing disruption with availability of containers and potential restrictions at ports going forward. “With us heading into the tail end of the season, we expect the short-term impact to be minor and with that are turning our focus to next season.”

Koekemoer says dairy pricing has come under pressure over the past few weeks due to the Covid-19 impact but with the limited supply due to the dry weather, OCD is maintaining its current forecast. OCD will hold supplier meetings later this month where farmers will be updated on the impact of coronavirus.


4 //  NEWS

Expect more acute events – O’Connor PETER BURKE peterb@ruralnews.co.nz

PREPAREDNESS FOR dealing with acute

adverse climatic events is going to have to be a part of mainstream farm practice, says Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor. With climate change, farmers can expect more acute events and the challenge will be dealing with them. He says some farmers are already doing this through good planning and management and others will need to do the same His comments follow his decision to declare a medium size adverse event in the Gisborne, Manawatu, Rangitikei and Tararua districts. Already there have been similar declarations in Northland and the Waikato. The declaration means that $150,000 will be made available to support rural people through local

Feed is becoming a major issue for drought-stricken farmers.

organisations such as Rural Support Trust “Generally the whole of the top of the North Island is dry and it’s spread slowly south and the Tararua and Rangitikei are also now very dry with most of the farmers struggling with a lack of feed. In the Gisborne district, Ngatapa, Rere and north of Tolaga Bay have received little rain with dams running dry, feed

availability low and farmers facing long delays in getting stock to the works. In the Tararua district, the extremely dry summer has affected river levels and particularly hit some areas near the Ruahine ranges that normally receive better summer rainfall. Stock water supplies as well as domestic and municipal water supplies have come under

extreme pressure.” O’Connor says it’s now very bad in the Waikato and farmers are facing challenges in getting cull cows killed due to demand for space at freezing works caused by the corona virus crisis. He says the meat companies are aware of this problem and are working collaboratively to mitigate the situation - in some cases they are resorting to using

refrigerated containers to store meat. “The good news is that the blockages at the Chinese end is starting to free up. We have heard of blockages at one port where they hadn’t been able to shift some of the meat, but that is starting to move now and while it is certainly not back to normal, things are starting to move in the right direction,” he says. O’Connor says he’s aware that farmers are having to buy in feed – something they would not normally do this time of the year. He says other may have difficulty sourcing feed, but he says Federated Farmers is working on this issue and doing a good job. Despite the challenges being faced by the farming sector there is no thought of making direct payments to them – rather the approach being to channel assistance through Rural Support Trusts and the like.

FEED PINCH IN MANY DISTRICTS DAIRYNZ’S ROB Brazendale says the situation in some parts of area is quite serious. He says farmers in the Tararua and Rangitikei areas are the worst hit. But he says Taranaki is dry but not too bad at this stage and south of Palmerston North in the Horowhenua there are not too many signs of a drought. But in the worst hit areas, Brazendale says pasture cov-

ers are much lower than normal for this time of the year, crops are finished and a lot of farmers are starting to run out of silage. He says normally they would turn to PKE as an alternative, but they are under pressure to restrict their use of this. “A lot of farmers are already on once a day milking or have started to dry cows off. From what I have heard, the maize crop has not been good and

it appears that farmers have been harvesting it early to get what they can from the crop,” he says. There is the potential for a feed pinch in many districts, but Brazendale emphasises that it is still only early March and if the rain comes soon and soil temperatures remain warm, then the season could quickly pick up. “So we could still get good growth through April/May and

could go into winter in a good position.” he says. In terms of morale Brazendale says farmers seen to be coping with the drought and also the corona\virus situation. But he says what continues to concern them is the threats of climate change policy, zero carbon and other environmental policies which are in the pipeline. @dairy_news facebook.com/dairynews


that Overseer can become a valid regulatory tool, despite the announcement last week of a high-powered panel appointed to review the software. The first part of the review will look at Overseer’s suitability as a decision-making and regulatory tool, and the panel is expected to report back on that by the end of the year. Farmers have long voiced concerns that the software, originally promoted as a planning tool for them, was increasingly being eyed by regulatory bodies as a potential compliance tool. Feds’ water and environment spokesman, Chris Allen, said the review was very timely and long overdue. “We need to know what its strengths and weaknesses are, given that no-one really gets to look under the bonnet into how it really works.” Allen said he was not knocking Overseer. It did a good job of benchmarking “what-if” scenarios but gave differing results with frequent updates and changing models. He questioned whether it could come up with “a single number” for regulatory purposes. “What sort of signal is it sending farmers or land users when the number you got five years ago has no relevance to the number you get today?” Allen said a lot of data inputting had to be done with “workarounds” to get meaningful results. “We would probably take a lot of convincing. We’d say it would be quite a few years away until it would be an appropriate thing to have as a regulatory tool,” he said. “After all, water quality will not improve because of Overseer; it will improve because of practises on the ground.” A joint announcement from the Ministries for the Environment and Primary Industries said the review was a major part of efforts to improve decision-making tools for use on-farm. “The eight independent and internationallyrecognised environmental specialists will look ‘under the bonnet’ of Overseer to critically assess its modelling capability and explore potential improvements for its use,” said Ministry for the Environment deputy secretary, water and climate change, Cheryl Barnes. “The panel’s conclusions and assessments will be critical to New Zealand’s future approach to land management. We must be confident that Overseer is the right tool to drive sound land management decisions and improve freshwater quality.” The panel is expected to meet first on March 30 and report back by the end of the year on the first part of the review – Nigel Malthus

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NEWS  // 5

Rural water faces nitrate risk NIGEL MALTHUS


across Canterbury are the ones at most risk of the health effects of nitrates in their drinking water, says Canterbury medical officer of health Alistair Humphrey. Speaking at the recent Lincoln conference of the Organic Dairy and Pastoral Group, he said farming families were the people whose drinking water most likely comes from shallow private bores – the ones most often contaminated with high nitrate levels. Humphrey has been vocal for some years about the risk of potentially fatal blue baby syndrome, caused by ingested nitrates interfering with oxygen transport in the blood. Mothers in highrisk areas of the Canterbury Plains are regularly advised to have their water supply tested and, if they cannot breastfeed, to use only bottled water to make up formula. However, Humphrey told the conference there was also a suspected link to colorectal cancer in adults. A recent Danish study

of 2.7 million people across the whole country looked at nitrates in the drinking water and at colorectal cancer risk. Although there were other risk factors such as eating red or smoked meats, the study was big enough to smooth out dietary and socioeconomic factors, said Humphrey. “They were able to say that there was a statistically significant risk of colorectal cancer from nitrates in your drinking water and that that risk began at a relatively low level, lower than half our current MAV (Maximum Acceptable Value, 11.3 milligrams per litre).” Humphrey said boiling water does not remove nitrates – rather it concentrates them. Removing them from drinking water would require expensive ion-exchange or reverse osmosis systems. “So this this is a worrying situation, not just for the council but for everybody in the region. “We have one of the highest rates of colorectal cancer. That’s a tragedy for us but it may also be an opportunity in terms of research. We want to know why this is happening. We have high

$12 MILLION DROUGHT ASSISTANCE PRIME MINISTER Jacinda Ardern has got into the act over the drought by announcing a major new relief package in Northland. Last week she visited Northland with ministers to announce a $12 million assistance package. She says the rural sector across the North Island is currently doing it tough with significant and sustained droughts in many areas. The PM says water is running low across the board – for drinking supplies, the primary sector and firefighting storage – and help is need to get communities through this. The $12 million package includes $10 million for what the government calls ‘immediate needs’ such as delivering water for consumption, sanitation, wastewater systems, stock welfare and horticulture. It will also include $421,000 to extend the reach of rural assistance payments – which can be used to buy water and $2 million to support farmers and growers in drought hit areas across the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands It seems this latest package is not only designed to help farmers and horticulturalists but also to ensure that all rural communities have plentiful supplies of water which would be needed in the event of any outbreak of corona virus where personal hygiene would be a key factor. – Peter Burke

and increasing rates of nitrates all over the country and we’ve got high and increasing rates of cancer. That doesn’t mean they’re linked but we need to investigate that.” Meanwhile, Environment Canterbury mapping of nitrate levels between 2011 and 2015 showed blue areas which were

low in nitrates had disappeared, and the red areas which are high in nitrates had gotten bigger. Nitrate contamination was also getting into lower aquifers, not just shallow rural bores. “It threatens not just private bores, but in due course we’re likely to see increases in our commu-

nities,” said Humphrey. Christchurch water, for example, was not high in nitrates at all but that was likely going to change. “We used to think, well it’s just blue babies and it’s very rare so let’s look after our rural community, those who are in shallow bores, and that will be enough.”

Dr Alister Humphrey


6 //  NEWS

Fewer farms changing hands NIGEL MALTHUS

JUST TWO dairy farms have changed hands in Canterbury/North Otago in the current season, according to the just-released Colliers Dairy Property Market Review for 2020. The report author, Collier International director of rural valuation Greg Petersen, said while it was now late in the season, he was aware of other “conversations” going on between would-be buyers and sellers and the year could end up with eight or nine sales: compared with 14 last year and a usual tally of 30-35 a year. “Despite a relatively strong milksolid payout and favourable spring and summer conditions to date, Canterbury dairy market sentiment is currently at a low ebb. There is an overall theme of uncertainty within the current market which has resulted in a dearth of sales,” said the report. There was no shortage of dairy farms listed for sale. “This suggests that there is currently a disconnect between the price that a vendor is willing to accept for a

farm and the price that a purchaser is prepared to offer.” The generally glum report noted that liquidity in the market had appeared to dry up, and the number of vendors wishing to sell for genuine reasons, such as life events including retirement, is heavily outweighed by those who are being “encouraged” to sell. “As the complexity of dairy farming is increasing every year under the weight of increased external compliance, farmers are spending more time in the office and less time on the land, we are aware of a group of vendors who are genuinely looking to exit the industry because the enjoyment is no longer there. This is further compounded by the negative perception of the dairy industry in some sectors of the wider public.” The report noted three distressed sales of dairy farms in the region in the past 12 months (including some of the previous season). Many dairy farmers had seen their equity reduce, and banking conditions had changed, with most banks now requiring both principal and interest payments.

“Hard conversations are currently being held between bankers and farmers about their equity position, with some farmers actively encouraged to bring their properties to the market, if a clear plan forward cannot be found. “In the case of the distressed sales, the eventual sale price of all three properties appeared to be based upon the next best alternative land use, rather than their continued use for dairying.” The report said buyers were scarce. When international purchasers were active in the market, it gave others confidence and also provided a trickledown effect of outside money instead

of debt. “With confidence low throughout the industry, we are not currently seeing any demand from farmers wishing to move into Canterbury.” Nutrient reductions under the Canterbury Land and Water Regional Plan were now being felt, in the form of uncertainty around future milksolid production, and there were no longer purchasers looking to dairy conversions. Much of the growth in Canterbury dairy land values over the past two decades had come through a ready availability of capital, but banks, under

pressure from the Reserve Bank, are now requiring the repayment of the additional debt accumulated during the low-payout years between 2014 and 2016. As loans have come up for review, banking covenants have been introduced to provide for the amortization of debt over a period of 20 years, with both interest and principal now payable. “We are aware that some banks are actively trying to rebalance their lending book away from higher risk dairy debt. “This has led to a liquidity constraint within the Canterbury dairy market, restricting the ability of buyers to access debt funding to enable the purchase of properties.” However, Petersen told Dairy News that it was a dynamic market with a lot of forces at play. “There are actually a number of reasons why you would be positive. The milk price is positive and all expectations are that it should remain so. And interest rates are currently low. “Although there are potential clouds on the horizon, there is always that uncertainty.”


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NEWS  // 7

Regenerative farming ‘working wonders for Oz farmers’ NIGEL MALTHUS

AUSTRALIAN FARMERS who have already

embraced regenerative farming are much more profitable than conventional farmers, says soil microbiologist Dr Walter Jehne. They are getting 100% yield on 20% of the inputs, as well as resilience in the face of climatic extremes, he says. “We’re still getting crops four years out of five reliably under these more resilient systems, compared to two years out of five under the conventional systems.” Jehne, a former CSIRO Climate Scientist and Microbiologist, and founder of Healthy Soils Australia, was the main international speaker at the recent 2020 conference of the Organic Dairy and Pastoral Group at Lincoln, which drew about 200 attendees from around the country. The ODPG organised the conference on the theme of ‘The Regenerative Soil Solution’ - adopting a whole-ecosystems approach to farming by mimicking natural processes rather than trying to control or suppress them. Jehne said humanity faces major challenges, with 10 billion people expected by mid-century. “There’s seven missed meals between social stability and chaos. So it’s really quite serious. “And the beautiful news is yeah, we can do it. We can do it naturally and safely and rapidly within 10 years.” Jehne explained that the original creation of soil – the process of pedogenesis – was done by fungi colonising bare rock 20 million years ago, eventually leading to the biosystems we now depend on. “The fungi that colonized that rock solubilized it and mixed mineral detritus and organic detritus to make a sponge. And

that allowed that rock or that detritus to infiltrate, retain water, make nutrients available, allow roots to penetrate. “Really it’s that same process. How do we actually accelerate microbial breakdown and creation of sponge infiltration, nutrient availability, biodiversity etc, and how we can accelerate that naturally in our farming practices.” Jehne said we have gone “fundamentally wrong” since the second world war by cultivation, fertilizing and biocides, breaking down the natural structure of soils. Jehne said the task now was to regenerate the soil. Farmers should “basically go with whatever nature did.” “Look and study nature in your area and basically minimize the harmful inputs. “At the moment we’re doing a lot of destructive things to soils – cultivating, oxidizing carbon, over-fertilization, biocides killing the actual organisms that are creating and driving nutritive availability solubilization etc. “So we’re doing a lot of destructive things and being forced, in replacement of each of those, to put more and more inputs into the system.” Those were all major input costs, so using natural processes instead would make for minimal input agriculture. Instead of cultivation there were techniques of cover-cropping and companion planting, including what he called “jackhammer plants” with deep roots that open the soil. Instead of fertilizer were natural processes of nutrient fixation, solubilization, access, uptake and cycling. “90% of the productivity and biofertility of soils depends on these microbial processes and we can switch them on again, then we don’t need to add these vast amounts of nutrients.”

It would also help turn around climate change. “[Atmospheric carbon] is increasing but we can

Jehne said it was “absolutely” possible to turn things around in 10 years.

use it as a resource, put it back into our soils and in that, rebuild the health of these farming systems.”

Walter Jehne

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Cream of the crop NORTHLAND lenges for the Adairs, as did realising the challenges of the weather variances of Northland farming. “Being under Notice of Directions for MBovis twice and slaughtering 137 animals (who all proved negative) as a result was also very challenging,” says Charlie.


Share Farmers of the Year Charlie and Emma Adair have gone one better than last year. The Adairs were runners-up in the same category last year and believe the Awards programme allowed them to identify the strengths and weaknesses of their business. “We’ve looked at every aspect of our business in such detail,” they say. “The process allowed us to see the full picture of what we had and how we would achieve our future equity growth targets.” In 2015 the couple moved to New Zealand from the UK where Charlie managed a 300-cow dairy farm. “We saw the opportunities to prog-

The Adairs are proud of the equity growth made over the past 4 years, which has exceeded their original targets more than they every thought possible. “We’ve made exceptionally quick progression through the industry since arriving in New Zealand in 2015,” says Emma

(24). “Charlie’s first role was as a 2IC in Rotorua, while I relief milked, then we jointly managed our current farm during the 2017/18 season.” “Gaining residency in 2018 has enabled us to begin contract milking here.” The Adairs contract milk for Dean and AnneMaree Adams on their

275ha, 800-cow Whangarei farm. Charlie holds a Diploma in Agriculture (UK), while Emma is completing a Level 5 Agribusiness Diploma. The other major Northland are Dairy Manager of the Year Sheena Waru, and the Dairy Trainee of the Year Poutama Toto.

staff and a tremendous culture and are ready for the next phase.” Adam (31) holds a National Diploma in Civil Engineering and has gained PrimaryITO Level 4. He loves the constant challenges and need for problem-solving on-farm, while Maria (35) enjoys the lifestyle dairy farming provides and that Adam

can be involved with the family. Future farming goals include contract milking over all farms owned by their current farm owners and with an ultimate goal of buying into the farms by 2025. “We’re proud that we have the confidence to grow and develop a large business in an industry that is under constant scrutiny and at a point in time where confidence and morale seem to be low,” say the couple. “One of our greatest strengths is our scale. It has many positives, one of the biggest being that it allows us to work on our business rather than in it.” Other big winners are Andre Meier, the 2020 Bay of Plenty Dairy Manager of the Year, and Jacob Maxwell, the 2020 Bay of Plenty Dairy Trainee of the Year.

David and Katy believe another strength of their business lies in human resources. “We enjoy having a happy work environment and take pleasure from helping others progress,” they say. The couple say dairy

farming is all they have ever wanted to do. “It’s all that I know,” says David. Chance Church was named 2020 Central Plateau Dairy Manager of the Year, and Emily Cooper, the 2020 Central Plateau Dairy Trainee of the Year.

BAY OF PLENTY ress here in comparison to the very few opportunities that arose in the UK,” says Charlie (25). “We now contract milk, manage the run-off for that farm: and have a lease-to-buy agreement on another property about 10 minutes away.

“We would never have been able to achieve that in the UK, especially in such a short amount of time.” Creating a new life on the other side of the world and learning the New Zealand way of farming provided unique chal-

2020 BAY OF Plenty Dairy Industry Awards, Adam and Maria Barkla, hope their win will portray dairy farming as a professional career choice for young people leaving school, instead of a ‘last resort profession’. Adam and Maria are contract milkers for Robin and Claire Barkla on their 490ha, 1720-cow Galatea property and won $8550 in prizes and six merit awards. “We have a close relationship with our farm owners and because of this have aligned goals, which makes setting farm policies and KPIs very easy,” say the couple. “We both know where we are and where we want to go.” Adam grew up around dairy farming however it wasn’t until 2013 that the couple made it their career, moving into contract milking in 2015.

The Barkla’s acknowledge their rapid growth is also one of their greatest challenges. “Over the past five years we have worked really hard to develop systems through networking and educating ourselves,” says Adam. “The dairy industry is unique in that everyone is willing to help anyone – we now have amazing


passionate about jersey cows, animal health and helping others progress have won the 2020 Central Plateau Share Farmer of the Year. David Noble and Katy Jones are 50/50 sharemilking 275 cows on Andrew and Hazel Kusabs’ 94ha Horohoro property and won $15,180 in prizes and two merit awards. With a background in dairy and sheep farming in the United Kingdom, David (34) arrived in New Zealand in 2012 from the United Kingdom with $4500 and a suitcase and is proud that he worked his way into sharemilking within two years. He

holds a Bachelor of Science (Hons) Agriculture and is in his sixth season 50:50 sharemilking. Katy (32) is a Veterinarian and the couple consider animal health a strength of their business and a passion. The couple entered the Awards to learn more about their business and how they can improve it physically and financially, as well as meet and network with like-minded farmers. While the low pay-out in their first two years of sharemilking was challenging, they persevered and future farming goals include farm ownership and having a bull accepted into an AB team.


NEWS  // 9

Climate change deals ‘too complicated’ PETER BURKE peterb@ruralnews.co.nz

BOTH POLICY makers and scientists are struggling to deal with the issues of climate change and green house gas emissions according to international scientists Professor Bob Rees, Scotland Rural College. Rees told Dairy News when he was in NZ recently that part of the problem is the very high level policy agreements that governments have signed up to such as the Paris agreement. He says national policy makers are trying to implement the consequences of that agreement, but he says he doesn’t think they have worked through the details and how these might apply to individual sectors such as agriculture. “We need to know a lot more about what agriculture needs to do,” he says. Rees believes there is a misconception of where the emissions are coming from and having a plan that that can be rolled out to farmers to tell them what they can do to reduce emissions on their

farms. He says one easy way to reduce emissions is for farmers to be more efficient which will reduce their costs and reduce emissions but he points out that this is a complex issue and education and training needs to be provided. “Often there is inertia in the farming sector because people want to do what they have always done and doing things differently is not always attractive. So I think the farming industry needs support from people such as policy advisors, farm advisors and researchers to implement some of the technologies that are available,” he says. But all that aside, Rees believes that in some areas of farming change is inevitable and he believes in some areas it will be painful. He says in the UK it’s widely known that a large proportion of emissions come from livestock and that some of the farmers are inefficient and are being propped up by subsidies. “So in some cases we are subsiding a sector that isn’t producing very much food, but is producing a lot of green house gases. Now I think we have to target that and

CHANGING DIETS AN ISSUE THERE HAS been much talk about the need for people to eat less meat as part of a global plan to keep livestock numbers at a sustainable level. Professor Bob Rees points out that meat consumption in China and India is growing rapidly as their economies become more sophisticated. “The trajectory of meat consumption in both those countries is steep and that is not compatible with the planetary resources that we have. If China and India were to reach the level of meat consumption that we have in Europe and America, we would need another two planets to support it. We just haven’t got the land,” he says. In other parts of the world meat consumption varies and he says it is more a health issue. Rees says based on World Health Organisation (WHO) data many people eat too much meat and eating less would benefit their health and produce less carbon. But he has a positive view of the dairy industry. He says dairy in some parts of the world like the UK Ireland and NZis using grass to produce protein in way humans couldn’t do. “So humans can’t eat grass and derive protein from it, whereas cattle can. So dairy production is a rational thing to do.”

say well that is probably not the right way of managing that land and there are other land uses such as forestry which will be more profitable that will also cut carbon. But I also concede that

in some areas we can simply improve efficiency and provide some carbon technologies and inhibitors that will help reduce emissions and we can carry on doing some of the things we are doing

already,” he says. Rees rejects the notion that farming is being unfairly targeted saying that other sectors such as transport are equally unhappy about the way they are being treated.

Professor Bob Rees

Drive efficiency with GEA CowScout “You can’t argue with data; it’s been key to better efficiency and more days in milk” – Brad Payne, Cambridge GEA’s CowScout tags monitor cows 24 hours a day, providing highly accurate data on heat detection, eating and rumination. Brad Payne manages 800 cows on a 275ha pasture-based system with 3 staff. Every cow is tagged with CowScout and automatically drafted when on heat or showing abnormal eating activity.

CowScout has enabled them to spend less time on Artifical Insemination with much better results. They also treat cows for mastitis or metabolic disorders before they look sick. And 1 person milks morning and evening. Want efficiency? Get in touch with GEA. gea.com/drive-dairy-efficiency




Questionable future

MILKING IT... Bein’ green

Fake Milo

KERMIT THE Frog was the first sing “it’s not easy being green”. Now the Muppets in the Green Party are finding out how true that is. Ridiculed as hypocrites for clocking up obscene air miles during what they describe as a “climate emergency”; treated like doormats by their coalition partners who have knocked back most of the key Green pet projects, Milking It reckons they must sympathise with the frog. But were they on the right track with their now-dead electric car policy? A new study by the International Energy Agency (IEA) shows that even if the number of electric cars grows from the current 5 million (0.3% of the global fleet) to 130 million in 10 years, emissions would be reduced by a mere 0.4% of global emissions. As academic and author Bjorn Lomborg wrote in a New Zealand newspaper last week, “EVs...will not be a major part of the solution to climate change. [They] are simply expensive gadgets heavily subsidised for the wealthy to feel good while doing very little for the planet.”

STILL ON things green. The world’s biggest dairy processor Nestle is launching plantbased versions of some of its most-loved global brands. That now includes the world’s leading cocoa malt beverage, Milo. Nestlé Australia says it is introducing a plant-based version of the famous powder that was first introduced in 1934. The new Milo replaces milk powder with soy and oats. The core ingredients are the same as the original Milo – malt, barley and cocoa. Nestle says the Milo development team worked hard to make sure it kept the same unmistakable chocmalt taste and iconic crunch that that Australians have grown up with. Wonder how Oz milo lovers would react?

Red seaweed FARMERS IN Australia are experimenting with adding seaweed to cattle feed in order to stop cows producing as much methane. Methane — which is nearly 30 times stronger than carbon dioxide — is a gas produced by cows that is known to be harmful to the planet. Scientists from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have created an additive made from red seaweed, known as FutureFeed. Adding just a small amount of FutureFeed to the cow’s food is estimated to reduce methane production by as much as 80%. The red seaweed grows naturally in the waters of Australia and is also now being farmed in a number of other countries.

Vegan milk service IN MARCH the first national milk delivery service will be coming to British doorsteps, a clear sign that veganism is on the rise in the United Kingdom. One opinion survey suggested that 3.5 million Brits, around 5% of the population, now identify as vegan and avoid consuming or using animal by-products. Their motivations range from worries about animal welfare to considerations about human health and a concern that methane emissions from cattle are contributing significantly to climate change. Richard Eckersley, co-director of ReRooted, the company launching the new doorstep delivery service, refuses to drink cow’s milk for ethical reasons. “I don’t think we should be impregnating cows and then taking their milk away from their babies,”

THE WORD uncertainty has taken on a new meaning for farmers in the past six months. New environmental legislation is coming at them from all different directions, Boris Johnson, the UK Prime Minister, has added to their woes with his version of Brexit which provides little comfort in terms of our future exports there and to Europe. Then Mr Twitter, or it is call me unpredictable, also known as Donald Trump, has thrown the niceties of world trade out of the cot and now we have a drought. Oh and we have coronavirus – again where this will end up, heaven alone knows. It seems we are now living in a world where the unpredictable is the norm along with volatility and turmoil. The trouble is that most of this is beyond farmers’ control. In some ways you can plan for a drought or a flood or any adverse weather event – maybe even a biosecurity event – but when it comes to trade issues and the likes of coronavirus, down on the farm there is nothing that you can do except listen to the media reports and hope. This would be one of the difficult and challenging times the sector has faced for many years. It comes when there is pressure on farmers to take action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to improve water quality but if export prices fall these things will not happen. Not only will farmers be hit, but this will be the moment when the wider public suddenly find out that we are a primary industry based country and that our wealth comes from the land. It will be a time when farmers are going to have to be resilient like they have never been before. The pioneering genes will have to come to the fore. While the situation is not bright, this is not the time to give up. Disasters have been overcome in the past and a major reason why this has happened is because leaders have inspired people to be positive. It was once said that Winston Churchill’s greatest contribution to WWII was to ‘mobilise the English language and send it into battle’ – look what happened!

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OPINION  // 11

Is dilution part of the solution? mythbuster article in (DairyNZ’s monthly publication) Inside Dairy questions whether dilution is the solution and cast a bunch of aspersions on whether increasing production per cow or per ha would dilute costs and improve profitability. It also questioned whether higher production made it easier to repay debt. There is no question that increasing production per cow dilutes the cow’s maintenance requirements on a per kg MS basis and as long as the extra milk produced adds to the profit, it will increase the overall profitability. Each additional milk solid may cost more to produce than the previous MS, but so long as it still adds to the profit, one should keep increasing production. The notion that all MS produced cost the same average farm working expense (FWE) and that lowest average FWE/ kg MS maximises overall profitability is an incorrect concept unique to the NZ dairy industry. The average FWE per MS is not the same as the marginal cost or the cost to produce the additional MS. Furthermore, farm working expenses do not include interest which is now the biggest single cost item to the indebted NZ farmer. I regularly see farmers switch from low input systems with lower FWE/kg MS but with the highest interest cost per MS, to higher input systems. Other costs are mainly determined by the number of cows. These costs tend to be affected more by the number of cows rather than production per cow. Examples are wintering costs, grazing and calf rearing costs, animal health, breeding and arguably most of the wages unless using a contract-milker. These costs can also be diluted on a per MS basis with

nomic principles have been ignored in NZ for so long, is a complete mystery. If supplements are used correctly, to improve

production per cow rather than carrying more cows, dilution will most likely be part of the solution. This has been my experience in the past 30 odd

years no matter the country. • Howard de Klerk is the founder of Dairy Nutrition and Management Solutions Ltd

Howard de Klerk



improved production per cow. Some variable costs are more affected by production directly. Examples are supplements, electricity, vehicles and fuel, shed expenses, repairs and maintenance and DNZ levies etc. These variable cost items are likely to increase with increased production through the use of more supplements. Excluding the cost of the supplement, these variable costs are not major cost items. The Mythbuster article refers to published data that shows that “most overheads increase with increased use of supplement, so no win there, either. “This is very misleading. The Irish data* referred to, showed that the costs PER HA did increase with increased use of supplements, in fact, the other variable costs increased 1.53 x the cost of the supplement on a PER HA basis. The scientists conveniently ignored the other half of the story. Increasing use of supplements also increased production, in fact from 9,401 L per ha to 11,736 L per ha. The so-called hidden costs that increased by 53% on a /ha basis, did not increase on a /L basis and remained constant at 16c/l. The only costs that changed on a per L basis was the cost of the extra feed. Any increase in variable cost on a per litre basis was insignificant and more than offset by the extra production. The conclusion that hidden costs will rise by 50% or more than the cost of the supplement (on a per MS basis) is therefore totally incorrect and unfounded. If the additional MS adds to the profit i.e. costs less to produce than the milk price, it will add to overall profitability. I will pay to increase production even if the average FWE/kg MS increases. This is the basis of the economic principle known as marginal analysis. How these basic eco-


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Know your soil before your farm TONY JOSEPH

FOR A farmer, the soil is

the base of everything you do. How much time, however, should you spend tending to your soil to make sure it remains in the best condition to produce quality feed for your animals? To get the most from your land, it’s important to understand your soil and treat it correctly. Do so, and you will be rewarded with high-quality feed to raise happy and healthy stock – making your farming experience more profitable and enjoyable. Healthy soil allows air to circulate and water to seep through it. Plants growing in healthy soil have dense root mass meaning more access to soil nutrients, air and water. Plants growing with a deep root system are also more likely to

To get the most from your land, it’s important to understand your soil and treat it correctly. remain resilient under dry conditions and return to full life when conditions improve. In healthy soil, plants utilise nutrients well and achieve quality production with full yield potential. To achieve and maintain soil health, one must first have a thorough understanding of its present condition and then undertake an assessment of the soil’s physical, chemical and biological components. Following this analysis, farmers must take effective steps to improve soil quality to achieve farm productivity and meet environmental goals. Assessing your soil Soil health is commonly assessed by digging a spade full of soil and examining the colour,

smell, structure and texture; as well as the roots, soil life and other organic matter present in the soil. Soil is made up of sand, silt and clay, and the variation in the proportion of these components will determine the textural class of the soil. To quickly understand the soil type on your land, you can take a small amount of dry soil and add water to see how solid it becomes when squeezing it in your hand. If your soil remains loose and falls apart you have more sandy or coarse textured soil. Whereas, if rubbed, a fine-textured clay soil will usually create a long ribbon, while silty soil feels smooth and can form easily into balls or other shapes in your hand. Soil texture will

Tony Joseph, Terra Care Fertilisers.

influence the available water-holding capacity, water movement through the soil, soil strength, how easily pollutants can leach into groundwater, and the natural soil fertility. For example, coarsetextured soils have large pores making it highly permeable, which allow the water to move rapidly through the pore system. Keeping soil healthy To keep the soil healthy, good structure is required as it impacts many soil functions like soil aeration, storage and transmission of water, nutrient cycling, root growth, susceptibility to soil erosion and nutrient loss. Soil structure refers to how particles of soil are grouped together by physical, chemical, and biological processes and is an important component in forming fine soil aggregates: a term used to describe groups of

soil particles that bind to each other more strongly than to adjacent particles. Soil organic matter and soil life also support the formation of aggregates. They create a larger number of pores within and between aggregates, making the soil more friable and crumbling. These pores maintain the correct balance of air and water to support the existence of soil organisms like microbes and earthworms and create the right environment for plant roots to grow and search for plant nutrients. If the soil is lacking in nutrients, then it’s important to apply fertiliser which contains the necessary chemicals that the soil is deficient in. It’s also important to maintain the optimal soil nutrients as per soil type, such as Olsen P (a measure of plant available phosphorus) around 20-30 mg/l

for Ash and Sedimentary soils and 30-45 mg/l for Pumice and Peat soils and minimise or avoid nutrient applications which are already present and plentiful in the soil. Understanding your farm Maintaining soil nutrient balance and correcting soil fertility are critical for optimal plant growth. It’s also important to measure the current soil nutrient status to assess whether a farm is in the maintenance or development stage. Details of soil testing, fertiliser and crop history and farm management practices are beneficial in assessing changes in the status of soil nutrients. Herbage testing always complements soil testing too, because it will help in the process of understanding the movement of nutrients from soil to plants and plants to ani-

mals. It’ll also provide a better overall picture of the farm nutrient status for an improved fertiliser programme and to keep stock healthy. Once you identify the type of soils and its characteristics at your farm, use a farm map and mark the boundary of those identified soils. By doing so, you will know the character of soil belonging to different paddocks or blocks of the farm. This is vital as it will affect your decision making on which crops will grow well, and what actions you need to take to get the most from your soil and to keep it healthy. Remember to protect and monitor your land and soil to ensure it remains healthy and productive. Managing soils can be complex and your soil’s needs will change between the seasons and depend on what crops you choose to grow. Getting the basics right, however, will set you up for success. To identify the soil types that exist on your farm, it is best to speak with local agronomists, such as Terra Care’s technical field consultants, who will be able to provide expert analysis and advise on the correct actions to take. • Dr Tony Joseph heads product research and development at Terra Care.

AGRIFEEDS BOOSTS BLENDING CAPACITY FEED COMPANY, Agrifeeds has commissioned two new blending facilities in the North Island. The new blending facilities in New Plymouth and Marsden Point, Whangarei have been built alongside storage warehouses that were completed late last year. Agrifeeds have started the new decade in a strong position, having invested significantly in new blending and storage facilities to help increase their nutritional offer to customers. The Marsden Point facility will service Northland, while the New Plymouth operation will service the Taranaki and lower North Island regions. Agrifeeds general manager Braden Waite says the new Marsden Point facility has four times

the storage capacity of the previous store in Whangarei. “The new precision blending operations will help us continue to meet the growing needs of our customers through the consistent blending of multiple products, the addition of value-added products such as Molasses and FeedXtra, and of course, the safe and consistent addition of minerals into their blends, such as Forti-Min,” says Waite. The New Plymouth precision blender, located at Port Taranaki, has been designed to ensure the thorough blending of all products used in each custom blend, so customers receive their product fully blended from the moment it enters the truck. Agrifeeds has also invested in

the precision blender’s surrounding infrastructure involving the storage of the products. This means continuous blending can be achieved, ensuring fast turnaround of trucks and an increased complexity of blends with minimal dust, while ensuring a safe working environment for Agrifeeds operators and transport providers. “Additionally, our commissioning of a Double Agitator Mixer at New Plymouth means Agrifeeds can offer customers a cost effective PKE/Molasses blend without having to transport it down from the Agrifeeds Tauranga site, significantly reducing the ex-store price per Metric Tonne (MT),” says Waite. @dairy_news facebook.com/dairynews



Getting smarter at growing grass Trewithen is a 288ha farm with 1100 cows in New Plymouth, owned by the Faull Family from Waitara. In his third season, sharemilker and Ravensdown shareholder James Barbour takes us through the farm’s approach to nutrient management.

work with – everything is planned. For example, we’ll talk about which paddocks to plant maize or other crops in and, as the farm is on Hawkeye, we can look at the maps online and discuss what needs to be done. If any paddocks need more testing, he just gets it done. Hawkeye also captures the paddock areas and fertiliser history which all help with decision making. James always has everything well planned - frequently it’s just a matter of texts and phone calls to sort out what is happening.

out the areas which don’t applied as fertiliser. We need fertiliser such as do our own fertiliser around troughs, gates and spreading and have two Ravensdown silos: one for the like. There’s pride in the mixes and one for coated environmental efforts like urea such as N-Prothe riparian strips and tect. Part of our prodthe 1,500 trees planted uct policy in the summer is to switch to N-Protect as it starts warmJames Barbour (left), ing up. With with James Livingston, Ravensdown. less being lost, ■■ Benefits of N-Protect coated urea we can put on ■■ Apply less. Lose less. trips and have the odd near our run-off lower rates of ■■ Less rain dependent ■■ Ultimately less greenhouse gases high-profile guest come to areas. We organN and there’s look around. ise plenty of school definitely a potential saving in there.  We organised all-padFEED SYSTEMS SINCE 1962 dock testing with Ravensdown when I started so we knew what needed to go where. It was a week from soil testing until maps and plans were received and we have done it twice now which gives us great paddock fertility information. It is an upfront cost, but it’s been recouped. Recording tests and spreading data in the HawkEye software tool is helpful. Seeing paddock history helps us to get the best out of each one.  HawkEye also allows the owner to feel like he can stay in touch by seeing those actions being taken from anywhere in the world. By walking the farm, we can see the ‘hungry Supreme quality stainless steel feed trays / Exceptional back-up support / Easy to use and maintain paddocks’ which generFirst class installations / Robust construction / Skiold Disc Mills ally match pretty well Grain Holding Silos / Utility Augers / Mobile Auger to the soil test results. Spreading our own fertiliser enables us to leave



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WE COVER a large area, so paddock variability is an important issue for us. If we just apply a blanket rate without testing or targeting, the costs mount up very quickly because of the scale of the operation. We’re milking all year around with various winter run-offs. We have an ambitious target of 600,000kg MS. Our focus is on growing more grass, taking care of the animals and becoming increasingly efficient. And we’ve managed to cut our stocking rate while increasing production. This is a very public farm just outside of town and on the main highway. The community rightly expects us to be on top of our game. We can’t afford to compromise cow health or environmental performance. We’re putting 180 units of nitrogen on throughout the year. Volatilisation is a real risk when you’re not getting the rain at the right time. It’s one thing to be forecasting 10-20mm, but it’s another to get that amount coming down in this area, which is a drier part of Taranaki. The solution We have a large effluent pond and we use the effluent instead of fertiliser on a proportion of the farm. The soil tests enable us to check that the correct amounts are going on and if any extra is required, this can be

The people Being in the third year out of five is the sweet spot where we know what works and are making little changes. The trust and relationship with the owner is vital. I have a great partnership with my brotherin-law Jason Groot. It’s all about progression getting better at what we do. The goal is to keep learning with a view of farm ownership one day.  The farm benefits from the strong support of Ravensdown’s James Livingston. He’s really easy to



Jersey breed on the rise A FARMER group promoting Jersey cows says stock and semen sales indicate the breed is on the rise. Jersey Advantage chairman Ben Watson says the economic benefits of the Jersey breed are undeniable. “We’re seeing the

market respond to that.” The group says it’s a sentiment that Ross Riddell, general manager of Link Livestock agrees with. “Demand for Jersey herds and stock lines have been significantly ahead this season, and we’re getting good interest in sur-

plus in-calf Jersey stock,” says Riddell. “Prices for in-milk stock are at least as high as the other breeds but in many cases higher due to shortage in supply. “The drought conditions in many areas may exacerbate the problem and push prices higher

with farmers not in a feed position to carry surplus in-calf cows through to the end of the season for other farmers to purchase.” LIC, who supply semen to around 80% of the industry, also experienced an increase in Jersey semen sales this

season. Jersey sales of LIC’s flagship AB product – Premier Sires – ended the season 2% ahead of last year at 14% while their frozen product was also up 2% to 21% of total frozen straws. With increased demand for Jersey semen

Ben Watson, dairy farmer and Jersey Advantage committee chair, farms 1,700 Jersey and Jersey X cows across three dairy farms in Walton and Piopio.

Sending unsafe to tag animals to the works? AND

Before sending

Mark the animal

Declare the animal is unsafe to tag (UTT) in your NAIT account

Ensure the unsafe to tag animal has a marking so it can be identified at the works

LIC have decided to extend their fresh sexed semen offering next season to include Jersey. All this is good news for those wanting to get more Jersey genetics in their herd, says Watson. “There’s long been acknowledgment of the ability for Jersey’s to convert feed into milksolids more efficiently than any other breed, and we’re seeing renewed interest in Jersey’s due to strong milkfat prices. All indications are that a VCR of parity to 1.2 is the new normal.” “Increasingly farmers are also becoming aware of the breed difference in pregnancy rates. This spring the majority of Jersey herds are

reporting non-pregnancy rates in the 7-12% range, whereas the typical Holstein Friesian herd is around 11-17%. This variation makes a significant difference to year-on-year replacement rates, farm carbon emissions and the cost of rearing young stock,” says Watson. The Jersey breed also has the advantage when it comes to those wanting A2 animals. “Around 60% of the Jersey population carry the A2A2 gene, compared to 44% for Holstein Friesian and 53% for crossbreeds,” says Watson. “It’s certainly something farmers should be thinking about when they make their breeding decisions next season.”

IN BRIEF More TB herds THREE MORE herds are infected with tuberculosis (TB) in Hawke’s Bay, OSPRI confirmed last week. OSPRI says individual animals in three herds previously under investigation are now confirmed as infected: there are now eight beef and three dairy herds infected. Two additional herds are also now under investigation, with DNA strain-typing and movement assessments underway. Investigations into two other herds reported earlier have now closed. A total of 53,449 animals have been tested since 1 November 2019. Just one herd has been cleared of the infection.

Need help Call the OSPRI Contact Centre 0800 482 463 Note: unsafe to tag animals moved to a meat processor will be subject to a $13 UTT levy (excl. GST) per head. Failure to comply with the conditions of the UTT exemption may result in a $400 fine per animal or prosecution.

NAIT is an OSPRI programme

J1376 NAIT Unsafe to tag exemption FA4.indd 1


17/02/2020 10:54:09 AM



Restrictions on water use DRY WEATHER conditions are putting Bay of Plenty Regional Council waterways under unusual pressure. The council says it is putting extra preparations in place to ensure the region’s waterways are well cared for if this summer’s dry weather continues. The council’s regulatory services general manager Sarah Omundsen says rules and consent conditions are in place to protect the base flows that keep local waterways healthy. But soil moisture levels are getting very low and some of the region’s rivers and streams, especially in the western Bay of Plenty, have come close to record low flows in recent weeks. “We haven’t reached the threshold for extra water restrictions yet, but we’re getting close and making preparations to act if it’s needed. “We’ve had small amounts of rain recently but need significantly more to really make a difference,” she says. At an extraordinary

Regional Council meeting this month, Omundsen told councillors that staff have increased their water and compliance monitoring efforts in response to the prolonged dry spell. Staff have also been meeting weekly with the Bay of Plenty Primary Sector Co-ordination Group, which includes agencies such as Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), Rural Support Trust, Fonterra, and NZ Kiwifruit Growers, to ensure a coordinated

response to the effects of the current prolonged period of low rainfall for the region. MPI and industry groups are offering support to farmers and growers through their networks and the Rural Support Trust 0800 number (0800 787 524). “We’ve also been in close contact with our local district and city councils to monitor how their municipal supply systems are holding up,” Omundsen said.

All of the municipal water suppliers have been encouraging people to conserve water as much as possible. Only Tauranga City and Western Bay of Plenty District

Councils have needed to put formal restrictions in place so far; in the form of a sprinkler ban for Tauranga, and a sprinkler and hose ban for Te Puke. As part of preparations, councillors approved a process for issuing Water Shortage Directions (WSD) under the Resource Management Act (s.329), at their extraordinary meeting today. “We’ve never had to use a Water Shortage Direction before and we hope we won’t have to yet. This decision means staff can be responsive, flexible and act quickly as needed based on changing weather conditions and the particular water demands, environmental and cultural values in each waterway and catchment,” Omundsen.

If water flows in a particular river or stream get too low, Regional Council can use a WSD to temporarily manage that. Direction details will be determined on a caseby-case basis, but could include actions such as staggering the timing of water takes or reducing the amount or the purposes for which people may take water from a river, stream or aquifer.   “If we do have to put a Water Shortage Direction in place, we’ll inform consent holders and water users in the affected catchments about the direction details at that time. “It would be a temporary measure until we get enough rain to restore and sustain minimum base flows. “In the meantime,

everyone can help avoid the need for new restrictions by checking for leaks, reducing water use wherever they can, and making sure they’re not taking water illegally. People should call us on our 0800 884 883 Pollution Hotline if they’re concerned about low flows or potentially illegal water takes. Information about water take consents and permitted activated levels is available at www.boprc. govt.nz/wateruse. Live monitoring data, including stream/river water levels, rainfall, ground water level and soil moisture information from Regional Council’s network of more than 100 hydrological monitoring sites is available at www. boprc.govt.nz/livemonitoring.



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A house cows can flow into anytime HERDHOME SYSTEM

people have led the business while the Pows stepped back. Pow says the couple are happy to back leading it again. “During that 20 year period many exciting people worked in advising and selling. It was during the early years the close understanding and participation with the early

adopter owners, coupled with a string of scientists led rapid change in farming methods.. “In the last few weeks I have been visiting some of our new clients: again these farmers have enthusiasm for change as they are now back in the drivers’ seat of their farms. This was great to see.

“Not one said “we are all doomed” like the butcher of Dads army.” Pow says HerdHome System is going into a new phase, matching even more closely the many ideas of loafing use, labour saving, cow and calf safety and health. Effluent collection and storage is “hands free”

HerdHomes allow the capture of effluent without rain or washwater.

with no moving parts; reapplication of effluent timed for best profit. “Farming with Herdhome Shelters of one of the higher stocked and productive farms in my area, close to both fresh


Ltd founders Tom and Kathy Pow are back at the helm of the company they founded 20 years ago. Tom Pow says for 20 years HerdHome Systems have helped farmers suit current and future rules while increasing profits to the farming businesses. Over the years three

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water and salt water areas the environmental results are interesting.” Pow says independent study results currently shows that after farming for 150 years plus, farming can still successfully exist together with nature. “Herdhomes are marching on with more and more farmers following; growing the profit and quality gap in NZ farming. “Years like this with wet winters and long hotdry summers cows love top-up feeding and shelters. Not just any type of housing but something that cows can flow into at anytime of the day or period of season. If cows need shelter then the loafing area needs to be always ready, with no fear that the area will be spoilt with effluent for use later in the season.” During 20 years the capturing the effluent without rain or wash water has lead to vast improvement to farm soil nutrients. Mucky manure spread on farms does not get washed way through soils quickly by rain or irriga-

tors as the more liquid black water would. Pow says dealing with the hundreds of owner of Herdhomes shelter there are many amazing stories. “One farmer reckoned that the Herdhomes shelter saved his life. The farm being steep to steeper had already claimed three roll-overs of his silage wagon plus a few down hill thrills. It is now no more taking silage to cows but cows come home to feed. His profit went up amazingly partly from more milk and partly from less repairs and maintenance.” “A Southland beef farmer was away from his farm when a snow storm hit, his calving beef animals were stranded and his helper on-farm couldn’t drive the mob into the eye of the storm and had to leave some on paddock. In the morning all was well with cows and calves were all in the Herdhome, during the night the new born calves followed their mothering cows walking into the direction of the storm to the warmth of the Herdhome.”

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Award up for grabs for responsible irrigation ENCOURAGING FARMERS to share

ideas for achieving sustainable freshwater management has motivated the launch of a new award - with a trip to the US up for grabs. The Zimmatic Trailblazer - Sustainable Irrigation Awards aim to celebrate excellence in sustainable irrigation. With support from Awards partners, the competition is being run by agricultural irrigation systems leader, Zimmatic. It will recognise farmers leading the way in responsible irrigation, innovative water management and environmental stewardship. The supreme award winner will receive a trip for two to the US and be invited to join the Zimmatic team on a tour showcasing American irrigation advancements. Zimmatic Strategic Adviser Stu Bradbury says uncertainty around government policy and negative sentiment in national media has many New Zealand farmers questioning their farming future and social license to operate. “We want the Awards to get people talking about smart practices and innovative technology options farmers can use to improve their irrigation and freshwater management. “It’s also about promoting leadership across the primary sector. We’re looking for farmers who are in it ‘boots and all’ when it comes to water management. And then giving them a platform from which to share their stories with their peers and a wider audience.” The judges are looking for innovation in water management, steps taken to ensure sustainable water use on farm, and an obvious passion for protecting one of our most precious natural resources. Each entrant will be judged on the following categories: sustainable irrigation management; irrigation-driven improve-

ments, which may include cost reductions, environmental outcomes, yield improvements and/ or improved efficiencies; waterway protection; stewardship/community. The Awards are supported by New Zealand industry partners IrrigationNZ, Vantage NZ and Irricon. IrrigationNZ CEO Elizabeth Soal says it’s a challenging time for farmers with increasing pressure on them to improve their environmental practices. “But they are openminded about these challenges and have already taken steps to ensure they are adhering to best farming practice.  “At the end of the day, we all want healthy animals, thriving land and good water quality. Through these Awards we can recognise the time, money and effort farmers are investing in achieving these goals.” Soal is encouraging farmers to nominate themselves or their peers for the Award. “We want excellence in agriculture and horticulture to be celebrated in New Zealand and to showcase the expert technologies and systems that are in place for everyone’s benefit,” she says.  “Irrigation isn’t just about turning on the tap. If farmers want to educate New Zealanders about the expertise involved in day-to-day farming practices, they should step forward and share their stories. Everyone has different land, experiences, and expertise and these awards are a great chance to demonstrate that.”  Stu Bradbury expresses the same sentiment. He says the awards are an opportunity to demonstrate the difference responsible irrigation and water management can make to farm productivity, the environment and the prosperity of our rural communities. Looking at the bigger picture, Bradbury says there is an opportunity for innovative farm-

ing pioneers to influence future generations. “These farmers have a role to play in strengthening the New Zealand success story as global leaders in sustainable and

profitable farming. “Our team at Zimmatic is partnering with farmers and supporting them during uncertain times.’. @dairy_news facebook.com/dairynews


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$10m funding boost for BoP water storage IRRIGATIONNZ IS

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backing the Government’s decision to inject $10.6 million for a water storage facility in Raukokore, in the eastern Bay of Plenty. “This funding will be a significant enabler of land-use diversification and high-value production in the area” chief executive of Irrigation NZ Elizabeth Soal says. “Currently there are a lot of regions around the country that have been declared to be in drought. Under climate change these extreme weather events are only going to occur more often, however, water storage can make us more resilient during these times”

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“Although this funding boost is excellent, there is a real need for our water-related funding and decision-making to be guided by a national strategy. Whether it be related to water quantity, water quality, allocation or infrastructure, such a strategy will create a more resilient and thriving New Zealand” Soal says. She says water is critical for so many regions, much more than just irrigation, water storage has the potential to creates jobs, reliability, improve waterway health, creates better bio-diversity habitats and overall is a benefit to the economy and wellbeing of communities. Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says the funding announcement was great news for the rural community. The landowner Te Whānau a Maruhaeremuri Hapū Trust will use the investment, in the form of a loan, to design and build the water storage scheme for under-utilised, underdeveloped Māori land. “This is great news for the rural community. The landowner, Te Whānau

a Maruhaeremuri Hapū Trust, will use the investment - in the form of a loan – to design and build the water storage scheme that will act as a catalyst for under-utilised, underdeveloped Māori land,” Jones said.  “The key focus of this project is to change low productivity land to land that will support high value horticulture.  “The water storage facility will be key to growth in the primary sector industries, leading to increased jobs in the area. “The long-neglected eastern Bay of Plenty faces an uphill battle in increasing regional economic growth and the rewards that brings such as higher wages and more job opportunities,” Shane Jones said.  The scheme is intended to help develop 200-300ha of high-value horticultural land, with the capacity to grow to 900ha over time.  A cooperative entity will be established to own and operate the scheme with the water users expected to be shareholders.


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ABOVE GROUND EFFLUENT/WATER STORAGE TANKS Combining Westeel’s robust quality steel fabrication and the revolutionary sustainable Layfield Enviro Liners, REL Group has created the strongest above ground effluent storage solution available today. TANKS SIZES: • 250,000 Litres • 500,000 Litres • 750,000 Litres • 1,000,000 Litres • 1,500,000 Litres • 2,000,000 Litres • 4,000,000 Litres

MECHANICAL SEPARATOR FOR DAIRY SHEDS Key benefits of effluent separation: • Preservation of nutrients natural fertiliser returned to the land in a controlled manner • Up to 80% reduction in greenhouse gases Off the tank as well as eliminating unpleasant odours • Stable treatment process • Cost effective reduction in fertiliser costs as returned to the land CONTACT YOUR LOCAL DEALER: South Island




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Orari Irrigation Ltd

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Solar-powered ➤ Ceres Tag is like a unique number plate.

FOR MORE than a decade, farmers have been able to rely on accurate electronic data for a wide range of information relating to their farm’s land and infrastructure. For example, Aquaflex have been producing

soil moisture tapes that provide farmers with accurate soil moisture temperature readings, on which they can make factbased irrigation decisions. Siemens manufactures flow meters that are robust & accurate, enabling farmers to use fact-based data to manage their water usage, adhere

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to consents, and detect leaks. More recently, Levno has been one of the firms installing milk vat monitors on Fonterra farms, provding farmers and Fonterra with accurate, real-time information to help ensure milk quality. For years, Precision Farming has been aggregating these types of data with the data it generates for farmers, including its GPS Proof of Application nutrient data from fertiliser, effluent, whey, and other applications. All this land and infrastructure information is sensor-originated, meaning the data is generated electronically. Which in turn means that when those data are provided to farmers in Precision Farming’s system on laptop, smartphone or tablet, it gives information to the farmer reliable data that was not already to hand from observation, or from paper or manual records. Compare this with the general state of animal data. Stock counts for herds, body condition scores for diary cows, live weights for lambs, NAIT records for cattle sold to the neighbour, ear tags read by hand-held readers – these all involve the farmer creating the data.

In many cases, farmers then upload this information into a farm management platform by typing the details in, or uploading a spreadsheet. These types of websites are for saving information the farmer already knows. So they are recording systems, rather than information systems. With recording systems, farmers give information to the farm management platform. With information systems, the farm management platform gives information to the farmer. The Precision Farming platform is an information system. However, largely speaking, information has been about land and infrastructure, rather than about animals. This is about to change, and change significantly. While electronic data can be generated about animals, it is often expensive per animal, involves significant investment in on-farm readers and hardware, and works only when the animal is brought into close proximity to those readers. Now, with the imminent arrival of affordable, electronic, solar-powered, satellite ear tags, the same value, accuracy and convenience



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number plates for cows farmers have enjoyed from land-based data systems will now be able to be derived from cows and cattle. This innovation has two major benefits. Firstly, the ear tags, by Ceres Tag, generate electronic data automatically. Information collected about animals by hand, whether by wands, or race or shed counters, is always labour intensive, often incomplete, notoriously inaccurate, and usually late. Electronic data, by comparison, is sensororiginated and so does not require labour, is reliably complete, highly accurate, and near realtime. Second, the financial, operational and managerial benefits are signficant. Now that land and infrastructure data will be able to be combined in the same computer software as animal data, as data builds up, Precision Farming’s farm information system will be able to analyse cause and effect. By aggregating data about soil, pasture measurement, fertiliser applications, irrigation scheduling, weather and more, with information about cows and cattle their GPS location, their wellbeing, their temperature, their feeding and

rumination behaviours, cows’ heat, and their body weight and milk production - farmers will be able to gain insights to help improve production, reduce input costs and optimise profitabilty, while also helping with compliance and sustainability. Over time, as data volumes build up both within each farm, and across benchmark groups, algorthms will enable better supply chain provenance, improved early disease detection, and broad improvements in herd management. There are other benefits which involve stock transporters and meat companies. With real-time electronic data coming from cows and cattle, complying with NAIT becomes significantly easier for farmers, cartage contractors and meat companies. Because the ear tags communicate directly with satellites, animals do not need to come in close proximity to readers in dairy sheds or cattle yards. Being solar powered and with a battery life in excess of ten years, more than the average dairy cow or beef animal, the Ceres Tag is like a unique number plate – one tag, one animal. Recyclable,

but not reusable. That also provides security against cattle rustling and stock theft. Authorities can see the GPS location of cattle that may have been stolen. Even wandering stock that have broken through fences can be relocated and

returned to their rightful owner. As Yogi Berra, the famous American baseball player was quoted as saying, “the future ain’t what it used to be”. • Kenneth Irons is managing director at Precision Farming.

Ceres tag

Image courtesy of Christchurch City Libraries

TOGETHER WE WILL ENDURE Farming is the backbone of a proud nation carved out by our early pioneers’ strength, determination and hard work. Resilience and an inherent belief in a better way forward still drive’s our farmers desire and need for perpetual innovation. These same qualities are the foundation of Zimmatic. We are proud to lead the way in irrigation technology and to be part of the enduring legacy our farmers leave for future generations.

Data about irrigation scheduling and other on-farm activities can help lift profitability.


Zimmatic® is a registered trademark of the Lindsay Corporation. © 2020 Lindsay. All Rights Reserved



Don’t be bullied into building large ponds A HAMILTON soil and

water consultant is questioning the effectiveness of the dairy effluent storage calculator on Waikato farms. Fred Phillips, a natural resource engineer, says

Waikato soils are hugely variable and there are large areas of free draining sandy loams and ash soils that are extremely low risk when it comes to effluent management. The Waikato also has

large areas of what were originally classed as peat soils, the vast majority of which have been drained over the last 80 years and are now organic loams and are likely to be low risk soils despite being

Six key factors ACCORDING TO Fred Philips, there are six key factors that determine the storage requirements for effluent. ■■ The area of concrete draining to the effluent sump,

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“Councils and dairy companies are on the band wagon ■■ The amount of water used for washing down. telling farmers ■■ The Volume of effluent you are prepared to that they must apply on any day after wet weather comply with the ■■ The soil characteristics and infiltration rate DESC. The fact ■■ The sprinkler application rate (This is where the that a person can be rubber meets the road) successfully prosecuted for not comply■■ And how you manage and maintain your system. ing with a rule is a lot easier than proving that a person is damaging the DairyNZ took over classed as High risk peat environment.” responsibility for the bogs. Phillips notes that model and successfully Massey, AgResearch many Waikato farmers marketed its environand Horizons Regional have been doing an excelCouncil developed a dairy mental benefits to other lent job in relation to regional councils all over effluent storage calculaeffluent management for NZ so that it has now tor to help farmers plan more than 25 years. become the “Bible”,” he storage to cope with This has been achieved says. wet weather and heavy with modest sprinkler “Unfortunately comclay soils, so that effluent could be stored when puter models are not bib- and pump systems pumping from small sumps soil conditions were likely lical and as additional adjacent to the cow yard experience and informato give rise to excessive and irrigated directly tion becomes evident, drainage and subsequent computer models need to onto pasture as soon as discharge into streams. be upgraded and tuned to the effluent is produced Phillips says they also during the washdown probe more appropriate for included a category for cess. the range of conditions low risk soils for farmHe says this has encountered. ers who were not on the It is even more impor- worked well because the heavy clay soils of the Waikato region has been tant when a programme Manawatu or the marine blessed with a range of is designed as a manageclays common in the free-draining soils from ment guide is grabbed by Hauraki. sandy loams near the councils and used as a “Having designed blanket enforcement tool. major river systems and the DESC Massey and vast areas of volcanic ash It happened with OverAgResearch staff had soils as a result of volcaseer and it has happened done what they were nic eruptions. with the DESC. contracted to do and

Many of these soils have natural infiltration rates well in excess of 15mm/hour. Farmers who look after these precious soils can apply effluent at up to 15 mm per hour without any risk of ponding, almost every day of the year, he says. “At lower application rates they are even more secure. “When the DESC was applied to these very low risk soils, it became very obvious that the DESC was predicting storage volumes that were excessive, because the very low risk soils had not been identified as an important issue. “It has taken four years of debate and discussion for it to be accepted that the DESC was not providing fit for purpose advice for farmers with these highly productive and free draining soils.” Phillips says farmer experience and comparative advantage were being pushed aside and Waikato farmers were being told to invest millions of dollars over and above what was actually needed, to be good law abiding custodians of our land and water. “It is fair to say that these people have been bullied by well-intended people who did not have the appropriate personal knowledge and experience in soil and water to make judgement calls, but they could look up maps and models on a computer, even if they did not know how to use a spade as an validation or an investigative tool.”


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FRED PHILLIPS gives Dairy NZ and the DESC designers credit: they have now accepted that the model was overstating storage requirements for the very low risk soils and they have just completed a revision of the DESC which significantly reduces the predicted storage requirement on these soils. “At the moment the revision is being tested but is expected

to be available in the next few weeks,” he says. “I would anticipate that this will reduce storage predictions on these soils to between 50 – 60% of the volumes predicted by Version 1.5. When this is combined with automatic storage diversion to and from storage according to rainfall and soil conditions, significantly less capital invest-

ment will be required for a fully compliant system “There are dozens of people who have been on DESC courses but very few actually know how to use this tool to help advise farmers on the management options available to them. “The number of cows is not a major storage driver but it does influence the applied nutrients.”



Greendrill, a red-hot performer driven metering unit, a fill level sensor monitors the contents and a screw lock on the hopper lid protects the seed against dust and moisture. A range of easily changed metering rollers are available to suit different seed sizes, with seeding rates adjusted via the in-cab terminal, that also serves for one-touch calibration. Alternatively, the process can be carried out using the mySeeder app on a suitable smart device. The GreenDrill 501 can be controlled, using section and variable application rates, using

MARK DANIEL markd@ruralnews.co.nz

DUBBED AS a universal seeder, Amazone’s new GreenDrill 501is said to be ideal for one-pass sowing of ‘catch crops’, fine seeds and undersown crops in combination with the company’s trailed cultivators. The 500 L hopper has a wide opening for rapid filling, being accessed using steps and a platform. The bottom section of the hopper contains a protective sieve in order to prevent foreign bodies entering the electrically


any ISOBUS terminal. Mounted on a trailed cultivator, such as the Catros compact disc harrow, the GreenDrill 501 utilises a hydraulic blower fan to transport the seed from the metering unit to the sowing coulters. The blower fan is not required if the GreenDrill 501 is mounted on a Cirrus trailed cultivatordrill combination. Seed is transferred from the distribution head to the baffle plates, which ensure an optimal lateral distribution across 16 to 48 seed rows, while also offering the ability to create tramlines.

FIELDAYS INNOVATION AWARDS ENTRY OPENS ENTRIES ARE now open for the 2020 Fieldays Innovation Awards and close on Thursday 30th April. A centrepiece of the annual event, the Awards offer a platform for agribusinesses to discover potentially useful new innovations for the primary industry, but also gives entrants and opportunity to test their ideas, carry out market research, expand their networks. Judges are not only looking for new ideas but also business nous and industrial impact, according to Cooke. “It’s great to have an innovation that’s interesting and new, but it’s important to know who your target audience is, how you’re planning to reach them,

how is this product is going to get to market and what impact it will have on the industry and users. “As judges we’re looking for people

to be able to communicate this clearly, this is key. The beauty of Fieldays is that there is a hugely dynamic audience, the

Are you hitting your target market?

innovations centre bridges all these audiences. It sends a clear message that there is a future for agriculture and it’s not just the way things used to be.” Jerome Wenzlick of Future Post, winners of the 2019 Fieldays Launch NZ Award, says the awards put them in front of their target market and gave people the ability to tangibly engage with their product. Wenzlick’s advice for entrants is clear. “Go with an open mind as you don’t know who you’ll meet and know your story. As a farmer myself I understand the pressure we’re under environmentally, this is truly making a difference in that area. Being able to

say we won this award gave our brand greater credibility and awareness. Just give it a go – we never thought we would win, but the benefits have been incredible.” Fieldays Innovations is made up of two parts: Innovation Awards with categories including Prototype Established, Prototype Grassroots, Launch NZ and International as well as several sponsor awards. Sponsors include Vodafone, Massey University, Callaghan Innovation, Amazon Web Services, Gait International and James & Wells. Entry criteria can be found at www. fieldays.co.nz/whats-on/innovations/

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D A E H A Y STA E M A G E H T OF EMBRACING SCIENCE AT A TIME WHEN CHANGE IS COMING FASTER THAN EVER. DAIRYNZ: Creating a cow for the future Taking the N out of Pee Breeding better pastures Improving milking efficiency Independent forage evaluation Influencing sound policy backed by facts

In May, you will be asked to vote on whether you want to continue the levy on milksolids, enabling DairyNZ to continue industry good activities. Your levy vote is an important one for the whole industry. For more information on current science projects and everything else your levy covers, visit dairynz.co.nz/vote


Profile for Rural News Group

Dairy News 17 March 2020  

Dairy News 17 March 2020

Dairy News 17 March 2020  

Dairy News 17 March 2020