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Vets slam Govt over work visas. PAGE 4 BVD AND PREGNANCY Keeping herd safe PAGE 19

See page 1 SEPTEMBER 15, 2020 ISSUE 455 // www.dairynews.co.nz

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TUCKER AND GOOD TUCKER


Vets slam Govt over work visas. PAGE 4 BVD AND PREGNANCY

CLEAN WATER Key to good production PAGE 28

Keeping herd safe PAGE 19

SEPTEMBER 15, 2020 ISSUE 455 // www.dairynews.co.nz

PUTTING FARMERS FIRST “I’m looking forward to getting out in the field, supporting our team and finding out what matters most to our farmer customers.” - James Smalwood, CRV Ambreed managing director PAGE 5

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DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

NEWS // 3

Graziers quitting! PETER BURKE peterb@ruralnews.co.nz

SOME SOUTHLAND farmers

Live cattle exports in limbo. PG.09

Farming without fences. PG.16

Mowers get a makeover. PG.22

NEWS ..................................................... 3-10 AGRIBUSINESS .................................... 13 OPINION .............................................. 14-15 MANAGEMENT ................................16-18 ANIMAL HEALTH ...........................19-20 MACHINERY & PRODUCTS ........................................21-22 MILK QUALITY ............................... 23-29

who graze dairy cattle in winter say they will not do it next year. That’s the word from Federated Farmers regional vice president Bernadette Hunt who says these farmers are saying that winter grazing is attracting too much negative attention and with the rules changing all the time it’s not worth the hassle. She says if more dairy graziers take this view it will pose problems for dairy farmers because nobody is allowed to do any more winter grazing than they are already doing. Hunt says this raises the question of what will happen to those animals next year if they can’t get grazing. In the past week there have been meetings between farmers and officials to try and find workable and sensible changes to the impasse over the new fresh water regulations. Hunt says she’s never heard any opposition from farmers for the need to improve the state of waterways. But she says there is massive concern that the focus on three or four specific rules relating to water quality is actually diverting attention away from solving the problem. “A couple of months ago, people were talking about winter grazing and the conversation was about buffer strips, riparian planting, protecting critical source areas, sediment traps – and now the conversation is about centimetres, degrees of slope and dates. The conversation has gone from being proactive and absolutely focused on outcomes to being really reactive and focused on inconsequen-

Federated Farmers Southland vice president Bernadette Hunt says graziers complain that winter grazing is attracting too much negative attention.

tial details,” she says. Hunt says if the rules remain as they are now, there will be huge costs for both Southland farmers and ratepayers. She says Environment Southland says it will have to hire fifty extra staff in their consents team alone to deal with the new rules. She says every consent that is lodged by a farmer will have to undergo due diligence, meaning it would have to be checked out for Maori cultural values and its effect on water ecosystems, among many other things. She says when and if the consent is granted, another layer of bureaucracy will be needed. “They will then need staff to monitor and enforce those consents, which will create a huge cost and bureaucracy and cost that is of no benefit to anyone. If we don’t change the rules there will be people out there measuring the depths of hoof prints and that is absolutely

daft,” she says. Hunt says there is no way that Environment Southland can do “quick and dirty workarounds” to get around the new rules. She says, if they do, they face the risk of legal action, but unless the rules are changed and made workable, farmers will continue to find ways to operate despite the rules. “Farmers are really innovative people and as quickly as government officials are writing these prescriptive rules, farmers are figuring out how to get around them. That’s what I mean about perverse outcomes – so instead of focusing on doing the really good things, they are now looking to see if there are loopholes, and there always will be. That’s why government needs to win the hearts and minds of farmers, because if they don’t, farmers will just find ways to manage around the crazy rules.” While there are ongoing discus-

sions about the situation in Southland and other parts of NZ about winter grazing, Hunt says there seems to be a blockage at the top – meaning the Minister for the Environment, David Parker. “I don’t believe we are getting through to Parker on winter grazing. I think he is hearing something about the other things like the low slope maps, which relate to stock exclusion. But on winter grazing he is absolutely unapologetic and seems to regard winter grazing as the most significant contributor to waterway degradation and is determined to regulate it. I think he believes that every winter grazing operation should be consented and heavily regulated and he sees prescriptive rules as the way to achieving improved waterways,” she says. But Hunt believes that this prescriptive approach will not work, whereas an outcomes based system will work.


DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

4 // NEWS

Migrant workers set to return SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

ABOUT 50 migrant dairy workers could potentially benefit from the Government’s border exception for work visa holders. However, Federated Farmers says some farmers who hired locals to replace the migrant workers trapped overseas could be facing a tricky situation. Federated Farmers vice president Chris Lewis is urging famers to carefully read the wording on contracts. “Before you start thinking about getting Johnny from overseas to replace Paul who is

already employed on your farm, read the wordings on the contracts,” he told Dairy News. “This could become a complex employment issue for some farmers. “So, take advice before you run off to the immigration consultant.” Lewis says “a kind spring” meant that many farmers got through calving with the help of new workers. However, he says most locals don’t have the farm work experience that the migrant workers possess. “Everyone expects a high level of animal welfare and sustainability practices on farm and we need these experienced overseas workers to help farmers meet those

expectations.” Lewis says at the last count about 50 migrant farm workers were trapped overseas. He couldn’t say how many would still have jobs. Lewis thanked new Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi for his understanding and making changes swiftly. “I only wish the last minister had made the decision months ago.” Faafoi last week announced that visa holders, who must have retained their job or business in New Zealand, plus their partners and dependent children, will be able to apply for this exception from early October when the new category opens. “Many of these visa

holders and their families have lived in New Zealand for years and have built lives here with the hope and expectation that they would be able to stay longer-term in New Zealand. It is only fair to let these visa holders return given their long-standing and ongoing connections to this country,” says Faafoi. “We are keen to give them certainty and welcome them back to New Zealand.” DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says this is a real breakthrough for migrants who meet the criteria and gives their farm employers certainty to plan for the future. “We thank the Government for listening to the sector’s calls for these

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Chris Lewis, Federated Farmers says farmers wish the decision was made months ago.

highly skilled people to return. They contribute to the dairy sector’s success, are invaluable for their experience and skills, and are important for training incoming Kiwi staff.” The visa holders and their families will follow

all border control processes and go into quarantine or managed isolation, before re-joining their communities here. DairyNZ has been working with the Government since the beginning of the Covid-19

lockdown. The Government did provide a sixmonth extension on the employer-assisted temporary work visas due to expire by the end of 2020, which was also very welcome news for dairy farmers.

Vets slam Govt over work visas THE GOVERNMENT is being urged elevate veterinarians to critical worker status to help ease an acute shortage. In a scathing media release last week, the NZ Vet Association (NZVA) accused the Government of double standards while granting emergency work visas. “We’re led to the conclusion that veterinarians are just not viewed as important, or as sexy as other parts of the economy such as film making, which have seen wholesale exemptions created,” says NZVA chief executive Kevin Bryant. “This is surprising given veterinarians’ essential worker status during lockdown. “We also understand that exemptions have been granted to build golf courses, build or repair racetracks, and for shearers. “Surely veterinarians are at least as important in supporting the economic functioning of the country.” Bryant says if animal welfare, food safety and biosecurity are compromised because there are insufficient vets to support the primary sector, the economic impact on New Zealand would be catastrophic. A survey of NZVA members found that out of 124 practices there was a shortfall of 224 veterinarians. Most respondents were seeking veterinarians on a full-time, permanent basis. Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi told Dairy News that the issue concerning veterinarians has been raised with him by Federated Farmers and the

matter is being looked at the moment. He didn’t have a specific time-frame, at this stage, on when a solution might be reached. Faafoi says work is happening across various sectors which are calling for workers, whom they deem to be critical, to be allowed into New Zealand. The Minister said that while the Government looks to address the issues around critical workers’ entry, it needs to balance that against maintaining careful border controls and managed isolation to ensure any spread of Covid19 is limited and does not force a return to lockdown. NZVA chief veterinary officer Helen Beattie warns that repercussions of vet shortages are far-reaching and, in many cases, have long-term consequences, including poor veterinary mental health and well-being, burn-out and veterinarians leaving the profession. The NZVA says it has been talking to ministers and officials in an effort to help streamline processes to enable veterinarians to enter the country and alleviate the critical veterinary shortage exacerbated by border restrictions imposed due to Covid-19. So far this doesn’t seem to have worked, with more applications being declined each day, despite laborious hours spent submitting applications. “We are calling on the Government to take urgent steps to alleviate this situation by elevating veterinarians to critical worker status and streamlining and speeding up the application and approval process.” – Sudesh Kissun


DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

NEWS // 5

Putting farmers first WAIRARAPA BOY

SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

JAMES SMALLWOOD has worked around the world in a variety of leadership positions, which have given him a deep understanding of the primary industries. Smallwood’s most recent role was based in Melbourne as general manager Australia and New Zealand of ABS Australia (part of global company Genus PLC), providing animal breeding supplies and services to the Australian and New Zealand dairy and beef industries. Under his leadership the company recaptured its number one market share position in both beef and dairy, after the successful development and implementation of a business rebuilding strategy. Smallwood was born and bred on a small dairy farm in the Wairarapa. He and his wife have expanded this to a 550-cow operation over the past twenty years. They have also recently developed a dairy beef unit in partnership with their long standing sharemilkers. He has also served as director of entities including DataGene and Ovita Limited, and has completed the Fonterra Governance Development programme. He has chaired several boards and committees both in the industry and in the wider Wairarapa community.

THE NZ agriculture

sector is more than just a job for CRV Ambreed’s new managing director James Smallwood. It’s about people doing business with people, says Smallwood, who has had a 30-year career in agribusiness and along with his wife owns a 550-cow dairy farm in Wairarapa. He is signalling “an open-door” approach to leadership, planning to get out in the field with staff and invite farmers to connect with him oneon-one. “I know farmers like working with our company and our staff; we’ve built a great working relationship,” he told Dairy News. Smallwood plans to experience this first-hand. “A lot of CRV’s success to date is the result of the passionate staff that work here, which is evident in the strong relationships our team has with our farmer customers. “I can see that the CRV team truly values the reputation it has amongst farmers as a trustworthy partner who listens and understands their farming business. It’s crucial our customers know they

can rely on us to work with them to achieve their herd improvement goals, using genetics and data. “As the newest member of the CRV team, I’m looking forward to getting out in the field, supporting our team and finding out what matters most to our farmer customers.” Smallwood started his new role last month, following the appointment of Angus Haslett as head of CRV Ambreed’s Dutch

parent company, CRV. Smallwood is only CRV Ambreed’s fourth managing director in the company’s history. He says he is focused on working with the CRV team to continue offering industry-leading innovations and great products to the company’s farmer customers. “We want to deliver our products and services to farmers in a way they value and love, so that their businesses benefit,

whether that’s through increased production, healthier cows or technology to help them farm better. “I’m looking forward to helping CRV realise its true potential as one of New Zealand’s leading genetics companies.” Smallwood points out that CRV Ambreed is more than just an animal breeding business. Over the years, it has invested in technology and research such

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as LowN Sires and herd recording software, myHERD – innovations changing the way farmers approach their herd improvement. He notes that today’s discerning customers have food safety, animal welfare and sustainability on the top of their minds. Smallwood says technology developed by CRV Ambreed, in collaboration with industry stakeholders, is designed to help farmers become more

sustainable and further improve their animal welfare credentials. He says genetics is playing its part, helping farmers deal with animal welfare issues. For example, use of CRV Ambreed sexed semen gives farmers more heifers, greater value replacements and fewer bobby calves. The management of bobby calves by the industry has come under scrutiny in recent years.

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DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

6 // NEWS

Farm values down – REINZ PETER BURKE peterb@ruralnews.co.nz

A FLOATING and vola-

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of NZ rural spokesperson Brian Peacocke describes the current value of dairy farms around the country. The latest statistics by the institute show that in the three months to the

end of July, the median price per hectare of dairy farms has dropped by 29.1% to $23,193 compared with the same period in 2019. For grazing farms there is a drop of 8.5% to

$10,194. This comes amid news that the state-owned farmer Pamu, or Landcorp, wrote down the book value of its dairy farms by 10% in the year

The fall in dairy prices could have an impact on those farms with high debt to equity ratios.

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ended 30 June. Peacocke says that write down number is about the middle of the range with the lowest being just over 7% and the highest write down close to 20%. He says the present easing of prices also reflects the very low volume of sales at this time of the year. Peacocke says this is not the time of the year when dairy farms are sold. He says the drop off in sales is partly due to overseas buyers not being in the market and they traditionally buy larger properties. “For example, there have only been two sales of dairy farms in Canterbury in the past nine months,” he says. The fall in dairy prices could have an impact on those farms with high debt to equity ratios. Farmers who are well capitalised and have a good financial structure will be fine. But Peacocke warns that those who are undercapitalised, have too much debt and haven’t got the necessary structures in place to deal with new compliance rules will be in difficulty. According to Peacocke, dairy farm values in Taranaki and parts of the Waikato are traditionally strong and have remained

so. However he notes that new developments in what he calls “fringe dairy country” could be hit by lower land values. “However, there are some new developments done recently that are doing well. These are farms that were developed after it was clear what the new environmental regulations may look like and this was factored into the design of the property. But for those blocks which have come out of forestry, it will be a long slow process before they get where they want to be,” he says. Peacocke says the situation will become clearer later in the spring as the sales season for dairy farms gets underway. “From that point of view we have a better environment this spring than we had in the autumn and spring last year. “But coming out of Covid, a whole lot of things are going to be tested when we get into the spring and it’s pretty difficult to say where the values are going to sit. We’ve got a floating, volatile situation at the moment and speculation right now would best be kept until the farm sale market emerges,” he says.

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DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

NEWS // 7

Advisory group for winter grazing PETER BURKE peterb@ruralnews.co.nz

IN ANOTHER twist to the ongoing winter grazing saga in Southland, Environment Minister David Parker and Minister of Primary Industries Damien O’Connor met with a group of Environment Southland council executives, farming and sector leaders and Fish & Game to try and find ways of resolving the impasse over the implementation of the new freshwater regulations. The meeting of ministers and other interested parties was apparently organised by a group of local farmers who wanted to voice their concern over some aspects of the regulations. Federated Farmers representatives, including Bernadette Hunt, were present,

An advisory group will be formed to advise Government on winter grazing rules proposed for Southland.

but they did not initiate the meeting. She says the farmers who called the meeting voiced the same concerns that they have making to Minister Parker. During the meeting,

there was an agreement to form a local advisory group to be facilitated by Environment Southland, which would provide advice into the national implementation group established by Minister

Parker last week. Environment Southland chairman Nicol Horrell said the meetings were very constructive and he looked forward to working with the ministers further as they

worked through the new legislation. He says everyone wants to ensure water quality in the region is improved. “The ministers acknowledged the progress that’s already been

made here in Southland with farm plans [for] intensive winter grazing,” he says. One of the farmers present, Tony Cleland, a farmer and chairman of FMG, says while the pro-

cess has been challenging, the group has established a pragmatic way forward, thanks to collaborative input from farmers, industry groups, council and ministers. He says it’s encouraging that a local group of farmers will be working with Environment Southland on the rule changes. “The conversation was constructive and we will continue to work, as a group, on this issue as we seek solutions as a sector. We see the implementation groups and councils as key in the rollout of these regulations,” he says. But what is not clear is just who will be on the new group, its power and how this will affect the individual advocacy of Federated Farmers and other industry groups. @dairy_news facebook.com/dairynews

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DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

NEWS // 9

Live cattle exports in limbo PETER BURKE peterb@ruralnews.co.nz

THE FATE of 28,000

cows in quarantine in New Zealand and supposedly destined for China in the coming weeks hangs in the balance. This is because the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has called an immediate halt to live animal exports following the sinking of the Gulf Livestock 1 off the coast of Japan. The ship left Napier on August with 43 crew including two New Zealanders and 6000 cattle bound for China. As Dairy News went to press, only two survivors from the ship had been found. MPI is now investigating the sinking and has stopped all live exports until this is completed.

MPI veterinarian and director for animal welfare, Dr Chris Rodwell, says given the search for vessel is still underway, it is difficult to put a timeframe on anything at this point. He says they want to understand what happened during the sailing of the Gulf Livestock 1. “MPI, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Maritime NZ and our Australian and Japanese counterparts and exporters are working together to learn more. “We want to be assured that before there are any decisions about another shipment, and people and livestock make a journey, that we know what took place here in more detail,” he says. Rodwell says MPI is talking to the exporters about the 28,000 cows

The fate of 28,000 cows in quarantine in New Zealand and supposedly destined for China in the coming weeks hangs in the balance.

currently in quarantine, and they advise that there are no feed shortages in these facilities, the environmental conditions are good and the animals’ needs are well managed. He says MPI is actively working with the exporters on what options are available. Meanwhile, the general

manager of NZ Farmers Livestock Ltd, Bill Sweeney, says he understands the need for the MPI inquiry. He says the sinking of the ship and the loss of the crew is tragic. NZ Farmers Livestock helps procure live animals for export. There had been some

talk that the cattle in quarantine might have been allowed to be shipped and then a halt called, but Sweeney says it’s clear this isn’t going to happen. He says in the last eight months about 40,000 cattle have been exported and with another 28,000 ready to

go, it would be one of the biggest years for live exports. “It isn’t always like this. When the market overheats, China will pull out. For example, about two years ago only about 14,000 cattle were exported,” he says. Sweeney has been in the livestock business for more than 40 years and says back in the early days the method of shipping animals overseas was not as it should have been, with a few fly-bynight exporters giving the rest of the industry a bad name. But he says this changed and the cattle are well looked after on their voyage. “The mortality rate on current voyages at present is point one of a percent over the 40,000 shipped out, which is no higher than the death

rate if they had stayed in NZ. The rates would have been massively higher when they were shipping them years ago. Now the animals are extremely well cared for and the diet they are on is highly nutritious. The exporters are working to some super high standards,” he says. Sweeney says the live export trade is valuable to farmers and some make a point of targeting the trade. He says a heifer destined for export would sell for about $1,400 whereas it would fetch about half that on the local market. “And remember that if some of these animals weren’t reared for the export trade, they would likely be slaughtered as bobby calves,” he says. @dairy_news facebook.com/dairynews

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DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

10 // NEWS

Global movers and shakers SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

DAIRY COMPANIES around the world

are facing a dilemma – whether to expand or divest assets, says Rabobank’s Mary Ledman. The latest Rabobank

Global Dairy Top 20 report states that 10 of these companies reported lower year-on-year sales in US dollars terms in 2019. Ledman, a global dairy strategist, expects “the continuation of belowtrend milk production gains in most of the major

exporting countries – due in part to rising costs of production, as farms comply with rising environmental regulations”. Slower economic growth in China and a post Covid-19 global recession will cause consumers to trade down. Last year the global

dairy sector recorded 115 deals – investments, divestments, acquisitions, joint ventures, and strategic alliances – compared to 112 in 2018. Europe saw the most dairy deals last year (64) followed by North America and Asia (39 and 25, respectively). As of mid-

2020, the number of dairy deals stands at 52, impeded by Covid-19 and foreshadowing a more active deal environment for 2021. Ledman says Covid19 was forcing some companies to defer strategic investments or divestments. Mary Ledman, Rabobank.

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Ledman says consolidation of key dairy assets by Fonterra and FrieslandCampina resulted in lower year-onyear sales in both US dollars and euros. Moving up this year’s list are Asian companies. China’s largest dairy company, Yili, moves into the top five, with year-on-year growth of nearly 20%, due in part to its acquisition of Hokitika-based Westland Dairy. China’s second-largest dairy company, Mengnui, rose two places to eighth, on the heels of acquiring Australia-based Bellamy’s and entering into a joint venture with CocaCola to sell chilled milk in China. However, Mengnui’s planned acquisition of another Australian business, Lion Dairy & Drinks – currently owned by Kirin (Japan) – failed to gain approval from Australia’s Foreign Investment Review due to rising tensions between the two countries. Entering the Global Dairy Top 20 this year, from the world’s largest milk-producing country, is India’s Gujarat Cooperative, with sales of US$5.5bn in 2019, up 17% from the prior year.

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“One of the challenges of operating in the pandemic is that it is more difficult to get deals done,” she says. “As a result, companies risk being trapped in declining margins, unless they can capitalise on a ‘winning in home markets’ strategy, as consumers alter their purchasing habits with greater attention to health and wellness and less awayfrom-home dining. “At the same time, companies may reconsider their global strategies in the light of growing trade tensions around the globe, along with more inwardly focused domestic food security policies, resulting in future-proofing market share with more on-shore manufacturing than trade.” Fonterra makes the Top 20 list at sixth position, down two places from 2018. It has reported two straight years of losses and has been divesting non-core assets. It offloaded the Tip Top Ice Cream business and stepped back from joint ventures in Europe. European co-op FrislandCampina also slipped two places to seventh position.

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19/08/2020 2:51:15 PM

SWISS FOOD giant Nestle is clinging on to the top position on the Global Dairy Top 20 list. However, France-based Lactalis is hot on its heels. The French titan has added 41 deals since 2013, and more recently expanding its global footprint in the Middle East & Africa and North and South America. With Nestle selling some of its dairy assets, the gap between the top two has narrowed. The US$3.5bn gap between it and Lactalis in 2018 closed to just US$1.1bn in 2019. The US’s largest dairy cooperative, Dairy Farmers of America, leapt three places into third position, helped by its acquisition of last year’s eleventh placed company Dean Foods.


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DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

AGRIBUSINESS // 13

HerdHomes joining forces with concrete expert TWO ICONIC Northland companies – HerdHomes and Busck Concrete- are joining forces. The two companies have worked together for 20 years delivering advanced farming shelters and effluent systems to dairy farms throughout the country. HerdHomes founder Tom Pow says the new joint venture company will capture “the best in cows and concrete”. “The new company will help farming developing systems to meet environmental and welfare demands while improving productivity,” he told Dairy News. HerdHomes was started by Pow after he noticed the impact of bad weather on cows and milk production.

HerdHomes was started by Tom Pow after he noticed the impact of bad weather on cows and milk production

“On our farms at that stage we were working with several farm advi-

sors. We where noticing changes in milk and its components during

a rough spell of weather and the milk dockets sat on the table with the

coffee,” he says. “If we live and farm in the perfect outdoor

farming area of the world then the question is, what changes caused these production drops? “Weather impact on cows can use a lot of their day fed energy…and that was the start of finding a way to look after the herd differently.” HerdHomes has also helped many farmers manage effluent on their farm. Effluent deposited within the shelter by cows simply falls through the slats into below storage bunkers. “With so much time in and out on the paddocks, the effluent created on farm is so high in farm soil nutrients and soil bacteria that 80% of the farm can be maintained on this effluent,” says Pow. He is happy to see

Busck Concrete take a stake in the company. The need of new technologies and infrastructure drove HerdHomes to a 20-year working relationship with Busck Concrete, he says. Busck started in Northland over 70 years ago building a wide range of precast and prestressed concrete products, including bridges, power poles, high rise, farm infrastructure and rail sleepers. Pow says it is now one of the top pre-stressing concrete companies in NZ with seven manufacturing facilities from Whangarei to Invercargill. Busck recently manufactured the new Hobson wharf structure for the Americas cup which was barged from Northport to Auckland.

THREE-WAY BATTLE FOR TWO DAIRYNZ SEATS FARMER Cole Groves is taking on two sitting DairyNZ directors for a board seat on the industry-good organisation. Three candidates have been confirmed for DairyNZ’s director elections this year: Groves, board chairman Jim van der Poel, and Dairy Holdings chief executive Colin Grass, who is also based in Ashburton.

The DairyNZ board has five farmer-elected directors and three appointed by the board. Glass and van der Poel, both farmer-elected directors, are retiring by rotation and have offered themselves for re-election. From September 21, levy paying dairy farmers can vote

Cole Groves

for their preferred candidates. Electionz.com returning officer Anthony Morton says farmers will have until October 20 to cast their votes. “Levy paying dairy farmers should vote and have their say for which

farmer candidates they believe will best represent their views and guide the direction of the DairyNZ board,” said Morton. “DairyNZ levy payers will receive a vote pack in the mail from September 21, so I encourage farmers to look out for their pack, which includes information about the candidates to inform their vote.”

Results will be announced at DairyNZ’s annual meeting in Ashburton on October 21. Groves last year served as an associate director of DairyNZ, attending six board meetings. He is currently involved in a 450cow equity partnership. He has also served on the New Zealand Young Farmers executive committee.

Scan to watch the video 12 months fetal protection helps break the BVD cycle.

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DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

14 // OPINION RUMINATING

EDITORIAL

What’s going on in southland?

MILKING IT... Hero to zero THE UNWORKABLE winter grazing rules facing dairy farmers have not gone unnoticed by another essential industry feeling under-appreciated, postCovid. As NZ Trucking magazine notes, two industries that kept the wheels of the economy turning before, during and after Level 4 lockdown were agriculture and transportation – the former growing the food, the latter delivering it. While the powers-thatbe paid some lip-service to the contribution of both industries, as Trucking laments, they wasted no time hitting both with deeply unhelpful penalties after lockdown lifted – crazy, unworkable farming restrictions for farmers, revenue-gathering RUC increases for trucking. “Remember us? We kept the supermarket windows from being smashed to pieces in the first lockdown,” writes Trucking. “We should start a club with the pastoral farmers. Our journeys of recent times seem remarkably parallel in trajectory.”

Jumping the gun SOMEONE AT DairyNZ got too excited by news that the Government was finally allowing migrant farm workers stuck overseas since March to return to New Zealand. At 3pm on Friday, September 4, DairyNZ released a joint statement with Federated Farmers thanking the Government for allowed skilled migrant workers to return. The only problem was that the Government had made no such announcement. About 90 minutes later, DairyNZ issued another statement retracting the earlier statement. “There was a miscommunication….we apologise for the error,” said the industry-good organisation. Eventually though, Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi’s office issued a statement on September 9 giving government clearance for skilled workers to return.

Battle is on ONE OF Australia’s biggest dairy businesses is back on the market after the Federal Government knocked back a bid by Chinese company Mengniu. Lion Dairy, owned by Japanese brewer Kirin, is now getting the attention of listed Australian processor Bega Cheese. Fonterra, which has a sizeable business across the ditch, hasn’t put its hand up for the business yet. The thwarted sale process is another twist in the worsening trade relations between Beijing and Canberra – an escalating diplomatic ‘cold war’ that went into overdrive when Australia joined calls for an independent inquiry into the origin of Covid-19, thought by many to originate in Wuhan, China.

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Cows and earthquakes IT HAS long been suggested that animals have senses that humans don’t, and often behave differently than usual shortly before an earthquake hits. Researchers from Germany’s Max Planck Institute for Behavioural Biology in Constance/ Radolfzell and the Centre for the Advanced Study of Collective Behaviour at the University of Constance have now investigated this exact phenomenon. The research results seem to confirm the longstanding assumption, and found that some farm animals actually take their cue from cows. “Cows become less active shortly before an earthquake – they virtually freeze. When dogs and sheep see this, they then become nervous and restless,” says Martin Wikelski, head of the research project at the institute. In this sense, the animals are reacting to each others as much as they are to environmental stimuli.

IT IS hard to fathom exactly what’s going to happen in Southland in light of the impact of the Government’s new freshwater regulations. There is clearly great mistrust on the part of Federated Farmers of Environment Minister David Parker, with Feds provincial vice president Bernadette Hunt saying they can’t get through to him on the issue of winter grazing. It is no secret that Labour has an equal mistrust of Feds, frequently referring to them as the National Party in gumboots. Feds see some aspects of the new freshwater regulations as unworkable and in this they are right. Furthermore, they question why such a law was passed with basic errors of fact. We are also hearing graziers are calling it a day, thanks to draconian measures introduced by the Government. The legislation might work on the site of ministerial house in Wellington, but in farming terms is downright dumb. The minister’s answer appears to be, ‘yes there are a few mistakes but what’s the fuss, these can be fixed’, to which the Feds seem to be saying – ‘oh really!’ The problem is that farmers are constantly being presented with new rules and regulations which appear to come out of a text book, or the manifesto of a particular political party or NGO, and lack credibility in the eyes of rural people. Philosophically both sides seem to be on the same page, but many of the rules as written are not implementable on a farm. What is disappointing is that on the one hand Jacinda Ardern is telling the country that government is relying on the primary sector to bail NZ out of the economic crisis caused by Covid, but at the same time the environmental wing of government seems to be stressing out the farming sector. Is this really being kind? And to whom? On the face of it, the PM and her minister don’t seem to be on the same page, and by some farmers’ accounts, probably not in the same book. Prescriptive rules and regulations may satisfy the environmental zealots of society, but government has to get above that, put aside its dislike of Feds and try and win over farmer hearts and minds. Maybe a qualified marriage guidance counsellor should be added to team of people trying to work out a solution to this unfortunate and destructive impasse. – Peter Burke

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DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

OPINION // 15

Election wishlist DairyNZ has released its ten policy priorities for the 2020 election and its The View from the Cow Shed report which provides policymakers with insight from the farm. Here are excerpts from the report… Invest in R&D for our primary sector to unlock more value and volume. For the dairy sector to maintain its international competitiveness and make a greater contribution to New Zealand’s economy and environment requires a more strategic approach to research and development. This isn’t necessarily about investing more money but investing the existing pool of money more wisely through long-term strategic partnerships between government and the sector. Set a clear strategy for science funding that is appropriately resourced to support farmers to reduce their environmental footprint while increasing profit. The current research system isn’t working. It’s costly, cumbersome, and doesn’t direct funding to the areas that will really make a difference. Misplaced incentives prioritise piecemeal projects at the expense of long-term vision and co-ordinated effort. Work with the sector to meet workforce needs through training and recruitment of Kiwis as well as skilled migrant workers. Our primary sector faces both short-term and long-term workforce challenges that need to be addressed. Twenty six per cent of farmers surveyed said that they were rarely or never able to find staff with the skills and experience they needed. Invest in rural broadband and improved mobile coverage to better connect our rural communities with New Zealand and the world. Covid-19 is a timely reminder of the importance of digital connectivity in the modern world. But many of our rural communities still don’t have access to the services they need to stay connected and run their businesses. Develop a national

water storage strategy and invest in water storage to increase water supply in times of drought, enable land-use flexibility and unlock economic potential. As a country there are huge opportunities for water storage to help increase reliability of water supply in times of drought, to enable landuse flexibility and farming within environmental limits, and to help regions unlock their full economic potential. Develop and enforce a world-leading biosecurity system that is properly resourced, learns from our M.bovis experience and ensures everyone plays their part. Biosecurity is of huge importance to our food and primary sector’s future – and for the future of our country. An incursion of foot-and-mouth disease would be devastating for our farmers, rural communities, and our economy. Reform the RMA to reduce compliance costs for farmers, increase efficiency and drive better environmental outcomes. A comprehensive reform of the Resource Management Act is long overdue and would be a positive step not only for farmers but all New Zealanders. The system has become unpredictable and inefficient for applicants. Partner with farmers and support them to play their part to meet new environmental standards. New Zealand farmers have a strategic opportunity to improve local environmental outcomes and meet the expectations of our global consumers – but success will require partnership and government investment. Ensure targets for water quality improvements are fair and equitable, clear, scientifically robust and have pragmatic timeframes

for implementation. Healthy waterways are important to dairy farmers. We share the country’s aspirations to protect our streams, rivers, lakes, and wetlands and are working as a sector to deliver on environmental goals.

Review the methane targets in the Zero Carbon Act to ensure they are firmly grounded in science and align our international and domestic targets by applying a split gas approach to our Paris commitment and carbon

budgets. Last year, New Zealand took a world leading approach by legislating a split gas target in the Zero Carbon Act but failed to give farmers certainty by setting a broad range of 24 – 47% for methane reductions.


DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

16 // MANAGEMENT

Virtual fences signal shift in cow management MARK DANIEL markd@ruralnews.co.nz

WHILE THE PR machine

has been working overtime telling us about Halter and the fledgling company picking a major award up at National Fieldays, up until now, they have been a little reluctant to let people take a closer look. Dairy News recently got an invite to visit the company’s property near Morrinsville as the system moves into the commercial phase, and it would appear they are onto something very different. Working on the premise that everything that happens on farm exists to manage the cow, Halter claims to remove the need for fences, gates and even the farm dog, allowing the farmer to manage everything remotely, saving time and importantly improving productivity. Each cow is fitted with a solar powered collar that in turn is coupled to an application that monitors the cow’s location, physical condition and pasture conditions. Steve Crowhurst, business development manager, suggests the system offers a radical shift in the way the industry operates, particularly in areas such as workload reduction, improved productivity, better animal welfare

and general farm sustainability. The essence of the system is about “retraining” the cow using Pavlovian conditioning, getting the animal to respond to audible and vibration cues from the collar. The training uses sound to tell a cow where it can’t go, or vibrations for positive reinforcement when she’s heading in the right direction. Behind the scenes, an extensive team has developed patented technology called The Cowgorithim that uses artificial intelligence to control individual cow movements and track wellbeing. During our visit, Crowhurst demonstrated the ease of use by scheduling the move of the main mob back to the shed for afternoon milking. Bringing up the distant paddock, he set the virtual break to release to after 12 minutes, at which point the cows immediately set off on the walk back to the shed, with no farm bikes, no dogs and no people required. Looking at the management side, the system removes the need for fence reels, standards or hours of break setting, with the only real need for hard fencing being the farm boundary. Using the app, the user can draw break-lines across a paddock, “fence” awkward

shaped areas and create back breaks if required. Once drawn, the system will then display the size of the area and the amount of dry matter available. Alternatively, the farmer can dial in the number of cows, target dry matter intake and the paddock to be grazed from where the system will guide the farmer to create the optimum sized break or suggested break size. Additionally, at the end of milking and the return to the paddock, the first cows can be kept off the fresh grazing until the last cows arrive, meaning all animals get access at the same time. This is demonstrated quite well in the company’s marketing material, where cows are seen standing at a virtual fence in an open paddock while supplementary baleage is placed on an open paddock. The system can also be used to “virtually fence” no-go areas such as watercourses, ponds or weather-affected areas of the farm. Halter also allows the management of multiple mobs without the corresponding increase in workload. On the pasture management side, Halter uses real-time growth rates, climatic conditions, cow activity/data and historic data to deliver daily infor-

Cows heading back to the milking shed, with n farm bikes, no dogs and no people required. Inset: Steve Crowhurst.

mation to allow accurate allocation of DM per cow/herd, with paddock growth logic eliminating the need for farm walks. Cow health monitoring is also taken care of by the collars, collecting five data points every second per cow, which delivers information on heat detection, calving onset, lameness or general poor health. In turn, the system can automatically draft animals after milking for attention or treatment. Additionally, health alerts to the farmer will allow animals to be drafted individually back to the shed or a notification can be sent to attend to a cow in the paddock.

COMMERCIAL ROLLOUT AS THE company moves towards commercial rollout over the coming months, three farms in the Waikato running around 700 cows are currently using the system, with plans to add more users and wider geographical availability in 2021. As part of a commissioning package, a two-person deployment team spends two weeks mapping the farm and attaching the cow collars and, importantly, training the cows to use the system. The farmer does farm walks to determine grass growth profiles, with the frequency reducing as the system algorithms take over. Commercial manager Steve Crowhurst comments, “in the three and a half years into the journey we’ve not come across a cow we couldn’t train. In fact, they catch on

very quickly, often in only three or four days, although sometimes the farmer takes a little longer.” Ongoing support is available 24/7, while the company is also developing add-ons to complement the current package. Halter is still a little coy about announcing general pricing, treating each installation on a one-off basis. The hardware (collars) will remain the property of Halter and be leased to users, with additional charges dependent on the add-ons also being used. In summary, Halter has taken several animal health and monitoring systems and combined then with a sophisticated animal behaviour element, to hold or move animals as individuals, mob or multiples of mobs around the farm.

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DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

18 // MANAGEMENT

LIC bulls take top awards IT MAY have not been three in a row, but one Manawatu farm has achieved a hat-trick of sorts after winning this year’s coveted Mahoe Trophy. LIC bull Maire Mint Fire-Up is the third winner to come from Maire Farms near Sanson to win the highly-regarded title after Maire IG Gauntlet-ET and Maire FI Golddigger won the trophy in 2017 and 2018 respectively. The Mahoe Trophy is awarded annually by Holstein Friesian New Zealand to the breeder of the locally-bred Holstein Friesian bull with the highest aggregate points for breeding worth (BW), protein BV, fat BV, and longevity and type traits. Maire Farms runs 700 Holstein Friesian cows and was bought by the

FAMILY MATTERS A FAMILIAR name to LIC was present at the recent Boehringer Ingelheim Progeny Competition, also hosted by Holstein Friesian New Zealand. Five of the six winning teams in the competition were sired by three different LIC bulls, all related to each other. Fairmont Mint-Edition sired the first and third place teams in the senior category of the competition (daughters over 2.5 years old) while his son San Ray FM Beamer sired the second place team. The first and third place teams in the junior category (daughters under 2.5 years old) were sired by Mahoe Trophy winner Maire Mint Fire-Up, also a son of Fairmont Mint-Edition.

Rowe family in the late 1960’s. It has been selling contract bull calves to LIC for 15 years. Fire Up’s breeder Craig Rowe says the award is a huge honour for the stud. “It’s something we’ve aspired to for a while as breeders. It shows that

our bulls are really good all-rounders and have lots of traits that other farmers like. To win it (the trophy) the first time was really exciting, but to have three winners is something which makes us very proud.” Rowe credits listening

Maire Mint Fire-Up.

to what farmers really want from their genetics. “I’d like to think it’s because we’ve stuck to breeding balanced bulls that we think are going to be successful and that most people in the industry would like to use,” Rowe says.

“There is no perfect bull, but if you get as many things as you can right in one bull, it makes them more likely to be competitive. I don’t know how long it will be before we win again, but we’ll definitely keep trying!” LIC says its sires have

dominated the Holstein Friesian awards in recent years with the last seven winners being bulls that belong to the dairy co-operative. LIC’s livestock selection manager Simon Worth says the success is due to a balanced

approach that LIC, like the Maire stud, takes with its genetics programme. “While this year’s winner Fire-Up is a high-production bull, it is his combination of production and TOP (traits other than production) in particular that makes him a real hit with farmers, and this is a pattern we’re seeing when looking at what farmers actually want with their genetics,” says Worth. “Farmers don’t just want a cow that produces a lot of milk, they want one that is good to deal with on farm and has good physical traits. We’re responding with the genetics we provide farmers.” Fire-Up has featured in the competition’s top three placings each year since 2017. He currently has a BW of 158.

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DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

ANIMAL HEALTH // 19

Vet, Amanda Kilby says there is never a good time for a pregnant animal to get BVD.

BVD and pregnancy – critical to keep your herd safe AMANDA KILBY

BVD IS a common but

devastating viral infection of cattle in New Zealand. BVD’s most costly impacts are on pregnant cattle and their unborn calves. When pregnant cows are infected with BVD prior to 35 days of gestation, the pregnancy is usually lost, which impacts next season’s calving spread and/or days in milk. Between 35 and 125 days of gestation, BVD infection most often causes the calf to become persistently infected with the virus (a “PI”); PIs go on to shed BVD in their saliva, faeces and reproductive secretions for their entire life, and are the source of future BVD infection for other cows/

herds. When a pregnant cow is infected with BVD beyond 125 days of gestation, sometimes the calf is born normal, but it could also suffer from birth defects, such as stunting, eye abnormalities, and immune suppression, which may limit their productivity, or even mean they need to be culled as calves1. So, there is never a good time for a pregnant animal to get BVD. Protecting pregnant cattle is critical for BVD control in the short, medium and long-term. You can protect pregnant cattle with vigilant biosecurity, or by vaccinating cows and heifers prior to mating with a BVD vaccine with a label claim for fetal protection. Biosecurity for pregnant animals means pre-

venting them from having contact with any cattle of an unknown BVD status (i.e. any potential PI cattle). To ensure good BVD biosecurity, all animals pregnant cattle have contact with should be BVD virus tested negative, and barriers, such as boundary fences with outriggers, should always separate your pregnant cattle from untested cattle. If you share yards or equipment with cattle of an unknown BVD status, cleaning and disinfecting between mobs, and spelling equipment/facilities you can’t disinfect for at least seven days will minimise the risk of BVD transmission. If, like most farms in New Zealand, strict biosecurity isn’t always possible, then vaccinating cows and heifers prior to

mating each year with a BVD vaccine that provides fetal protection can prevent transmission of BVD virus through the placenta to the calf. This means that even if the dam is infected during pregnancy, the calf should be protected. Bovilis BVD vaccine provides six months of fetal protection following the initial sensitiser and booster, and 12 months of fetal protection following a third dose (for example, an annual booster). This is the longest duration of demonstrated fetal protection available in New Zealand. This extra duration of fetal protection covers the herd’s entire risk period for PI formation, and continues to protect pregnancies in late gestation, when birth defects and the occasional late-gestation preg-

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nancy loss are possible outcomes of BVD infection. Furthermore, vaccinating so your herd has 12 months of fetal protection provides flexibility around the timing of the annual booster; if you are a beef farmer and need to vaccinate pre-calving rather than pre-mating, your

unborn calves should still be protected from BVD. There’s never a good time for a pregnant animal to get BVD; protecting pregnant cattle throughout gestation, through biosecurity and/ or vaccination, is the only way to break the cycle of BVD transmission in the

long-term, and to minimise the cost of BVD infection now. Lanyon SR, Hill FI, Reichel MP, et al. Bovine viral diarrhoea: Pathogenesis and diagnosis. Vet J. 2014;199(2):201–9 • Dr Amanda Kilby is a veterinarian and MSD Animal Health technical advisor


DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

20 // ANIMAL HEALTH

Plantain in animal’s diet offers potential benefits NEW ZEALAND farm-

ers can now assess the potential impact and investment of plantain using OverseerFM. Plantain varieties have been used on NZ farms for some time, with positive effects on milk production and in reducing nitrate leaching. Following the comprehensive research programme Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching (FRNL), plantain has been included in OverseerFM as a pasture type on pastoral and cut and carry blocks. “For the first time, farmers considering sowing plantain can compare estimates of their farm’s nitrogen losses

before investing time and money. Also, those who already use plantain can have it recognised in their farm plans,” says Dr Caroline Read, chief executive of Overseer Limited. “There has been a lot of interest in exploring the impact of adding plantain to farm systems or including it in compliance reporting.” Plantain offers significant potential benefits. Depending on the proportion of plantain in the animal’s diet, less excreted nitrogen ends up in urine and urine volume increases, resulting in urine patches with less nitrogen – which is better for the environment.

Plantain has positive effects on milk production and in reducing nitrate leaching. Inset: Dr Ina Pinxterhuis, DairyNZ.

How large the environmental effect is depends on the farm’s situation, e.g. scale of plantain use, amount of supplementary

feed used, soil type and climate. The FRNL programme was led by DairyNZ and funded by the Ministry

of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and research partners DairyNZ, AgResearch, Plant & Food Research,

Lincoln University, Foundation for Arable Research and Manaaki WhenuaLandcare Research. First, FRNL assessed

the impact of Ceres Tonic plantain and other forages and identified that plantain reduces nitrogen leached. Overseer has spent the last year working with AgResearch scientists to translate the FRNL findings into OverseerFM. “Including plantain in Overseer ensures farmers can have the good work they are doing acknowledged as part of compliance processes,” said Dr Ina Pinxterhuis, DairyNZ senior scientist and FRNL programme lead. Further research is planned to better understand the effects of plantain on nitrogen processes in the soil, said Pinxterhuis.

STOP BVD IN ITS TRACKS. With Ultravac® BVD. Proven in NZ. Keep BVD off your farm for good with Ultravac BVD – trialled and tested in New Zealand to protect cattle from BVD virus. BVD currently costs farmers more than $150 million every year1 so now’s the time to protect your livestock and your livelihood.

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Make sure BVD never sets foot on your farm again. Talk to your local vet today. 1. Massey University.(2020). BVD free NZ. Retrieved from https://www.bvdfree.org.nz. Zoetis New Zealand Limited. Tel: 0800 963 847; www.zoetis.co.nz ULTRAVAC is a registered trade mark of Zoetis Inc. or its subsidiaries. ACVM No. A10730: RVM; Available only under Veterinary Authorisation.


DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

MACHINERY & PRODUCTS // 21

GEA’s AutoSelect 3000 is manufactured in New Zealand.

FITS ALL SHEDS GEA FARM technologies says its

Lifeline for field day organisers MARK DANIEL markd@ruralnews.co.nz

FOLLOWING PLEAS

from struggling Australian field days organisations dealing with cancellations brought about by Covid-19, the Australian Federal Government has responded with the introduction of an A$2.7 million support package. The scheme allows each affected field day to apply for A$70,000, while the package also makes A$100,000 available to the Australasian Agricultural Field Days Association to hold a member conference in 2021 to assist with training and recovery planning. The AAFDA represents 21 field days associations with familiar names like Henty, AgQuip, FarmFest and our own NZ National Fieldays Society. Sources within the association say the field days play a vital role in educating the community about the importance of agriculture, alongside making a valuable contribution to the social fabric and economy of rural and regional communities. Here, the NZ National Fieldays Society, which was forced to cancel its annual June event and move to an online format, is still weathering the storm, like the rest of the events industry, with Alert Level 2 still restricting gatherings to no more

than 100 people. On a positive note, the society has been successful in its application for support from the Government’s $10 million contestable Domestic Events Fund, with a maximum $200,000 pay out to be made soon. Fieldays chief executive Peter Nation says they are extremely grateful for the government wage support received so far and for the award from the support fund. “The truth is we really want a hand-up not a hand-out, so we are committed to ensuring that $100,000 of the award will be passed to our suppliers, because without the likes of marquee companies, audio visual specialists and caterers there will be no future for the events industry. We are currently in a state of limbo, with a number of events planned before the end of the year, but Level 2 means we are unsure if they can proceed.” Looking forwards, the society is well on the way towards planning the 2021 physical event, which will also be supported by an online presence. In the South Island, the Canterbury A&P Association, which earlier this year cancelled this year’s New Zealand Agricultural Show, launched its own “Show Saver” campaign to help deal with the financial impact it was facing.

Calling on members, competitors and the general public to lend a helping hand, the association raised $100,000, allowing it to meet its financial obligations, while putting a surplus toward organising the Spring 2021 event. Event director Geoff Bone says they were overwhelmed by the support and encouragement we received from the campaign, which even saw Silverstream Charolais

donate the proceeds from the sale of a bull to the cause. “We are truly grateful to everyone who donated.” The association also received additional funding via the Government’s Domestic Events Fund that will allow the core event team to remain on board to activate plans for next year’s show. @dairy_news

AutoSelect 3000 drafting system is the ideal system for separating individual or multiple animals from the herd. Capable of automatically separating cows through a 3-way drafting gate according to user-defined conditions, it is a practical and accurate herd management tool, saving time and labour. Claudio Urzua, technical support manager for GEA Farm Technologies, says that the AutoSelect 3000 is designed to meet multiple needs. “The key feature is that it is modular. This means the components fit all types and makes of milking systems. “It also means farmers can mould the AutoSelect 3000 to suit their needs. For example, the different options are suited to various operations and budgets.” It’s also upgradeable, so opting for the lower-cost more manual systems does not have to be a permanent commitment: some or full automation with herd management software can easily be added in the future. The AutoSelect 3000 is manufactured in New Zealand and specially designed to meet local pastoral farming requirements. Also catering to different budgets and systems, it features four

different AutoSelect options, ranging from manual to high-level automation. Manual Draft is the entry-level AutoSelect option, providing a manual drafting system suited to any herd size. By hand-held remote control, the farmer simply drafts animals left, right or directly ahead for attention. EID Draft enables drafting using EID ear tags. Suited to both small and large herd operations, the system can be managed remotely via PC or smartphone, wherever there is an internet connection. Utilising simple-to-use software, the EID Draft option can also record the basic reproductive events of each cow for better herd management. CowScout Draft is a fully automated herd management system with the added benefit of heat detection and health monitoring features. In this case, the AutoSelect 3000 is operated via the CowScout software – providing an allin-one approach to monitoring and drafting cows. DairyPlan Draft is a herd management tool for incorporating in-shed cow identification, milk metering and drafting, feeding and weigh scale management with AutoSelect 3000 automated drafting.

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DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

22 // MACHINERY & PRODUCTS

Mowers get a makeover Pottinger has redesigned its rearmounted Novadisc mowers to include a side pivot mounting.

MARK DANIEL markd@ruralnews.co.nz

WELL KNOWN throughout New Zealand over the past 18 years, Pottinger has redesigned its rear-mounted Novadisc mowers to incorporate a side pivot mounting. This allows cutterbar adaption to ground undulations over an arc of + 22/- 30 degrees, making the machines particularly well suited to steep inclines, rough ground and for mowing embankments. Mowing up to + 45 degrees by lifting the interlock latch is also possible for short periods. In operation, the mower geometry lowers the mower so that the outer end of the cutter bar contacts the ground first, while conversely, when lifting at the headland the inside end is lifted first, providing optimum protection of the sward. In the event of a collision, a safety breakaway system allows the mower to swing back out of the working position by up to 12 degrees to protect the machine, with a simple reset triggered by reversing the machine to reengage the cutter-bar. Two suspension springs, working in con-

Dry matter analyser

junction with unique kinematics that carry the cutter bar, ensure even ground pressure across the full working width, with adjustment carried out without the need for any tools. The ground pressure can be adapted to suit individual operating conditions thereby reducing wear and keeping power requirements to a minimum. Featuring adjustable linkage mounting pins, the mowers can be hitched up to the tractor quickly and easily, then folded vertically through 102 degrees for safe and compact road transport. The layout is said to provide a clear view in both rear mirrors, while the useful option of a parking stand means the

mower can be stowed in this transport position to save space. With a low power requirement, the new Novadisc 222, 262, 302 and 352 models offer working widths between 2.2 and 3.46 metres, with power requirements from 40hp upwards. Also new from the Austrian grassland specialists is the PRO range of the Novacat 261, 301 and 351 Alpha Motion PRO front-mounted disc mowers that can be used as a straight mower with swath discs, or in combination with an ED tine or RCB roller conditioner. The PRO models are attached to the tractor using a three-point mounting, making them easy to attach, while the cutter-bar is readily acces-

sible for cleaning or knife changes via a folding front guard. The cover also provides convenient access for adjusting the suspension springs, while a central greasing hub on the headstock offers simplification of daily maintenance. Noting that with conventional mower headstocks, only the leading linkage responds to bumps in the ground, the Alpha Motion headstock ensures the entire carrier frame adapts to the ground contours. Each movement controls the frame to ensure a “floating cut”, even at high speeds and over wet ground, which results in less damage to the sward and an extended service life for the machine.

AG-TECH COMPANY Consumer Physics is introducing SCiO Cup – said to be the world’s fastest, portable, labgrade forage dry matter analyser, using near infra-red spectroscopy to allow dairy and beef producers to analyse forage dry matters within a few seconds. The ease of use offered by the smartphone-operated device allows dry matter analysis to be carried out frequently in-field, for planning harvesting at optimal moisture levels, while also keeping an eye on dry matter intake for animals during feed-out. The process is said to be instant and simple, requiring the user to fill the SCiO Cup with the crop or silage, click the button once to receive results on a smart device or

EUROPEAN FARM machinery manufacturer Amazone has responded to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic by developing a virtual tour of its extensive range of precision seeding, spreading, spraying and cultivation technology. CLAAS Harvest Centre product manager for Amazone, Steve Gorman, says the tour enables visitors to virtually wander through the exhibition hall and museum at the company’s headquarters in Hasbergen-Gaste, Germany.

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“Numerous exhibitions and events throughout the world have had to be cancelled or postponed in recent months, leaving farm machinery manufacturers, distributors and dealerships unable to showcase their latest innovations to potential customers,” he says. This 360-degree virtual tour is an exciting opportunity for everyone to explore the range of AMAZONE precision technology, just as they would at an exhibition or showroom. www.amazone.net

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phone within 10 seconds. SCiO Cup supports dry matter analysis of grass and maize silage (green or ensiled), legumes silage, small grains silage and mixed silage. Silage calibrations are seamlessly and continuously updated in the cloud to ensure seasonal and regional accuracy. SCiO Cup also enables users to track past dry matter results and trends across time, per field or feed bunker/ silage pit. SCiO Cup is powered by a rechargeable battery and can scan more than 1000 samples on a single charge. Rugged and shock-resistant, designed for infield applications, the unit comes with a protective carrying case.

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DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

MILK QUALITY // 23

Drenching is used to balance the diet of dairy cows and to provide protection against metabolic and other illnesses.

Drenching cows during milking now common THE DRENCHING process can be fitted into the normal milking routine with ease if done properly, and without any substantial increase in milking times, according to DairyNZ. Drenching is used to balance the diet of dairy cows and to provide protection against metabolic and other illnesses. Products commonly administered include bloat preventatives, magnesium, zinc to support metabolic processes and trace elements including cobalt and selenium. Advantages of drenching in the milking routine include being effective with any soluble or insoluble

product, being economical with very little wastage and being reliable and accurate – each cow receives an accurate amount and no cow misses out. It’s also easier to carry out in herringbones. However, there are some disadvantages: the drenching process can add time to the milking routine, cows require training and it is difficult to carry out in rotary dairies. As new technologies are developed drenching cows during milking is becoming less common. Alternative technologies include: adding supplements automatically

to the drinking water supply pipeline adding directly to water troughs spreading as a dust on to pasture or silage adding to supplementary feed in troughs or in the bail To drench during milking, DairyNZ recommends you to wait until the cow lifts her head, then put the nozzle into the side of the cow’s mouth and release the trigger. “The milker may, but usually does not, need to control the cows’ movement by placing a hand over her muzzle. Drenching should take 3-4 sec/cow,” it says.

COILED LINES Herringbone - two operators THE COILED drench line takes the spray nozzle back to the bail area entry end, ready to be picked up again for the next time this row is drenched. With a conventional milking routine, both milkers change clusters from exit end to yard end. Then one milker goes up to drench the cows from yard end to exit end. In contrast to the single operator herringbone, they do this on the side with the clusters on. The other milker remains in the pit replacing any cluster

that falls during drenching, changing clusters on any slowmilking cows, completing the teat spraying, and releasing and replacing the milked row of cows. By the time that row is out and the new row is in position, the drencher will be back down in the pit ready to start changing clusters again. With this routine there is virtually no time added to the milking routine, the drencher using what would otherwise be almost ‘waste’ time. At the end of a row the drench gun and hose can be

flicked back to the yard end again by a coiled spring hose or attached to ‘carriages’ hung on wires on both sides of the bail area and connected to each other by a long cord that returns each gun to its start position automatically. Rotary With larger rotaries the drencher usually stays up on a walkway in front of the cows throughout the milking, keeping well away from the entrance to avoid disrupting cow flow on the platform. The drench hose is suspended from the roof.

“Do things once and do it right. That‘s why we use Teatshield Active” Jonny Russell, milking 620 cows, South Waikato

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DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

24 // MILK QUALITY

Vat-Man comes to the rescue A VAT OF milk, calv-

ing in full swing, and suddenly there is no power – a far from an ideal scenario for Whakatane sharemilker, Troy

Doherty. With no notice, power was cut off to fix a broken line, meaning Doherty’s vat refrigeration was out of action and the power-

driven digital vat thermometer was of no use. “I was at a loss. I wondered if we needed to call Fonterra for an early pick up. Luckily for

us, we had just done some research around vat monitoring and were part-way through a Vat-Man installation with DTS,” says Doherty.

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“There were other companies, which we hadn’t heard much about, offering systems. We knew and used DTS for other technology – drafting gates, weigh systems – and everything from the company had worked well. They were easy to deal with and we had good support from their technical and support people. Over the years, we had developed trust in them and their products, so it was a good fit.” When the power went out, only the VatMan hardware had been mounted at the shed. Calibration sensor testing was in process and the temperature monitoring and alerts functionality was not yet up and running.  Banking on his earlier excellent service, Doherty says he thought it was worth a shot to ask if the company could fast track the calibration and monitoring. Accurate information on milk volume and vat temperature would, at least, allow him to tell Fonterra how much was in the vat for an early pick up.  “DTS were very efficient, had the whole job done quickly and kept us in the loop around

the calibration process. We got hold of accurate data which meant we had confidence in our milk quality, we didn’t need a special collect from Fonterra and could wait for our usual pick-up time.  The information from Vat-Man and support from DTS meant our milk wasn’t going to spoil and we weren’t going to have a financial penalty.”    Doherty believes the true value of Vat-Man is more about the future savings.   “Now I can go to my phone any time of the day and see information that is timely, relevant and easy to interpret. It is so much more than compliance. The biggest benefit is the extra security of knowing that if anything goes wrong, we will know early.”  Doherty notes an incident from the previous season.   “Last year we did dump milk because of a mechanical alert failure. We had a noisy siren that didn’t sound.  By the time we knew there was a problem, it was a very expensive issue. That was obviously thousands of dollars. With the DTS VatMan in place, that won’t happen anymore.”

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DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

MILK QUALITY // 25

Managing mastitis and bulk somatic cell counts MASTITIS IS the inflammation of

the mammary gland. In cows it is usually caused by bacteria which have entered the teat canal and moved up into the udder. The bacteria multiply and cause a mastitis infection which can result in an inflamed udder. Teatspraying is done to kill bacteria before they enter the udder causing infection. Bacteria do increase in numbers after the milk has left the cow especially in the right conditions. This can cause bacto grades. What are Somatic Cells? When bacteria enter the udder, the cow responds by sending large numbers of white blood cells to the mammary gland and into the milk. The white blood cells surround and destroy the bacteria. They are one of the most important defence mechanisms the cow has to fight udder infection. All these cells are from the cow’s body – they are not bacterial cells. Teatspraying has no short term effect on somatic cells. Teatspraying is an important part of a long term strategy in reducing Bulk Somatic

Cell Counts. Why teatspray? To reduce the number of bacteria on the teat surface by up to 99% and kill bacteria before they enter the udder through the teat canal. To reduce the number of new infection rates of mastitis by up to 50%. To promote healthy teat condition. How can we get the best from our teatspray? Teatspray at every milking and as soon possible after the cups are removed. Mix the teatspray to the manufacturer’s recommendations for the conditions at the time. Check your water quality to ensure the compatibility of your teatspray to your water supply. Know the level and type of emollient in your current teatspray solution (there may not be any). Additional emollients can be added to the mix but should not exceed 20% of the mix. Never mix more than one week’s

supply of made-up teatspray at one time. Use well designed teatspraying equipment to aid good application. Ensure you and your staff spray the complete teat area. The front quarter is regularly the one that is missed and in trials is the most common quarter to have mastitis. Teat condition Bacteria control on teats has a lot to do with the teat condition. If your cows’ teats are in good condition then there are no nooks and cracks for the bacteria to hide in and evade contact with the teatspray. The addition of emollient at the right levels, especially in the spring, will enhance teat condition right from when a cow starts being milked. You should aim for at least 17% emollient level in the mix until calving has finished. The emollient also adds a cling factor to the teatspray which enables it to form a drip over the teat end, sealing the teat canal until it closes naturally after milking. • Article sourced from Farmlands.co.nz

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Teatspray after every milking to keep mastitis under control.

TIPS TO HELP CONTROL THE SPREAD OF MASTITIS AND MANAGE BULK SOMATIC CELL COUNTS Use dry cow treatment on the last day of milking. Always have a machine test done at least once a year. Teatspray after every milking. Teatspray as soon after the cups come off as practical. Use an appropriate amount of glycerine in your spring teatspray mix. Teat condition is paramount. Run a separate mastitis herd and always milk these last. Avoid using test buckets if you can because the chance of cross infection to the next cow is far greater using test buckets or quarter milkers. Always strip all four quarters to make sure a cow is free from mastitis before she goes in

With active ingredients such as Manuka honey, Allantoin and Aloe Vera, our teat care range keep teats supple and healthy, ensuring your herd perform to their full potential, with less lost days in-milk, penalties and on-farm costs.

the milking herd. Consider foremilk stripping all cows in the milking herd once a week in the first month of lactation. If you are stripping cows, keep hands sanitised from one infected cow to the next. Only have staff with experience looking for infected cows. Have a clearly defined and understandable marking system for infected cows. Use the right antibiotic treatment; if you are unsure of the bacteria you are treating, have a sample analysed by your vet. Do not under milk or over milk cows. Always break vacuum before taking the cups off a cow. Change liners at regular intervals – 2500 cow milkings

Want to actively boost your herd’s performance this season? Call FIL 0508 434 569.


DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

26 // MILK QUALITY

It takes up to two weeks for most heifers to establish a quiet response to milking.

Strategy to reduce heifer mastitis FIRST-CALVERS ARE

more prone to mastitis than older cows. According to DairyNZ, farmers must choose a strategy that best suits their herd, farm team, and budget. There are several options for reducing heifer mastitis, such as treating with an internal teat sealant, applying teat

spray before calving, or milking heifers within 12 hours of calving. It takes up to two weeks for most heifers to establish a quiet response to milking. It is important to be patient and gentle during this period to maximise production, minimise milking times, and reduce the risk of injury.

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Taking care when adjusting first-calvers to the milking routine will also reduce the risk of mastitis. After calving, heifers are often uncomfortable with swollen udders, or oedema, and may be more difficult to move, handle and milk out completely. For young cows calving for the first time, the milking routine is a new and different experience. It takes about two weeks for most heifers to establish a quiet, reliable response to milking. Milking staff must be patient and as gentle as possible during this period. This is important to maximise production, minimise milking times and reduce risk of injury to milkers and animals. Extra labour may be required at calving time. Some practical and highly effective ways to prevent mastitis in heifers include using internal teat sealant approximately four weeks before the planned start of calving.

Spraying teats with normal teat disinfectant two to three times per week for last three weeks before calving also helps. Also, pick up calves twice daily and milking animals within 9-12 hours after calving. The choice of strategy for an individual herd will depend on gap in performance between incidence of clinical mastitis and industry targets. It will also depend on costs, potential risks and likely benefits of each approach. Herds experiencing more than 16 cases of clinical mastitis per 100 heifers within the first two weeks of lactation (or eight cases per 50 heifer calvings) should consider ways to reduce heifer mastitis more proactively. DairyNZ recommends you discuss options and potential costs with your veterinarian. Use of antibiotics in heifers at calving time is not recommended due to high costs and the risk of antibiotic residues in milk.

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IT TAKES about two weeks for heifers to familiarise themselves with the surroundings of the milking area, entry and exit routes, and to establish a quiet, reliable routine. To maximise production and minimise risk of injury to milkers and animals, milking staff must as patient and gentle as possible during this period. The first two weeks of milking can be made a lot easier if heifers are trained prior to calving, starting with just walking to the dairy yard and holding them for a short period, building up to turning on machines and walking them through the dairy. Take this opportunity to teat spray. Use of an internal teat sealant in heifers can also provide an opportunity to familiarise heifers with the dairy and yards four to six weeks before calving.


DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

MILK QUALITY // 27

Co-op rolling out new vat monitoring system FONTERRA IS continuing a roll out of its new milk vat monitoring systems. The new systems will support their farmers’ production of high-quality milk and make the cooperative’s milk collection more efficient. The co-op says the milk vat monitoring systems are part of Fonterra’s commitment to help make farming easier. According to Farm Source, the rollout started in Canterbury, Tasman and Marlborough districts late last year. The two-year programme ends with installations in Taranaki and Central Districts next year. Farmers will be able to choose the type of monitoring solution that best suits their farm. The co-op will cover the cost of the base model and farmers can choose to upgrade and pay their chosen solution provider directly for any extra features. HALO, Levno, and DTS have been approved as milk vat monitoring system providers. Fonterra is also working with other providers to understand whether their solutions are compatible.  Fonterra undertook a pilot programme last season with approximately 80 farms in the Waikato and Canterbury. The feedback received helped to validate assumptions about the benefits that could be realised by both farmers and the co-op.  Farmers who participated in the pilot say it helped them make more informed decisions and address issues quickly.  “I have been farming for 34 years and this makes life easier for both

Fonterra is installing a new vat monitoring system on its supplier farms.

workers and relief milkers. Especially the notifications when the vat chiller has been left off,” says Tirau farmer Adam Wainman. Winton farmer Peter Hancox says he’d definitely recommend the system to others and Geoff Stevenson, who farms just outside of Christchurch, says the technology was easy to use. “Really good system, good for watching temps. I’m not a computer buff but easy enough to access,” Geoff says. Richard Allen, head of Farm Source, says there will be benefits for both farmers and the wider co-op. “The technology will help farmers make more informed decisions and address issues, quickly helping them to avoid lost milk or grades. By avoiding grades, farmers will also be a step closer to achieving recognition, including Farm Source Reward Dollars, under The Cooperative Difference.  “For Fonterra, the milk vat monitoring systems will help improve collection efficiency as it will provide more precise information about available volume and milking time. “This will also save farmers time: they will no longer need to manually update their milking time

window throughout the season.” One month after installation on-farm, milking time windows will begin to be calculated using a rolling monthly average determined by the milk vat monitoring system. Farmers will no longer have to manually update their milking times and Fonterra’s collections will be more efficient. Fonterra needs a certain level of volume accuracy in order to deliver the collection efficiencies. Many existing systems do not have volume or at the level of accuracy needed. On-going collection efficiencies will result in savings that will fully cover the cost of this new technology.  There will also be benefits of improved milk quality and flexibility in consistently being able to make products that meet customer specifications. Allen says this kind of support and innovation is another benefit of supplying the cooperative.  “Our co-op sets out to deliver the highest sustainable return to our farmers every day. If we can help our farmerowners produce the best quality milk, and then transport and process it in the most efficient way, it all adds up to the return we deliver to our farmers and their co-op at the end of the day.” In addition to the

volume and milking time information, Fonterra will also receive a Milk Quality Indicator (farms will also receive this). The Milk Quality Indicator is an estimate of the bacterial level in a vat based on the milking time and temperature data. The Milk Quality Indicator (MQI) is determined by a theoretical model using the volume, agitation, and temperature profile. Fonterra says the MQI will inform their discussions with farmers to improve milk cooling systems and milk quality where necessary.  Starting September 2021, once all farms have a base model installed and have had time to review their MQI, Fonterra will use the MQI to inform testing. At first this could lead to more grading and demerits as farmers adjust and improve their systems to meet the standard Terms of Supply.  The application of milk cooling grades will continue to be based on the tanker temperature at time of collection but will be based on the more precise milking times. For example, if the tanker arrives to collect the milk and the temperature as assessed by the tanker is not at the appropriate temperature, the farm may receive a grade as per the current Terms of Supply. 

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DAIRY NEWS SEPTEMBER 15, 2020

28 // MILK QUALITY

Good production needs clean water HOW IMPORTANT is clean water for cows? Farm Medix director Natasha Maguire says offering water that isn’t of good integrity – or unsafe for human consumption – is not good for animals either. Farms have high volume demand for water, necessitating water storage in tanks and, in the case of stock drinking

water, troughs. In addition to often drawing water from natural sources, storing water poses a contamination risk. Bird and animal faeces and debris will eventually contaminate that water. Johnes, parasites and salmonella can all be carried in troughs. Maguire says treating water with chlorine tablets brings it to approved

Because we know how valuable the quality of our New Zealand produced milk is, Superheat is proud to supply New Zealand made dairy hot water cylinders to our Kiwi farmers. To find your nearest dairy or plumbing merchant, please visit our website, www.superheat.co.nz or contact us on 03 389 9500.

drinking standards. She says the FIL Farm Chlor Chlorinator Rods and FIL Farm Chlor Trough Tablets treat the water with chlorine to approved drinking water standards. With FIL Farm Chlor Rods, they can simply be added to a tank of water each day for easy chlorination and reliable low dosing for all water on farm, she adds. “You are essentially producing food, so things should be clean and water free from E. coli. However, there’s more to consider: It makes sense to harvest an economic benefit as well by ensuring that water fed to the cows is clean, preventing many animal health issues. “Adding chlorine to water was the biggest breakthrough ever in human health to prevent illness,” says Maguire. “It makes sense that food producing animals should drink chlorinated water too.” Maguire says chlorine offers low residual protection of water. “You’ll notice that wherever rainwater runs with no light, it turns green and goes slimy. Algal blooms are toxic, the same thing happens right through the water system and in troughs as well. “Chlorine helps to retard slime growth, preserving water taste, safety

and cleanliness.” All it takes is six or seven trough tablets in the trough after the cows have been in the paddock to keep it crystal clean for the next round. A bucket of trough tablets will probably last six months, but the water in the troughs will remain as clear as when you cleaned them. Maguire says it’s also important to avoid irrigation of effluent over troughs by covering them. “If you haven’t done so, getting the kids to clean out the troughs in the school holidays will mean pocket money for them, and a several-fold pay back for you with a supercharged season. “It’s hard to believe something so seemingly trivial is so important. “And we’re not talk-

Effluent irrigation can cause trough water contamination.

ing the same type of chlorine as a swimming pool chlorinator uses. Farm

Chlor doesn’t contain any UV/light stabiliser and is suited for human consumption.” One of

the cheapest ways for farmers to lift production is to have clean water. Lactating cows are the biggest land-based mammalian consumer of water; for every litre of milk a cow produces, needing at least three litres of good quality water. If the water tastes better and isn’t contaminated, it’s of huge benefit because cows will drink more and be less likely to have animal health issues.

A trough of contaminated water with slime growth (above) can be treated with Chlorine, retarding growth, preserving water taste, safety and cleanliness (below).

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Inside:

REDUCING THEIR NITROGEN REAL WORLD CASE STUDY ALIGN FARM S

T H E Tow and Fert

TIMES

VOLUME 5. September 2020

SEE INSIDE FOR | DROPPING UNDER 190KG N/HA | REDUCING ‘N’ INPUTS BY UP TO 33% | CONTRACTING FERT SOLUTIONS

GETTING TO GRIPS WITH CARBON From soil carbon to carbon sequestration and carbon credits, carbon is an area of agriculture that farmers need to understand but can sometimes create confusion. Soil carbon can be considered the holy grail of the farm and is often overlooked for the role it plays in improving production, economic and environmental performance. But what is soil carbon? Soil carbon is a measurable component of soil organic matter. Organic matter makes up just 2–10% of most soil's mass and has an important role to play in the physical, chemical, and biological function of agricultural soils.

THE ROLE OF SOIL CARBON Carbon, along with hydrogen and oxygen, is the basis for all life. Soil carbon or soil organic carbon is the major part of soil organic matter. Soil organic matter is made up of micro-organisms and decomposing plant and animal material. Soil that is rich in carbon has many benefits for dairy farmers including the following: • Provides the building blocks and is a food source for the cell material of all organisms living in the soil. It promotes dry matter production. • Is an important source and major reservoir of plant nutrients. A decline in soil carbon reduces the fertility and nutrient-supplying potential of soil. • Plays a key role in maintaining the pH of soil including helping to buffer the build-up of heavy metals such as Cd, Pb, and As.

• Regulates most biological, chemical, and physical processes in soil which collectively determine soil health. • Helps develop and stabilise soil structure. • Cushions the impact of wheel traffic and stock treading increasing the resistance and resilience of the soil to structural degradation. • Promotes filtration, movement, and retention of water. • Reduces the potential for wind and water erosion. • Indicates whether the soil is functioning as a carbon ‘sink’ or storage facility (sequestering carbon from the atmosphere) or as a source of greenhouse gases.

CARBON SEQUESTRATION AND CARBON CREDITS: Getting paid to improve the environment We have all heard the term carbon sequestration but there is a lot of misunderstanding around what this means and how Farmers can use it to improve their businesses – and make money. Soil carbon sequestration is the process in which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and stored in the soil carbon pool. The draw-down of atmospheric C is only one way to sequester soil C. This process is primarily mediated by plants through photosynthesis, with carbon stored in the form of soil carbon.

Sequestering sufficient carbon can completely offset all environmental emissions, not just agricultural emissions. The sequestration of carbon can have a significant beneficial impact on climate change. This is where carbon credits come into play. carbon credits are an attempt to mitigate the growth in concentrations of greenhouse gases. Carbon credits can be sold as a means of lowering the carbon footprint of a farming enterprise. By putting a price on greenhouse gases, the Emissions Trading Scheme encourages landowners to establish and manage farms in a way that increases carbon storage. One carbon credit is equal to one tonne of carbon dioxide, or in some markets, carbon dioxide equivalent gases. If farms in NZ sequestered 0.7 to 7 tonnes of C/ha/yr, this would be equivalent to roughly 2.6-25.7 tonnes of CO2/ ha/yr or 2.6 to 25.7 carbon credits. Carbon credits traded at NZD$33.55 as at the 23rd July 2020. At a minimum of $87.23/ha/ yr and a maximum of $862.20/ha/yr you can quickly see that sequestering carbon into the soil has a significant financial payoff as well as an environmental payoff. Farmers showing good quantitative evidence of sequestering soil carbon should be able to apply for carbon credits rather than being charged a carbon tax. While sequestering a significant amount of soil carbon over much of the area of the farm

Left: Good quality soil with a high soil carbon component is soft and crumbly. Right: Hard, compacted soil reduces the ability of plants to grow and nutrients to be taken up by the plants. can mean a significant financial return, the real benefit of sequestering carbon in the soil comes from all the advantages of building soil carbon mentioned above.

“The notion that farmers are greenhouse gas emitters for no other reason than they are farming is quite incorrect.” Article written by Graham Shepherd gshepherd@BioAgriNomics.com P. 021 51 5703 | www.BioAgriNomics.com

HOW FARMERS CAN INCREASE THE AMOUNT OF CARBON IN THE SOIL There is a perception that our soils are already carbon rich and it is difficult to increase the amount of carbon further. This perception is quite wrong. Our soils have on average just over 5% total organic carbon which is not high. Remembering the benefits of increased soil carbon outlined above, increasing soil carbon is an important environmental function that can also be financially rewarding.

8 WAYS TO INCREASE SOIL CARBON ON YOUR FARM

3. Maintaining good pasture residual levels promotes dry matter production (grass grows grass) and therefore the production of carbon. This means avoiding over-grazing which reduces the length and density of the root system making pastures susceptible to stress. 4. Developing the length and density of the root system: Farmers can do this by sowing deep rooting pasture species and cover crops, whilst avoiding over-grazing. This will

5. Maintaining good soil structure: Good soil structure is soft and crumbly with good aggregation and allows the ready growth and extension of the root system resulting in the input of soil carbon. Feeding the soil biology (your bio-engineers), promoting a good root system and avoiding severe treading damage and over cultivation will help promote good soil structure. 6. Minimising soil disturbance: Soil carbon volatises into the atmosphere when the soil is cultivated. Avoid or minimise the use of a mouldboard plough, for example.

Dairy farmers, and farmers in general, can increase the amount of carbon in the soil by: 1. Increasing the amount of dry matter produced: Fifteen tonnes of DM/ha/yr produces about 9.8t C/ha/yr. Ten tonnes DM/ ha/yr produces about 6.5t C/ha/yr. Growing more grass through improved soil health by ensuring good aeration, drainage, soil fertility and biological properties and promoting the drought resistance of the soil and the wateruse efficiency of the plant will increase DM production and carbon storage. 2. Ensuring good soil biological properties: This includes earthworm numbers and the biomass and activity of the micro-life. Applying biological activators, or biostimulants, in a Tow and Fert, and ensuring good soil aeration, grazing management, soil moisture, food supply, soil fertility (with a pH of around 6.4), and limiting chemical sprays ensures good biological activity including that of mycorrhizal fungi.

help ensure the sequestration of soil carbon in the lower sub-soil between 400-1000mm.

7. Ensuring good soil fertility: Encourage a good microbial biomass and activity, good soil aeration, and where possible, the addition of nutrients should include foliar spray applications to raise soil fertility. (The advantages and benefits of a foliar application are well documented in the scientific literature, some of which are covered in Volumes 2 & 3 of the Tow and Fert Tabloids.) 8. Applying carbon farming techniques that draw-down the CO2 in the atmosphere, converting it to dissolved organic C in the soil. In addition to the 7 mechanisms mentioned above, these draw-down techniques include: The shorter the foliage above ground the shorter the root structure which can lead to low soil carbon levels and problems such as compaction, runoff, leaching and poor soil health. Farmers need to think about ‘growing roots’, and in so doing increasing soil carbon, to grow more grass.

a. Promoting the photosynthetic capacity of plants, i.e. the amount of pasture cover, cover-crops etc. grown throughout the year. This increases the ‘solar panels’ available to capture and convert the CO2

and H2O in the atmosphere to sugars (dissolved organic carbon) and oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. b. Promoting the photosynthetic rate of the plants, i.e. the ability of plants to increase the rate of photosynthesis and therefore the production of carbon by having good soil fertility, good soil structure, aeration and soil moisture levels, and good microbial biomass, diversity and activity. The significance of the above mechanisms is not as widely appreciated as they should be. This may be due to vested interests and the lack of awareness of how our common management practices reduce the activity of the key microbes involved in the sequestration of soil carbon.

FARMING CARBON: An extension of farming plants and animals. Soil carbon’s importance should not be under estimated and every effort needs to be made, and management practices adjusted, to increase the amount of soil carbon present. I have outlined various ways and means of increasing soil carbon which have many benefits to farming in general including your farms bottom line and the trading of carbon credits, and yet have wider implications for the environment. With that in mind, in addition to farming animals, New Zealand Farmers should consider becoming carbon farmers as part of their everyday farming practices.


reducing their nitrogen ALIGN FARMS DROPS UNDER the 190 Units N/Ha LIMITATION one YEAR BEFORE THEY NEED TO. This is the story of how they did it. Rhys Roberts, Align Farms.

Rhys Roberts, CEO of Align Farms, knew they needed to change their nutrient programme. He and his team changed to foliar application, using a Tow and Fert, across the company’s five dairy farms. They reduced their nitrogen inputs, grew more grass, and produced more milk one year before the government regulations kick in. Rhys Roberts has always been early to adopt new techniques of dairy farming, often trialling different things well ahead of the industry curve. In mid-2019, he was contemplating the future of dairy farming in the Canterbury basin region. His company Align Farms owns five farms and two support farms in the region. It was becoming clear that the discussion in the media, at government level and amongst the public, was increasingly focusing on the impacts of dairy farming on water quality. Rhys could see that there was a clear need to change and adapt the farm’s practices to ensure they were prepared for any future regulatory development. Running a system four farm with a conventional granular-based fertiliser programme, led by the major fertiliser companies, Rhys and his team were putting on between 250 and 280 units of nitrogen per hectare every year. Additionally, the Align group of farms would use maintenance fertilisers including P and K as well as an annual requirement of lime. Rhys started considering how the Align Group could start reducing their use of synthetic based nitrogen products. Rhys says, “We started looking at liquid N alternatives, Tow and Fert alternatives or just making a reduction in granular fert inputs”.

We settled on the Tow and Fert system solely because of the ability of the machine to take granular product in it’s cheap, core form, mix it with water or effluent from our own sources and apply it paddock-by-paddock. A chance conversation between Rhys and Ricky Taylor, a friend and local farmer, revealed a mutual interest in moving to a foliar fertiliser approach. Ricky and his wife Rebecca were wanting to move into the liquid fertiliser space by founding a contracting company. They had been looking at the different application methods available and had settled on the Tow and Fert for its versatility in dissolving N and suspending fine particle products. Rhys made the decision to work with Ricky and Fert Solutions. This partnership would enable Align to test the Tow and Fert system without the full commitment of purchasing their own Tow and Fert. A partnership agreement was made between Rhys (Align Farms) and Ricky (Fert Solutions) and they started on the liquid foliar fertiliser application path, both excited about how this could enable significant improvement in their environmental footprint.

Check out the full case study including videos at www.towandfert.co.nz/align

And of moving to the Tow and Fert system and meeting the restrictions soon to be in place Rhys says,

Align Clearview is set on the banks of the Ashburton River, flanked by the Southern Alps.

for me it (moving to the Tow and Fert system) has moved out of the too hard basket and into the no-brainer basket.

LOFTY GOALS: Reducing nitrogen inputs by up to 33% without reducing outputs. Rhys and the Align Farms team had set themselves a goal of reducing their synthetic nitrogen inputs in year one by 200 tonne. By Christmas 2019, they were on target having reduced N inputs by 100 tonnes. By the end of May, after a long and hot summer, their total reduction in nitrogen inputs was 160 tonnes. “The only reason we missed our target was due to the warmer weather in May. We ended up doing 3 weeks extra of N application, so we made an overall reduction of 160 tonne. Generally, our business puts on about 500 tonnes of Urea, so we have made around a 30 to 33% reduction in synthetic N inputs.” “We have managed to reduce our N inputs from an average of 246 units to 173 units, so there is a range on the farms of anywhere from 150 to 190kgs N/Ha.” With the savings made in the business from the reduction of N, Align has been able to reinvest this money into optimising their phosphate, potassium and lime levels. They have also been able to introduce trace elements such as selenium for animal health. Next, Rhys continues, comes the question of production “was there a drop in productivity on the farm? The answer is no. We didn’t see any fundamental shifts in our production. In fact, our calculations show we grew more grass with the Tow and Fert system.” “Three of our farms were up on their production year-on-year, recording record production years. The test for us is to see if we can do it again. I am confident we can, whereas 12 months ago I would have laughed at you.”

INPUT LIMITATIONS: 190kg N/Ha regulation is a necessary limitation. Like any farmer, Rhys was concerned about the possibility of input regulations for his farms and the industry, but he takes a pragmatic approach when talking about the new restrictions.

REDUCING NITROGEN INPUTS: A multi-faceted approach to reducing nitrogen use by increasing round lengths to apply less nitrogen. As part of Align Farms nitrogen input reduction strategy, Rhys says that one additional way dairy farmers can reduce their input of nitrogen is to increase their round lengths. As most farms do about 10 rounds of fertiliser input throughout the year, increasing their round length can reduce the number of inputs a farmer puts on each year. Rhys explains “If your round length is 21 days and you increase it to 24 days, or if you are on 25 days and move to 28 days, you can reduce your rounds to nine per year without even noticing any difference. That is a whole round of nitrogen that is now out of your system. It might not seem like a big change, but it is a significant drop in N use.” The benefit of using the Tow and Fert in a system like Rhys explains above, is that you can apply your fertiliser more rapidly after the cows have grazed the paddock and the uptake by the plant is immediate. “The challenge with a granular system is the time it can take to breakdown and become plant available. This is because we may have to wait four days to have enough area for the bulky to do the job, and then another four days to be plant available after the irrigator has been over it.” says Rhys. “One of the beauties with a fertiliser product that is in suspension or dissolved in liquid through the Tow and Fert, is that you are getting uptake in the plants on day one and growth from there going forward. You are maximising your pasture production which is critical on a dairy farm” shares Rhys.

“My take on the legislation and the 190 cap is that we do have to pay for our sins eventually. We need to make step changes and continue to make step changes to be more efficient.” Rhys says, “In my view we have to get more efficient around how we use nitrogen in our systems. One area where the Tow and Fert does work well is you are taking a granular, commodified product off the shelf and mixing it with water or effluent, and using less of it during application.” “To me it’s a no-brainer. There are savings to be made there. So not only are we already in line with the restrictions but we are also making a cash saving to our business and being efficient along financial lines as well.”

TOW AND FERT: THERE IS ONE FOR YOUR FARM CALL TODAY

The reduction in nitrogen use has lead to an increase in milk soilds at Align Farms, Emilius.

0800 337 747


Real world CASE STUDY

Ricky Taylor and his Tow and Fert Multi 4000 apply fertliser in mid-Canterbury.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE: Continuing to make change and improve what they do at Align.

BENEFITS BEYOND THE GROUND: A reduction in milk urea Milk urea is another area that Rhys and the Align team have noticed some big changes over the course of the last 12 months. Milk urea is directly related to the pasture nitrogen levels so when more nitrogen is applied to a paddock, milk urea levels increase.

The change at Align farms has been a dramatic one. With the Board determined to lead the way in all aspects of dairy farming, the early move to improve their fertiliser use and efficiency made good business sense.

For Rhys and the team there has been a marked difference this year in milk urea.

My advice to farmers is that doing nothing won’t do anything. So, let’s make change. Ryhs Roberts, CEO, Align Farms

“18 months ago, I thought that moving from 250 units of N down to 180 or 160 was probably going to be a big push for Align. Now, 12 months in, we have achieved those figures; we have got under 190 units across the business,” says Rhys.

“One area we noticed a huge change, which potentially has a link to animal health and nitrogen loss, is that our milk urea levels were substantially lower,” says Rhys.

With no material changes in pasture production, animal health or milk production Rhys and the Align team are confident in the future of the Tow and Fert system and business in general. “The Tow and Fert system is versatile, pragmatic and does everything that we need it to do,” says Rhys

Across the Align group of farms, the average milk urea level prior to the change to the Tow and Fert system was around 20 to 25mg/ dl, the levels Dairy NZ suggest farmers can expect. Yet for the last 12 months, the Align group of farms have averaged between 3 and 5mg/dl without the expected protein drop.

Rhys says Align will continue down the path they are on to ensure their results are consistent and continue to be realised year-on-year. And Rhys’ advice for other farmers considering their options for fertiliser use and meeting the new 190kgs N/ha restrictions,

Rhys explains, “we are quite confident lowering milk urea will collate to lower N loss through soils and leeching. Provided we can hold the protein level, which we believe we can, we are confident this will improve animal health and then improve the water quality leaving our farm.”

Happy and content cows graze on pasture that keeps the milk urea level low between 3-5mg/dl.

Sam Mallard

Ricky Taylor

DOWN ON THE FARM. Lower Inputs, More Grass & More Milk.

PARTNERSHIP BREEDS SUCCESS – Align Farms and Fert Solutions team up to test the Tow and Fert System.

Align Farms, Emilius Farm Manager

Tow & Fert Contractor, Fert Solutions

Farm Manager, Sam Mallard, reduces nitrogen inputs, grows more grass with more milk in the vat. Align Farms has always liked to pre-empt changes in the marketplace and be ahead of the curve when it comes to technology and farm management. This culture runs throughout the team and Sam Mallard, Farm Manager at Align Emilius, had a feeling that change was coming in the freshwater space in the coming years. For Sam, there seemed to be a prime opportunity for change across the business to reduce the amount of nitrogen in the Align Farm System.

Align Emedius grew more dry matter which translated into more milk in the vat.

Asked whether moving to the Tow and Fert foliar system has meant a change to the Align fertiliser product programme, Sam says,

’We have not changed the products we use at all. We are still using urea that comes to us as a granular prill. We were spreading that on the paddock but now it gets dissolved in the Tow and Fert machine.” Sam says that they could see the mass wastage of the granular urea prills during application onto the soil, “we were hoping for the best.” Moving to the foliar application of nitrogen, Sam says they are now targeting the N being taken up directly by the plant in its leaf, meaning the product is used efficiently and its efficacy is greatly enhanced. “There is also less chance now for leeching of nitrogen. It is all used by the plant as far as we can see.” says Sam.

Continued on page 4

Ricky Taylor, Fert Solutions Contractor, Tow and Fert 4000 Owner. Just over a year ago, Ricky Taylor and his wife Rebecca had made the decision that they wanted to get into contracting fertiliser application in the liquid fertiliser space. They could clearly see that change was coming and they wanted to be a part of that change leading the way on a contracting front.

Ricky applying fertliser on his own farm in mid-Canterbury. Owning 50 hectares of semi-arable land in mid-Canterbury and managing a grazing operation, Ricky and Rebecca looked into the machinery market for the application of liquid fertiliser. They were clear with what they wanted, “we wanted a machine that could dilute or dissolve products properly and handle solid fine particle fertilisers by holding them in suspension.” In Canterbury there is now liquid nitrogen available however, this is dissolved offsite and then the liquid N is transported to individual farms where it is applied through a traditional boom sprayer. This method of application is expensive. Ricky says,

we eventually found the Tow and Fert system and immediately could see the benefits. Farmers can cart in their dry product, dilute it down and away we go. This meant that clients of Fert Solutions were only paying the same rates for their dry product and with the reduction in fertiliser required, would end up making significant savings in their own businesses on a financial front as well as in reducing their fertiliser use.

Continued on page 4


Sam Mallard’s story continued from page 3

Ricky Taylor’s story continued from page 3

NITROGEN REDUCTION: Growing the same (or more) amount of grass.

VERSATILITY, EASE OF USE, GREATER PRODUCTION: Liquid application of fertiliser delivers the goods.

In previous seasons Align Emilius had been using, on average, around 240 units of nitrogen per hectare. Production had sat around the 1860kgs/ha milk solids. The major question in the minds of Sam and Rhys was, in changing to the foliar application of N through the Tow and Fert, would they be able to retain this level of milk solids by growing the same amount of grass.

During his search for a machine that could provide Fert Solutions with their required outcomes, Ricky had been talking with Rhys from Align Farms. They had talked about the potential for a partnership and so with a contract signed, Ricky was able to move forward with the Tow and Fert and begin work with Align Farms as a foundation client.

Sam says, “at the beginning of the season, Rhys would phone me asking whether we thought there was more or less grass being grown under the Tow and Fert system. From the beginning we knew that we were growing the same, if not more grass than we had in the past. It definitely wasn’t less.”

Align Farms came from a solely granular system, but the decision was made to go quite hard in the first year with the liquid foliar application. Ricky says “Align were applying phosphates, urea etc. in solid form. Then we came in and put everything on through the season using a Tow and Fert. They grew more grass and had more production. They were pretty happy at the end of the day.”

On the performance of the farm this year “This year we did 1926kgs/ha milk solids with less nitrogen used. So that is a brilliant result for us.” says Sam. However, Sam is not one to rest on his laurels and, like Rhys, is focused on the future and improving what they are doing already, “Now we have to go and see if we can push the boundaries of this system and continue dropping the nitrogen rate using the Tow and Fert. We need to find where the equilibrium sits.” Discovering that equilibrium is now firmly in Sam’s sights. “Can we reduce our nitrogen inputs by 60% and still get the same results? It will be an interesting season this coming season.” Finally, Sam offers this advice to farmers looking to drop their nitrogen inputs under the 190 limitations. “My advice to other farmers thinking of using the Tow and Fert system is that it is a very good system to help drop under the 190 units which we are now being asked to do.”

On his own farm Ricky Taylor has changed his fertiliser practice with great results.

CONTRACTING FERT SOLUTIONS: Growth and change, two constants for Ricky and Rebecca.

You can drop under the 190 cap without compromising grass growth on the farm whilst keeping your production where it has been in the past, if not pushing it forward into the future.

The uptake for Fert Solutions has been steady. The biggest hurdle has been in changing people’s mindsets on how to apply fertiliser and still get the results farmers expect. With granular fertiliser being the only option for decades, farmers have had it drummed into them that that was the only way to apply fertiliser. Ricky says, “changing people’s mindsets has been the hardest thing.” On the positive side, Ricky says he is starting to see a change, “Farmers are getting there now as younger farmers come through and they know they have to change. The new freshwater policy has meant that many farmers are keen to give the Tow and Fert foliar system a crack.”

The Tow and Fert fits really well with the new policy because you can use less and apply it in little amounts more often. I can see the Tow and Fert being massively used in New Zealand with the change coming. On their own farm Ricky and Rebecca have changed their own farming practices. “It’s a good thing. It has been a good learning curve and playing around with different fertilisers has shown us what we can do. We have been able to apply this with our clients as well. It’s been a fun 12 months.” Ricky says, “You can pretty much put anything through it you want, as long as it will dilute, or you can keep it spinning around.” And on the machine itself, the Tow and Fert Multi 4000, Ricky has this to say, “the Tow and Fert is very well made. As a contractor the maintenance programme is good, as we go through a fair few parts with the nature of fertiliser. Getting parts out of Tow and Fert is very easy. The service from Tow and Fert has been exceptional.”

Milking time at Align Emilius where production has increased from 1860 to 1926 milk soilds.

Check out the full case study including videos at www.towandfert.co.nz/align

For people wanting to get into foliar application and the Tow and Fert system Ricky says, “surround yourself with good people, fertiliser reps, and agronomists who understand it and want to change. I think you will be pleased once you buy one and get into it. You’ll grow a lot of feed.” “Or even better, find a contractor who can do it for you.” Ricky says, with a smile. Contact Ricky @ Fert Solutions on 027 648 6856.

The Tow and Fert range

Liquid Foliar Spray Machines For more information or to BOOK A FREE on-farm DEMONSTRATION

THERE IS ONE FOR YOUR FARM

MULTI 1000

THE BENEFITS OF OWNING A TOW AND FERT:

MULTI 1200

MULTI 2800

MULTI 4000

• Save on fertiliser costs

• Better animal health

• Reduce nitrogen inputs

• Better milk productivity

• Grow more grass

CALL 0800 337 747

or email dairy@towandfarm.co.nz

• On-farm versatility

www.towandfert.co.nz

Profile for Rural News Group

Dairy News 15 September 2020  

Dairy News 15 September 2020

Dairy News 15 September 2020  

Dairy News 15 September 2020