Page 1

Monaghan proud of co-op’s achievements. PAGE 3 NZ DAIRY AWARDS

DISC MOWER An essential tool PAGE 19

Top Share Farmers PAGE 7

SEPTEMBER 29, 2020 ISSUE 456 // www.dairynews.co.nz


“Dairy farming’s not just putting cups on cows, there’s a whole science behind it.” Cole Groves, Ashburton farmer PAGE 5







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NEWS  // 3

Tough times called for tough decisions SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

FONTERRA chairman John Monaghan steps down from the cooperative’s board, satisfied at leaving behind a business in good stead. Monaghan took over as chairman in July 2018, right in the middle of Fonterra’s financial struggles and just months before the departure of then chief executive Theo Spierings. After two years of financial losses, Fonterra this month announced a $659 million annual profit, turning around a $605m loss the previous year. Regarded as a safe pair of hands, Monaghan – backed by a management team led by chief executive Miles Hurrell – steered the co-op back to profitability. In an interview with Dairy News, Monaghan said those were trying times for the co-op. “You never feel good about making losses, but

RETIRING $10-plus kgMS for organic milk. PG.07

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FONTERRA CHAIRMAN John Monaghan says he will remain a proud shareholder even after stepping down from the board. “I have always been proud of the coop, long before my governance roles,” he says. “I will remain a proud shareholder even from the back paddocks.” Monaghan served as Fonterra Shareholders Council chairman before being elected to the Fonterra board in 2008. He will retire as chairman this year at the co-operative’s annual meeting on November 5.

we needed to get on and start making nonregret decisions.” Monaghan says making key changes in personnel was very important for Fonterra as it got backon the road to recovery. He had also come under fire from some shareholders for the two straight years of losses. Monaghan says he had to “block out the noises”. “We had a long list of things to do, including bringing about a cultural change.” Monaghan says the return to profitability is very pleasing. The highlight of the results for him is the $1.3 billion turnaround in profitability. Also right up there is the $7.14/kgMS milk payout for last season, despite Covid-19. Monaghan says farmer shareholders should get their heads up and be proud of the co-op’s achievements. “I’m proud of what our farmers are achieving, their community involvement and what they are doing around the environment.” Fonterra also announced a 5c dividend for last year, after no dividend was paid out in 2018/19. “This year marks a return to paying divi-

dends, a position we expect to maintain in the future, assuming normal operating conditions.” Monaghan says the $11 billion returned to the economy by the co-op shows its importance to the country.

Outgoing Fonterra chairman John Monaghan says the highlight of the 2019-20 results for him is the $1.3 billion turnaround in profitability.


4 //  NEWS

Charter flight explored for ag machinery drivers SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

THE FIRST batch of

overseas agricultural machinery operators could be in the country by mid-October, says Rural Contractors NZ (RCNZ) chief executive Roger Parton. Parton told Dairy News that members are “delighted’ with the Government move to grant visas to 210 machinery operators, mostly from the UK and Ireland. He says RCNZ is looking at a charter flight and is working with Ministry of Primary Industries and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The overseas drivers will undergo a 14-day quarantine before taking up driving. Rural contractors have been urging the Government to relax border restrictions and allow experienced machinery operators, who come every year to ease a shortage of drivers.

Rural Contractors NZ chief executive Roger Parton says a charter flight may bring ag machinery operators from Ireland and the UK.

Parton says rural contractors initially sought 700 overseas operators, including drivers who come to New Zealand on working holiday visas. Some vacancies were filled by locals, former drivers who agreed to help out rural contractors cultivate, plant and harvest crops this year. “We did another survey of members and came up with an absolute minimum of 210 drivers needed for this season’s work,” he says. Parton says the Gov-

ernment decision took a bit longer than expected but contractors are happy. Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi says as New Zealand continues on the path to recovery from Covid-19, it is important “that we strike the right balance between protecting New Zealand from Covid-19 and ensuring businesses have the critical workers they need to help in our recovery”. Faafoi says the border visa exceptions are in response to concerns various sectors for critical

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workers. However, he says the bar for being granted an

exception still remains high. “There will still be a number of workers across a range of sectors and businesses who do not meet the criteria to be granted an exception under this ‘other critical worker’ category. “That is because any changes must still align with New Zealand’s tight Covid-19 border controls to limit the spread of the virus. “We also need to continue coordinating the numbers of people coming across the border with amount of capac-

ity available in managed isolation and quarantine facilities to cope.” Federated Farmers employment spokesman Chris Lewis says it has been strongly advocating for exceptions for skilled operators of sophisticated agricultural machinery key to harvesting and other seasonal tasks for several months. “The pandemic response disrupted longestablished workforce arrangements,” says Lewis. “We’re very pleased that Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi has now rec-

ognised it’s impractical to try and train enough New Zealanders in time to meet the immediate need, though that is the sector’s longer-term goal. “Our sector hears the Government loud and clear on its desire to see more New Zealanders trained for these specialised roles, but until these people are available, upskilled, and willing to move to where they are needed, we need to continue to have a limited number of migrant workers able to re-join our primary industries after quarantine.”

FROM COAL TO PELLETS FONTERRA IS on track to meeting an interim target of achieving a 30% reduction in emissions by 2030. Fonterra chief operating officer Fraser Whineray told Dairy News that swapping coal for wooden pellets at its Te Awamutu site is “a big step” towards the target. The move away from coal at Te Awamutu is part of Fonterra’s plans to have net zero emissions at its manufacturing sites by 2050. Once completed, the transition at Te Awamutu will reduce the co-operative’s national coal consumption by almost 10%, saving more than 84,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year – the equivalent of taking 32,000 cars off the road. Fonterra announced the Te Awamutu site’s move to renewable energy at the beginning of the year, with the site previously using a mix of coal, gas and electricity to process milk. Covid-19 has presented some challenges. Whineray says the arrival of some fabricated parts was delayed by a couple of weeks. However, the decarbonisation project was completed before the spring milk arrived. “We did have some delivery delays with certain offshore components, and I’m pleased with the outcome thanks to our team and suppliers. “It’s really important sustainability investments like this are maintained despite the pandemic challenges.” Whineray says partnering has been important in reaching this sustainability milestone. “We value our partnerships

with Natures Flame and Energy Efficiency Conservation Authority (EECA) – they are integral to major projects like this.” Natures Flame who produces the wood pellets says it is delighted to have partnered with Fonterra to make the change to sustainable wood pellets as smooth as possible. The pellets are made from renewable wood fibre residues (sawdust and shavings) from local sawmills. “We use renewable geothermal energy to transform the residues into a premium and reliable fuel, which customers like Fonterra can then use to reduce their greenhouse emissions. We welcome Fonterra as a customer and look forward to working together on this and other future opportunities”, says John Goodwin, operations manager, Natures Flame. EECA chief executive

Andrew Caseley says industrial process heat makes up a little over

a quarter of the country’s energyrelated emissions. “There’s enormous potential in New Zealand to bring those emissions down significantly by moving away from coal, as Fonterra is doing. “This the largest boiler conversion project to biofuels to date, so our funding via the technology demonstration programme will help to de-risk it. It also has the added benefit of establishing a more viable and largescale wood pellet supply chain.” – Sudesh Kissun

Fraser Whineray


NEWS  // 5

Living the dream on farm NIGEL MALTHUS

DAIRYNZ BOARD candidate Cole Groves says he is “living the dream” as a dairy farmer, milking just over 400 cows near Hinds in Mid-Canterbury. The 34-year-old was raised in a semi-rural district near Auckland with parents who weren’t farmers, but with an aunt who was sharemilking. “I pretty much wanted to do this since I was seven. So I say I’m living the dream,” says Groves. “Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it when you get up at half past four but I’ve always wanted to do agriculture and dairy farming was a passion.” Groves followed the advice of his parents and others to go into farming via Lincoln University, where he won a four-year DairyNZ tuition scholarship and graduated with an Honours degree in Agricultural Science. “Dairy farming’s not just putting cups on cows. There’s a whole science behind it. Even on a small farm you’re a multimillion dollar business with assets and income. There’s a lot at stake,” says Groves. Groves’ progression through the industry hasn’t all been smooth. He was sharemilking on his wife Ginny’s parents’ farm at Pleasant Point when the low-payout years hit and he ended up having to sell his herd. Another tough, loss-making year of contract milking followed.

Ashburton farmer Cole Groves says dairy farming’s not just putting cups on cows.

Then in 2017 he had the opportunity to buy the current farm at Hinds in an equity partnership with the in-laws. They sold off 67ha to a neighbour to make the deal affordable, leaving them with a small-forCanterbury 120ha. “So we’ve progressed though the sharemilking system and leveraged ourselves significantly. We’re really driven on this place to be profitable, pay debt back and get the environmental footprint right.” Groves is part of a DairyNZ Hinds catchment group that has been working together to figure out the best systems to maintain profitability with environmental responsibility. Running the farm with two staff members,

Groves has trimmed cow numbers from a high of 445 by culling the poorer performers. He plans to milk 415 cows at peak this season, as he seeks “that fine balance.” He is also working on reducing nitrogen fertiliser inputs and will grow fodder beet on farm to reduce the amount of higher-protein autumn baleage fed out. “The science around the fodder beet into Overseer is not exact yet but I think we’ve got to just go with it. The major one is that supplement use for us – just using that low protein supplement in Autumn. “Autumn’s your biggest period of nitrate leaching because it’s sitting in the soil, and if you’re going to get a huge rainfall event

it just drains down the bottom. “We don’t apply any fertiliser in May.” However, Groves says new water regulations are “frightening” and risk losing the buy-in farmers had with the previous nitrate reduction goals. “There are 50 farmers between Hinds/Hekeao Plains and the Selwyn/ Waihora catchment that are part of this reduced nitrates program – farmers leading farmers. “That’s a great thing to do, but if the end goal is not achievable, what do we do?” He doesn’t believe there is much science behind a limit of 2.4mg/l for nitrates, whereas there was buy-in for the target of 6.9. “If you make things

extremely difficult farmers will just go, ‘well, I was never going to reach it’.” Groves also says it was “scary” that it took Southland farmers to “really throw their toys out” to get make the Government understand that new wintering rules are unworkable. Groves’ bid to join the DairyNZ Board is a natural progression in a career which has emphasised governance roles and community involvement from an early stage. A finalist in the 2011 Young Farmer of the Year competition, he has been a director and chair of Young Farmers, has taken part in governance development programmes through both Fonterra and Silver Fern Farms and is a board observer for Mayfield Hinds Irrigation Ltd. He is also chair of the National Mastitis Advisory Committee and a member of the Mid-Canterbury Rural Support Trust. In the community, he chairs the board of the local Hinds Primary School, attended by his daughter Ebony, 6, and is a director of the Geraldine pre-school attended by Hunter, 4. Wife Ginny is co-owner of a children’s clothing store in Geraldine. Groves previously stood unsuccessfully for the DairyNZ board in 2017 but was then accepted for a six-month associate directorship.

THREE-WAY BATTLE COLE GROVES knows he is up against the big guns, standing for election against DairyNZ chairman Jim van der Poel and Dairy Holdings chief executive Colin Glass. “That doesn’t scare me. I was shouldertapped by a few significant suppliers to stand, firstly because it gives people options, it exposes me to the rest of the levy-payers and I bring something different to Jim and Colin – I’m still fully hands-on my dairy farm, pretty grounded, hopefully, and I’m driven by what I do on farm, but also driven to make sure that I have an effect on Colin Glass the industry positively.” Van der Poel and Glass are both seeking to retain seats on the board that they are vacating by rotation. If Groves had not put his hand up there would be no election. “In my mind, if someone doesn’t stand against them, there’s no options for people and if Jim van der Poel people want change you can provide that,” he says. “You need to challenge the people that are around the table. If they get on they’ve got the support to be there.” Groves says farmers generally do not see what DairyNZ does behind the scenes, such as its advocacy role around the table with the Government, which he did not fully understand until his stint as an associate director in 2018. Although farmers have recently voted to reconfirm the milk solids levy (currently 3.6c/ kgMS) Groves believes trust and transparency have been lost. Big levy-payers especially want to know where their money is going. “They don’t disagree that DairyNZ should exist but there needs to be some trust and I think just having someone round the board table who actually lives and breathes milk and cows, and the environmental side of it, and the financial side of it, would be quite a great asset for us.” Postal voting is now open, with the result to be announced at the DairyNZ AGM in Ashburton on October 21.


6 //  NEWS

$50m dryer boosts sheep milk exports A NEW industrial spray dryer at Waikato Innovation Park will boost annual sheep milk exports by $200 million. The $50m dryer started production in July and is a commercial partnership between a Park subsidiary and three other investment partners. The new spray dryer sits alongside the existing Food Waikato dryer completed in 2012 and has 2.4 times the capacity of the older dryer at 1.2 tonnes of powder/hour. Waikato Innovation Park chief executive Stuart Gordon says the dryer will meet the burgeoning demand for sheep milk products, with the industry aiming to double

in size year-on-year for the next three years. The new spray dryer is tailored to the unique requirements of sheep milk. “This development is a real breakthrough for the sheep milk industry. “With the existing dryer producing $50 million in exports per year, we’re predicting that the new dryer will produce a further $200 million annually in export products,” says Gordon. Labour leader Jacinda Ardern visited the new dryer last week while on a campaign tour of Waikato. Gordon says construction is also moving forward rapidly on the Innovation Park’s expansion, which will see the

Park’s physical infrastructure extend its size by more than 30%, adding more than 2900sqm to the business and technology hub. With the roof set to complete on October

2021, Gordon says the new building is already filling up with tenants and is expected to be fully operational by the end of April 2021. During her visit, Ardern also visited several

tenants including biotechnology company Quantec. Specialising in identifying and extracting high-performance bioactives from natural products, Quantec develops and markets proprietary ingredient formulations for human and animal health applications. Quantec discovered and patented Immune Defense Proteins, or IDP, a novel milk fraction which has proven antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. “It’s great to have the Prime Minister back here in her home region, to show her the thriving technology hub that is the Waikato, and this Park,” says Gordon.

EFFLUENT EXPO CANNED THE EFFLUENT & Environment Expo, scheduled for early November in Hamilton, has been cancelled. Expo general manager Amanda Hodgson says a lot of work has gone into the event, set for November 10-11 at Mystery Creek, so the decision was not taken lightly. “This event relies heavily on sponsorship and we have decided to be cautious and cancel the event until November 2021,” she says. “There were a number of reasons why we have taken this course of action including recent farmer feedback indicating discomfort and reluctance to attend events and travel to other regions.” Hodgson says there is also the issue surrounding insurance if another outbreak of Covid-19 were to occur, which is a huge risk at this uncertain time. “It’s a real shame to see all the work to date not come to anything, but it’s definitely not been a waste of time. It just allows us to have a head start on next year’s event!” she says. Dates for the next event will be confirmed in early 2021. Keep up-to-date with effluent developments: Watch your letterbox for the Dairy News Special Report on Effluent & Water Management in our October 27 issue.


NEWS  // 7

This season Fonterra will collect organic milk from 74 suppliers.

Organic milk payout for 2019-20 season tops $10/kgMS SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

IT’S OFFICIAL, Fonterra’s organic farmers have become the first in the country to receive a double digit milk payout. As predicted by Dairy News (July 21 issue), the cooperative’s 60 organic suppliers last season have set a record price for cow milk in New Zealand at $10.19/kgMS. Fonterra’s global business manager organics Andrew Henderson told Dairy News that the final price was driven by a combination of factors including organic protein sales in the US, a favourable exchange rate and a number of efficiency improve-

ments right across the supply chain. “This is a fantastic result for organic dairy in New Zealand, it sets a new benchmark for the value of our premium New Zealand grass-fed dairy products,” says Henderson. “It’s something we can all be proud of because, ultimately, the result is a culmination of work put in by a wide group of people. “It starts with the effort of our organic suppliers to meet and exceed organic certification standards.  Then it’s the endeavours of our transport, manufacturing, sales and marketing teams who all help make the most of that milk to drive returns and deliver value to the co-op.” The list of organic milk suppliers is growing.

This season Fonterra will collect organic milk from 74 suppliers and about 25 additional farms are in the process of becoming organic farms, a transition that takes three years. The co-op has set a 2020/21 forecast range $8.50 - $9.00/kgMS for this season. Fonterra’s organic suppliers are based throughout the North Island, with most of the milk processed in Waikato. The Waitoa plant makes organic milk powders and UHT milk, the Morrinsville plant butter and milk powders, while Hautapu produces cheese, whey protein concentrates and milk protein concentrates. Anchor organic milk is generated at Palmerton North.

Young farmer contest kicks off this week THE 2021 FMG Young Farmer of the Year contest kicks off this week. Sixteen district contests will be held throughout October and November to select the eight finalists for each region who will move through to the seven regional finals early next year. It’s unfinished business for many of the competitors after the cancellation of the 2020 season due to Covid – the first cancellation in the contest’s 52 year history. The 2020 East Coast Young Farmer of the Year Joseph Watts is particularly looking forward to

this season and is hoping it’s a case of third time lucky after coming runner up at grand final in 2019. “I was pretty shattered after finding out that I missed out on the 2019 title by 0.22 of a point, and then putting in the work to get through for another shot for the 2020 season, only for Covid to put a halt to that was guttering once again,” he says. “Knowing that the organising teams have had an extra 12 months to come up with one of the most physically demanding, entertaining, and mentally draining Grand Finals for 2021 has given me the drive to put that same time in to

getting my body and mind in the best physical and mental state I can.” New Zealand Young Farmers chair Ash-Leigh Campbell says the 53rd season will be the fiercest one yet. “We’ve got a lot of competitors who are rearing to go and looking to compete for fun, to benchmark themselves and to test their practical and theoretical skills,” she says. “Covid-19 gave us some time up our sleeve to review, change and implement a few operational matters including the governance of the contest,” she says. @dairy_news facebook.com/dairynews

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Awards help winners’ fine tune SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz


Year Sarah and Aidan Stevenson are looking for-

ward to their leadership roles over the next 12 months. The Waikato sharemilkers say it’s an honour and privilege to be ambassadors of the NZ Dairy Industry Awards.

The Stevensons have been 50/50 sharemilking for Sarah’s mum, Sue Williams, on her 100ha, 330-cow Ngarua property since 2013. This season they have also leased a 230-cow farm nearby.

The main farm supplies Tatua Dairy Co-op in Tatuanui while the leased farm supplies Fonterra. Sarah Stevenson says the win has boosted their credentials and also allowed them to fine tune

Sarah and Aidan Stevenson with children Zac (1), Emily (6) and Jacob (4).


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

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their dairying business based on feedback from judges. “We entered the awards as a challenge, to find out our strengths and weaknesses and build on feedback,” she told Dairy News. They are looking forward to meeting other farmers, sponsors and industry stakeholders over the 12-month reign. She says the dairy industry offers great opportunity for young people of all backgrounds. Aidan moved to the dairy industry from building in 2011 and has completed Primary ITO Level 4. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in accounting and commercial law and has been a member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand since 2014. The couple have three children. Sarah says the traditional dairy farmer role has changed and it’s not just about milking cows. “There are lots of opportunities for different people. As a farmer you perform so many roles, you are a vet, an agronomist, a builder, a businessperson,” she says. The Stevensons believe the strengths of their business lie in drawing on their previous careers and life experience. They have a strong financial understanding and back-

ground, thanks to Sarah’s chartered accountant experience. “Aidan’s skills in building means we can consider diversified investments outside of the dairy industry, such as housing,” says Sarah. She says as young farmers life on the farm is a learning curve. The couple have learnt from their challenges along the way. The biggest challenge they are currently facing is embedding their policies and practices into the farm they began leasing in June this year. “It has been a juggling act working out how to manage two positions without being in two places at the same time, but we’re getting there by placing trust in our team of staff and growing them with us,” Aidan says. The couple are very proud they achieved a breeding goal when their first contract bull was purchased by LIC in December 2017 and he is currently being marketed in LIC’s Premiere Sires A2/A2 2020 bull team. Sarah and Aidan love working outside with animals and enjoy the lifestyle farming offers their family. Future farming goals include a bigger sharemilking position or equity farming position leading to the ultimate goal of farm ownership.


All the latest stories and more at www.dairynews.co.nz



Proud to be a farmer – Bertram SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz


Farmer of the Year Nick Bertram says he’s proud of his achievements as a farmer. “We won because we where the best farmers and we are proud of that,” he told Dairy News. The Tararua farmer won the Farm Manager of the Year title in 2014 and followed it up by winning the Share Farmer title this year with wife Rosie. However, animal rights group SAFE made public Bertram’s old tweets, including his suggested methods for introducing the animals to milking and the use of a pipe. The Bertrams were stripped of the title; it’s been awarded to runners-up Sarah and Aidan Stevenson of

Waikato. Bertram says his tweet was referring to a rubber pipe for milk let down, “a very common method of the past by older farmers, illegal since 2018”. Bertram says they will always be the first people in New Zealand to have held two national titles. “We are proud of that…..I’m a kid from town who left school aged 15 with NCEA level 1 and no further education. “I learnt on the Job… and we were able to beat past accountants and lawyers to the titles.” Bertram says the family will “forever treasure” the video they saved of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announcing them as 2020 NZ Sharefarmer of the year. “We are proud of the progress we have made in the dairy industry in a

Rose and Nick Bertram.

short amount of time with no farming family and no financial guarantors. “We have built a highly successful business, we

are proud of that. “During times like this I must remind myself why I am a farmer...I’m a farmer because it is the

job I love. “It was my dream to bring my family up on a farm and we’re currently in a dream job with

wonderful farm owners. I did not become a farmer to win the most farming awards possible.” Bertram is refusing to accept the findings of a review into the national dairy awards saga. He claims some NZ Dairy Industry Awards (NZDIA) trustees and executives knew about the tweets he posted back in 2017 and provided evidence of this to Susan Hughes, QC who carried out the review. Bertram believes he won the award fair and square. “We will move forward with our heads held high, do what we do best, and keep farming to the best of our ability and follow our dreams. “I hope young farmers will learn from the mistakes I have made on social media.” A NZDIA

spokeswoman says some within the NZDIA family were aware of the tweets and this was reviewed by Hughes as part of the terms of reference. She says it released the “findings and recommendations” from the review to respect those involved. She says it’s critical that the dairy industry move on from this event as the industry is just too significant to New Zealand. Organisers will ensure the 2021 Awards programme has more focus on social media in declaration and interviews. “We will showcase best practice and allow entrants to benchmark and improve their own farming practices,” she says. Entries for 2021 competition open October 1.

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10 //  NEWS

Think rural mental health while drafting policies SUDESH KISSUN




ernment policies on rural communities and farmer wellbeing must be considered when drafting them, says Federated Farmers dairy section chair Wayne Langford. “As we move from a quantity to quality form of agriculture, having a clear mind is key and will result in amazing increases in productivity, profitability and passion for farming,� he told Dairy News. Langford made the comments to mark the Mental Health Awareness Week in New Zealand last week. He joined other sector leaders in urging rural mental health to be a priority. Langford, who farms in Golden Bay, says mental health support for farmers and others working in agriculture has improved immensely over the last ten years. However, he says there is an opportunity to increase training through inter-personal skills and personality profiling. He adds that mental Health is a topic talked about more openly.

FEDERATED FARMERS dairy chair Wayne Langford says many farmers told him that the slowdown over Covid lockdown was a welcome relief. “With not many places to go or meetings to attend they were able to spend time with family and tick many of those small jobs off their job list,� he says. However, farmers did have concerns around getting animals

“A common port of call is the Rural Support Trust, however we have also seen an increase of training with rural consultants, DairyNZ consulting officers, bank managers and others. “When a farmer is struggling with their mental health they often feel an overburden of decisions to make. “That’s where we can all play our part to look after each other, reaching out doesn’t need to be talking about your feelings, sometimes it’s just about lessening the load.� Langford joined DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle and Dairy Women’s Network chief executive Jules Benton in calling for more funding for mental health this general election.

off farm before winter with meat processors limiting supply. “Since Covid lockdown farmers have had increased pressures with staff recruitment, freshwater regulations and of course calving,� says Langford. “Stress levels are well above average currently and actions need to be taken to reduce the pressure on our rural communities.�

DairyNZ’s report The View from the Cowshed highlighted that rural mental health is an ongoing issue, with 62% of dairy farmers stating they, or someone on their farm, has experienced mental health issues in the past 12 months. Mackle says sadly the statistics are not surprising, as mental health has been a recurring issue in rural communities for some time, but that needs to change. “Farmers are operating in a challenging environment with a lot of variables – financial pressures, weather impacts and new regulations. These things have a huge impact on farmer wellbeing and confidence,� says Mackle. “This election we want

to see funding for rural mental health made a priority and for politicians to consider the impacts their policies can have on farmer wellbeing. “There are a range of sector-driven initiatives to support farmer wellbeing for themselves and their staff. But whoever forms the next Government needs to come to the party and help move the dial.� Langford agrees something needs to change to improve mental health outcomes for farmers – and it needs to change soon. “Farmers have been under the pump this year operating in an environment with a lot of uncertainty and pressure, whether that be from drought, banks or changing regula-


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Wayne Langford

tions,� said Langford. “It can be really challenging when you’re living remotely, the pressure comes on, and you can’t

see a pathway forward. “I’m a farmer myself and I’ve been there and felt these pressures – I still do at times. If you’re

in that place the best thing you can do is take a step back, take a deep breath and reach out for help. “We might not be able to change things like the weather, but we can change the level of support on offer and the way we talk about mental health issues in rural communities.� Benton agreed that improving mental health outcomes for farmers must be a priority and reinforced the value of having a support system in place for rural communities. “It’s important that farmers are honest and encouraging with each other when we face challenges, and that we build up our communities together,� says Benton.

RESPONSIBLE INVESTOR Mourie – expectations of what ethical Pastures has been named among a dairy farming should mean. The independently audited standard group of 15 fund managers who praccovers grass-fed, free-range, climatetice leading responsible investment. In a report released recently by the change mitigation, human welfare, animal welfare, and susResponsible Investment tainability requirements. Association Australasia Southern Pastures does (RIAA), Southern Pasnot, for example, permit tures was the only agriphosphate from Western cultural investment Sahara to be used on its fund to be included in farms or allow any of its the annual Responsible cattle to be exported live. Investment Benchmark “We’ve always had Report New Zealand. a cast-iron policy of The fund owns 19 not participating in the dairy farms in Waikato Prem Maan, Southern live export trade. We’re and Canterbury and is a Pastures chairman. hopeful that the recent 50% shareholder in Lewis tragic loss of cattle and crew en route Road Creamery. “We’re absolutely convinced that to China will force authorities to recondairy farming should be a force for sider the policy that allows this to conenvironmental, not just economic, tinue,� Mann says. Southern Pastures’ milk produced good,� said chairman Prem Maan. “Our long-term objective is to under the 10 Star standard has been pivotal to the success of the Lewis Road achieve carbon-neutral dairy.� Inclusion in the report means that Creamery grass-fed butter now sold by Southern Pastures is seen to demon- Whole Foods and other stores across strate a leading approach to responsi- the United States, and by Woolworths ble investment that is contributing to across Australia. “When we started Southern Pasreal world outcomes. The company owns over 16,400 tures ten years ago, our target was conacres of farmland and produces milk sumers wanting ‘values-for-money’,� under its own 10 Star Certified Values Maan said. “We’re now at the point program, which was designed to meet where the work that begins deep in the its founders’ – including Maan and soil of our New Zealand farms is paying former All Black captain Graham off on the shelf in overseas markets.�



NEWS  // 11

Bank gives forecast payout 40c lift SUDESH KISSUN sudeshk@ruralnews.co.nz

RABOBANK HAS lifted its forecast farmgate milk price by 40c to $6.35/ kgMS. However, RaboResearch senior dairy analyst Emma Higgins says its forecast remains towards the lower end of Fonterra’s forecast range of $5.90 to $6.90/kgMS as uncertainty looms large on the global market. Covid-19 has brought significant disruption to global dairy markets but dairy commodity prices have been resilient and rallied in quarter two on the back of government support, in the form of government purchases, inventory management and fiscal stimulus for consumers. Despite this, Higgins said global market fundamentals are expected to remain weak into the first half of next year, with consumption taking time to recover and milk production forecast to grow over the next 12 months. “Food service revenues are improving, but they remain well back

Emma Higgins, RaboResearch, expects global market fundamentals to remain weak into the first half of next year.

on pre-Covid levels and it will take time for this sector to make a full recovery, even for those countries that have been well ahead of the curve. “We are also seeing early signs of retail dairy sales decelerating. Ultimately, year-on-year dairy demand growth is unlikely to be in sight for the key dairy-export regions until quarter one 2021,” she said. The potential removal of government support programmes is another reason the bank is taking a cautious view towards the global dairy market recovery. “These programmes have contributed significantly to improved dairy

commodity prices over recent months, however, the outlook for these is much less certain as we move into the final quarter of the year.” Higgins said uncertainty over Chinese demand and an anticipated lift in global dairy production were additional reasons for caution. “Chinese dairy import behaviour over the next six to nine months presents uncertainties. So far Chinese dairy consumption has recovered better than expected, but China’s strengthening domestic production and possible shift in stocking strategy raises questions over its import requirement into 2021,” she said.

“We also expect to see global dairy supply across the big seven dairy exporters – US, Uruguay, Brazil, Argentina, EU, Australia and New Zealand – to continue to increase over the course of this year and into the first half of next.” Fonterra this month reaffirmed its wide forecast range with co-op chairman John Monaghan noting that the impact of Covid-19 is still playing out globally. Monaghan says from a milk price perspective, the supply and demand picture remains finely balanced. “There continues to be significant uncertainties – including how the global recession and new waves of Covid-19 will impact demand globally, and what will happen to the price relativities between the products that determine our milk price and the rest of our product range. “As a result of these uncertainties and given that financial year has just begun, we are giving a forecast earnings range wider than we usually would.”

Ospri, LIC join forces OSPRI AND the Livestock been successfully transferred into ments regarding NAIT compliance for farmers are part of a Improvement Corporation (LIC) NAIT.” OSPRI is delighted to see farm- two-year “MINDA improvement are urging farmers to play their part in improving animal traceability at ers are increasing their NAIT roadmap” designed with the seaengagement with 77% of animals sonal needs of farmers in mind to a critical time on farm. As the management agency for now being registered in the system keep improving the MINDA experience. “This is a further investthe National Animal Identification prior to moving off farm. “We expect the recent work ment by LIC to enable easier and and Tracing (NAIT) system, OSPRI has been working closely with LIC undertaken between OSPRI and more accurate NAIT compliance to ensure livestock data recorded LIC will provide further incentives for farmers. Farmers are able to in its livestock management system for farmers to meet their NAIT make updates to various areas of NAIT recording including calving. MINDA LIVE, is more easily trans- obligations,” says Stewart. “The upgrade provides more These updates will make it clear ferable and can be captured realcertainty for farmers registering what NAIT events are being gentime in NAIT.                                                                                                                            “There is steady progress being animals and recording livestock erated and ensure parity between made with improved connectivity movements in MINDA LIVE and the NAIT and MINDA databases.” “Our MINDA LIVE and App between NAIT and MINDA LIVE,” the transfer into NAIT. It also says OSPRI chief executive Steve means the data held in NAIT will users can have confidence that all be more current and accurate and the animal registrations and liveStuart. “The recent upgrades mean this supports disease management stock movements are transferred into NAIT in a timely manner, a seamless transfer of livestock and national biosecurity.” MINDA is used by over 90% of enabling them to stay on top of movements between both systems within two hours instead of just New Zealand’s dairy farmers, help- their NAIT accounts.” OSPRI meanwhile is commiting inform them on management of once daily. “Farmers will also now receive herds, individual animals and NAIT ted to improving the farmer experience with the NAIT system and is an email notification confirming obligations. LIC chief executive Wayne working with other third-party and that the information about their livestock and movements has McNee says the latest enhance- information providers.

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Greenhouse gases – what are they and how can we mitigate? BALA TIKKISETTY


affects all of us and reducing greenhouse gas emissions must be a priority. Carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) are the three main greenhouse gases, affecting the climate by warming the planet. Carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide are considered long lived gases, remaining in the atmosphere for centuries. Carbon dioxide causes sustained warming for thousands of years. Methane is a relatively short-lived gas that breaks down within a few decades. However, once emitted into the atmo-

sphere it causes a lingering warming effect for a long time after the methane itself has gone. One tonne of biological methane traps approximately 33 times more heat than a tonne of carbon dioxide over a 100-year period. Globally, agriculture is the largest source of anthropogenic nitrous oxide emissions, accounting for between 56% and 81% of the total. In New Zealand, agriculture accounts for an estimated 94% of the anthropogenic nitrous oxide emissions. Each molecule of nitrous oxide is about 300 times more powerful than one molecule of carbon dioxide in terms of greenhouse potentiality. Nitrous oxide is both potent, like methane, and

Bala Tikkisetty

persistent, like carbon dioxide. About 80% of our country’s total nitrous oxide emissions come from urine patches on paddocks. One recent government report indicated that the nitrous oxide emissions have

increased by almost half since 1990. Increases in emissions from dairy cattle and road transport remain the largest contributors to the growth in emissions since 1990. Over the past 20 years, our farmers have improved the emissions

efficiency of production by about one per cent a year. Agricultural emissions are linked to intensive farming. In 2018, New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions comprised of 44% carbon dioxide, 43% methane,

10% nitrous oxide and 2% fluorinated gases. The agriculture and energy sectors were the two largest contributors to New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions, at 48% and 41% respectively. Methane emissions are higher on farms with higher stocking rates and higher dry-matter consumption. Some of the options to reduce methane are lowering replacement rates, reducing the dry matter feed per cow, and lowering stocking rates. Nitrous oxide gas generally comes from the conversions in the soil by microbes of nitrogen in fertilisers, urine and dung. When soils become anoxic, nitrate can be sequentially reduced to

nitrous oxide and inert nitrogen. This is called denitrification. Minimising human induced erosion and maintaining good soil quality are essential for maintaining soil ecosystem services such as nutrient and water buffering, productive capacity, assimilating waste and minimising impacts of sediment and other contaminants on water bodies. The options for reducing nitrous oxide could be reducing nitrogen inputs through judicious use of fertilisers, using low nitrogen feeds and improving pasture quality. • Bala Tikkisetty is a sustainable agriculture advisor (technical) at Waikato Regional Council







Nicola Shadbolt says the milk price is the result of a delicate balance between supply and demand, and predicting both is always difficult.

Is dairying still in the driver’s seat? NICOLA SHADBOLT

THE IFCN (International Farm

Comparison Network in dairying) has been around for over 20 years but this year due to Covid-19 it got a lot more active. The absolute benefit of being unable to travel for the networkers in IFCN this year has been the fact that our contact has not been restricted to the one annual conference. We met weekly from March up to the conference and are meeting monthly still, comparing what is happening in our respective countries, what farmers are coping with, how supply has been impacted and how consumers, government and markets are reacting. It has been very interesting to hear the varying responses and recoveries at both farm and consumer levels from across the network. Last week the research networkers were able to join the IFCN supporters for their annual conference, which resulted in over 600 dairy people online sharing their views – researchers, farm input firms, farmers, processors from across the world. You can follow their output on https:// www.linkedin.com/company/ifcn/. Back in June after the annual conference of the IFCN that was held, of course, on Zoom, I posted what I saw as a complex jigsaw of events underscored by an increased use and recognition of dairy nutrients in the home. Since then lockdown constraints have lifted in many countries and dairy has settled into a more familiar rhythm. As is always the case, the price

we get for our milk is the result of a delicate balance between supply and demand, and predicting both is always difficult. On top of this, only 7-9% of milk is traded globally so in such a thinly traded market, price volatility is common. Most countries shared a sharp uplift in retail demand under lockdown, with many networkers sharing personal stories like ‘am doing so much baking, using more butter than ever!’ However, some product sales did not increase and were also hit by the sharp decrease in food service demand; high end cheeses struggled to sell, people weren’t going out and they weren’t entertaining either, this speciality milk was dumped or diverted to fresh milk sales. Other media stories of farmers dumping milk were due to processors not having the ability to switch quickly to the smaller packaging required for retail sales, a similar issue arose in NZ with flour. The demand from food service varied from country to country, from those where food delivery through lockdown saw increases in cheese sales on pizzas to those where the absence of cafes led to a decrease in liquid milk sales, not always matched by the increasing demand in retail. Supply looked as though it was going to be compromised at first as some northern hemisphere countries were asking farmers to reduce production just as their spring calving cows were heading to peak production. Those countries are still showing signs of diminished supply this year, but others are not and, with higher milk prices, are increasing supply. Both NZ and Australia have

had mild winters and good calving weather so global supply looks set for a reasonable year. As the impact of Covid-19 begins to unfold, the demand dynamic gets more complicated. In countries like India where milk consumption is very closely related to income levels, decreases in demand are challenging their ability to maintain an equilibrium of supply and demand, surplus milk being turned into milk powder. In Russia, income uncertainty has resulted in a drop in cheese consumption with several small cheese factories closing and imports decreasing. However, the emphasis on health continues to drive demand for dairy nutrients, maintaining prices as reflected in the futures markets. Yet the analysts persist in forecasting a very different future to the markets, this anomaly is a first for me. Is it that analysts are just more pessimistic or that the markets have got it wrong? Only time will tell. Another first is that oil and milk prices have got divorced, or is it just a temporary separation? Again, only time will tell. At the IFCN supporters’ conference they asked the 600+ participants what the dairy demand in 2021 might be. The results are interesting, an almost equal split between an increase and a decrease in demand. Historically demand has been growing at about 2% a year. This projection would be for a lower amount, on average. Again, only time will tell. • Nicola Shadbolt is Professor of Farm and Agribusiness Management at Massey University and a former Fonterra director. @dairy_news facebook.com/dairynews

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Time for a change?

MILKING IT... Wealth Tax SO WILL NZ end up with a wealth tax? The Greens says its wealth tax policy is a “bottom line” for a LabourGreens Government. The party plans to make Kiwis with a net worth greater than $1 million pay one percent of their wealth to the Government as a tax. Those worth more than $2m would pay out 2% of their wealth as tax. Some have questioned whether the Greens, who have ruled out working with National, actually have any leverage to demand a “bottom line”. Still, the prospect of a wealth tax could spook the middle classes and it has drawn heavy criticism from the centre right parties, making it a potential election headache for Labour. Will Jacinda Ardern rule out a wealth tax like she did for a capital gains tax when it became a political hot potato last year?

Sale under scrutiny THE SALE of one New Zealand’s oldest dairy cooperatives will be in the spotlight this week. The Government’s involvement in the decision to approve the sale of Westland Milk Products to Hong Kong Jingang Trade Holding Ltd, a company wholly owned by Chinese conglomerate Inner Mongolian Yili Industrial Group, will come under scrutiny in the High Court this week. The hearing of Social Credit’s judicial review of last year’s Overseas Investment Office decision to approve the sale starts Monday. Social Credit’s position is that the OIO applied the wrong legal test. It wants Hong Kong Jingang’s consent to be declared to be unlawful and potentially invalid. Milking It hopes the Westland executives who did the deal haven’t spent the big bonuses they got – they might have to give them back!

Eyes have it PAINTING EYES on the backsides of cows could save their lives, according to new research by Australian scientists. But don’t expect any New Zealand cows to be changing their appearance any time soon. The move is designed to protect the stock from predators like lions and leopards. Not many of them roaming the backblocks of NZ. Researchers from NSW University worked with farmers in the Okavango Delta region of Botswana to paint cattle in 14 herds that had recently suffered lion attacks. They painted onethird of each herd with an artificial eyespot design on the rump, one-third with simple cross-marks and left the rest of the herd unmarked. They found that cattle painted with fake eyes were significantly more likely to survive than unpainted or cross-painted control cattle within the same herd during the fouryear study.

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Walkers versus cows A NORTH Yorkshire teacher has become at least the second member of the public to be trampled to death by cows in the UK this year. The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) is now urging walkers to let their dogs off their leads if they are charged by cattle. Dave Clark, the deputy head teacher at Richmond school, was killed in a field recently while walking his dogs. He is at least the second member of the public to be killed by cows while dog walking this year. An 82-year-old man was trampled to death in front of his wife near Ingleton, in the Yorkshire dales, in June. Between March 2000 and March 2020, 98 people were killed by cattle in the UK, according to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Of those, 22 were members of the public, with the rest being either farmers or farm workers.

THIS YEAR has been a difficult and challenging time not just for farmers, but for all New Zealanders. For the farming industry, changing regulations, uncertainties about staffing and a difficult financial outlook top the list. Add to that changing weather patterns and high levels of debt: all these factors impact their mental health and wellbeing. Last week, the country marked Mental Health Awareness Week. Dairy industry stakeholders called on politicians to make rural mental health a priority. DairyNZ’s report, The view from the Cowshed, released last month paints a sad picture. Sixty two percent of farmers said that they or someone on their farm had experienced mental health issues over the last year. The biggest causes of mental health challenges cited by dairy farmers: 60% said regulation changes, 59% said financial concerns and 59% said the perception of dairying in the media and with the public. When asked which issues were most likely to keep them awake at night, 42% of farmers said changing regulations, 19% of farmers said the farm’s finances. DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says sadly the statistics are not surprising as mental health has been a recurring issue in rural communities for some time, but that needs to change. He says farmers are operating in a challenging environment with a lot of variables – financial pressures, weather impacts and new regulations. These things have a huge impact on farmer wellbeing and confidence. Politicians can play a role. Firstly, they can make funding for rural mental health a priority. Secondly, politicians must consider the impacts their policies can have on farmer wellbeing. Poorly thought-out policies like the recent Southland winter grazing restrictions can cause immense grief and anxiety to farmers, most of whom are top custodians of the land. The farming industry is often very isolated and farmers operate with a lot of issues outside their control. It is easy for things to get on top of them quickly, and if something goes wrong it can be pretty dire. The last thing they need is poorly thought-out policies from Wellington. The farming industry also has an unenviable record of deaths related to mental health issues, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Farmers do a good job of looking out for family, mates and neighbours. However, politicians must come to the party. Something needs to change to improve mental health outcomes for farmers and it needs to change soon, starting with a change in attitude from politicians.

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OPINION  // 15

Stop making decisions for farmers PETER BUCKLEY

FROM MY observa-

tions of general media reporting it seems that in today’s world no one wants to take responsibility for their actions and more often than not seek to blame others for the results of their actions. This is the case for private persons, government and their departments, councils and social organisations in a large portion of reports. The majority seem to want someone else to take responsibility for their actions or lack of action. Some in government want even more control because they believe the government can fix things through legislation. The problem with the government growing bigger, passing more legislation (much of it being a form of social engineering) and enforcing that legislation is that it takes responsibil-

ity away from the people who should hold that responsibility. This then breeds a system where the people become dependent on the government providing direction and assistance and losing the ability to make decisions and provide for themselves. This interference in people’s lives by the government should stop. Allow the people – businesses and society – to make their own way in this world. There was a classic example of this ‘government knows best’ thinking shown with the Green Party’s announcement of its Farming for the Future Plan. Co-leader of the Greens, James Shaw, said at the launch of their plan, “the reality is that the way we currently farm is accelerating climate change”. He also announced that the Greens would put in

place a dedicated fund for farming that would move farmers to low emissions agriculture with things like a levy on artificial fertilisers, strengthened animal welfare rules and a ban on palm kernel feed. In fact, when it comes to the environment the majority of farmers are already taking action to improve their impacts. New Zealand farmers produce some of the cheapest and best animal protein in the world with one of the lowest carbon footprints of any farmers in the world.

The Greens’ proposed fertiliser levy would be just another tax on farmers, another problem for them to solve, but also mean less money for the struggling rural communities that support farmers. But the Greens say all the money is going back to farmers to support the transition and this plan combined with the current Government’s funding for the clean-up of rivers would equal a billion dollars of support for cleaner farming. So in fact we have the government saying they

will take responsibility from the farmers and they will take their contributions and decide what they will be spent on, in a programme of support for farmers and growers. What they don’t mention anywhere is the costs that this support programme will incur and the percentage of the taxes that will be needed to manage this support program, or who will be the practical experts that will make the decisions as to how and where this program will actually spend the farmers’ money.

Northland, Auckland - Greg Chalmers 027 436 2337

Southern North Island - Tony Polkinghorne 021 671 616

Waikato, BOP, King Country - Graeme Robb 021 337 977

Canterbury & West Coast - Chris Johnston 021 281 3285

So now we have gone from people not wanting to take responsibility for their own actions, to the Government saying we will take responsibility because we don’t trust you to do the job right (‘Trust us we know what we’re doing!’ Yeah, right). The majority of farmers have taken action and there are many examples of this action, with one of the most obvious being farmers, at their own expense and without any government compulsion, fencing approximately 98% of waterways to prevent stock entry. There is more that can and should be done but it must be remembered that farmers and growers still have to be able to survive and make a profit if we are going to be able to produce enough food and fibre to both feed our population and to export for sale, to fund our extremely heavy borrowing as a result of the mea-

sures taken in response to Covid-19. The idea that government can do a better job of controlling farming and managing spending through targeted taxes and support programmes is really something that is so far in left field that it should never have seen the light of day. As we have said many times, there is already far too much nonproductive bureaucracy in our governments (both local and central) without ridiculous schemes such as this that will need to increase non-productive bureaucracy to manage them. The best practical option is to put in place sensible science-based rules and then step back and allow the farmers and growers to take responsibility for their own decision making • Peter Buckley is a board member Primary Land Users Group.

Southland & Otago - Luke Holmes 021 636 654

Claw and Beetall are Trademarks of Orion AgriScience Ltd. Registered pursuant to the ACVM Act 1997, No P5693, P9371. No. Approved pursuant to the HSNO Act 1996, No. HSR101171, No. HSR101235, No. HSR100753. ®Beetron and Mighty are Registered Trademarks of Orion AgriScience Ltd. See www.foodsafety.govt.nz for registration conditions. See www.epa.govt.nz for approval conditions.



Work experience helps fresh talent into dairying GILLIAN SAICH from Invercargill is new to dairy farming and was thrilled when a dairy farmer offered her work experience on his farm. Gillian recently finished DairyNZ’s GoDairy Farm Ready Training, designed to give Kiwis throughout New Zealand entry level training to work on dairy farms. After the training, dairy farmer Edwin Mabonga from Otautau offered Gillian two weeks’ work experience and she jumped at the chance. “It’s been brilliant to get hands-on experience. I have learned so much and have been involved in lots of aspects on the farm, including calving and

milking,” she says. Gillian comes from an urban background, with a work history in bookkeeping, but the opportunity to work in the dairy sector attracted her interest. “It’s a great sector with fabulous people. I found the GoDairy training really helpful. “I learned a lot about cows, including their anatomy, behaviour and preferences when you’re working with them,” said Gillian. “I also learned how to drive a motorbike, quad bike, side by side (LUV) and tractor, which I’ve never done before. It has really given me confidence to approach farmers for work.”

Gillian Saich with farmer Edwin Mabonga.

For others considering getting into dairy training, Gillian says: “Go for it! There are many facets to working on a dairy farm, so you will never get bored. There are also

a wide range of roles at every skill level.” Edwin says he finds it is very satisfying giving people a chance to pick up skills. He has hired a number of people new

to dairy farming over the years. “It’s great to watch people learning new skills and developing their confidence,” he said. Edwin has four full-

time staff members and hires casual staff over calving. His 250ha farm has 850 cows and he is a DairyNZ Dairy Environment Leader. Edwin and DairyNZ are encouraging farmers to give work experience to trainees from the GoDairy Farm Ready Training programme, to help them get started in dairy jobs. DairyNZ people team leader Jane Muir said it’s important the sector gives people coming through the training an opportunity to get started in the sector. “The only way people get experience on farm is if people give them a go in the first place,” Jane said. “The feedback we are

getting from farmers who have hired GoDairy trainees is that they are enthusiastic and get stuck into the work. Farmers have told us they are pleased with the skills those people have learned in the training and understand they will build on that knowledge with ongoing on-the-job training.” The GoDairy campaign offers Kiwis three weeks of training covering stockmanship, farm equipment and vehicle safety. The first week is online training and the second two weeks of practical training are being held in regions around the country. Farmers can visit dairynz.co.nz/godairy


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TB outbreak impacting farm’s winter grazing MARK DANIEL markd@ruralnews.co.nz

THE DISCOVERY of bovine tuberculosis in the Hawke’s Bay meant St. Peters School’s Owl Farm had to rethink this season’s heifer management strategy. With their regular grazier losing access to land for around 1000 head, the 90 calves from Owl Farm needed an alternative, which eventu-

the land, allowing the heifers to graze the new grass in autumn. The location also allows Buckley to keep a closer eye on the youngsters: weighing them regularly and checking they are on track to meet targets, carrying out vet checks and intervening with feed if the summer turns dry. “It is also a great chance to involve St Peter’s School students in a new learning opportu-

“Aside from the extra feed demand, we also had to factor in the extra demands on labour and infrastructure, and in summer the calves will need feed that contains more energy and protein than our pasture can provide.” ally appeared much nearer home. Making sure the milking herd was not impacted and not wishing to reduce herd numbers or feed allocation, the operation set about investigating how they could provide the extra 3 kgDM/ ha/day the calves would add to the farm’s daily demand over the summer months. “Aside from the extra feed demand, we also had to factor in the extra demands on labour and infrastructure, and in summer the calves will need feed that contains more energy and protein than our pasture can provide,” says Jo Sheridan, Owl Farm demonstration manager. “In our opinion, the benefits of having them at home outweighed any drawbacks,” says Tom Buckley, Owl Farm manager. “We have a support block adjoining the milking platform that is further away from the shed, meaning we find we don’t get good pasture utilisation when the cows graze there, so it will suit the heifers better.” Initially intended for silage, the farm has bought silage to free up

nity too,” adds Sheridan. “Some of the students adopted a calf in spring, now they will be able to follow them through the whole season, and be involved in regular activities, like weighing.” On the feeding front, the alternatives included buying in feed – silage and PKE, and/or planting a specialist crop that would fill the summer gap, such as chicory or a brassica crop. Choosing to plant chicory on an area of about 4ha, the heifers can be rotationally grazed and supplemented with 20 to 30% silage. This will help create a complete diet for growing the young animals, with chicory offering a high protein feed of 11.5-13 MJME/kgDM and CP of 20-26%DM. Additional benefits also mean that as the heifers won’t be grazing pasture in the summer, their exposure to facial eczema is greatly reduced. On the negative front, being a more intensive system, there will be break fencing, additional feed costs and the need to supply adequate fresh water and silage every day. Although the switch to on-farm grazing will allow the farm to cope with the changes thrust upon

them this season, the long term intention is to continue grazing the heifers off farm, but the exer-

cise in successful home grazing will help broaden future options in a changing season.

A TB outbreak in Hawke’s Bay meant Cambridge’s St Peters School’s Owl Farm had to rethink this season’s heifer management strateghy.








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LIC’s AB technicians hit the road to get cows pregnant EACH YEAR about 900 of LIC’s qualified AB technicians (AB techs) visit farms in their local area, artificially inseminating thousands of cows between September and January. Their aim is getting cows pregnant to continue-on in their farmer’s milking herd and produce the next generation cow. LIC’s AB technicians are paid at a piece rate meaning they get paid for every insemination they complete so good money can be made in a relatively short period of time. However, it’s dependent on experience, ability, the amount of time they’re able to work and where they live in New Zealand. It’s a varied and rewarding role that attracts people from all walks to life and LIC is now seeking recruits for the coming season. The ability to earn extra money in an industry he loves was a strong motivator for one longserving LIC AB tech Paul McCarthy, who first trained in 1978 as a 20-year-old (seeking to supplement the income he was earning as a firsttime sharemilker). He’s now been working for LIC for nearly 40 years.

Left to right with dad Paul McCarthy are daughters Laura, Anita and Erin.

Paul and his wife Johanna own a 134ha dairy farm in Galatea in the eastern Bay of Plenty but Paul retains his work as a seasonal AB tech because he loves it, and because it’s somewhat of a family vocation. “My brother-in-law works as an LIC AB tech near Ashburton, with the job becoming and even bigger family affair since my three youngest daughters – Anita, 31, Laura, 30, and Erin, 28 – all fullyqualified as AB tech’s with

LIC about five years ago,” he says. Paul says that there is financial gain to be made, however it’s no easy ticket getting there, especially if you’re working two jobs as Anita and Erin are. “Laura only just got through because there’s a height and length-ofarm criteria for the job. But she just got in and did her apprenticeship in the South Island where you’re dealing with large Friesians and she was able to inseminate those big


cows. She’s a very determined person.” The training process Trainees go through an initial two-week training course with LIC which includes working on an artificial cow and a visit to a freezing works to work on live animals. Next comes working as an apprentice for an entire mating season. If results are successful (and cows fall pregnant), the trainee then gets a group of farms to service themselves, with close support and


monitoring by LIC’s team of AB supervisors and senior mentors. “It’s only the AB techs who are genuinely passionate about their job that succeed, and they’re generally the same ones who carry good empathy for dairy farmers,” Paul says. “All young AB techs I know are immensely proud of their role in the dairy industry. “But it’s not the easiest thing to learn. It’s hard on your arms and hands. It can be very frustrating and there are plenty of times you’ll ask yourself ‘what am I doing this for?’ but then one day it all clicks. Once you’ve got it, and you’ve handled the pressure of training, there’s a lot of pride there; it makes you feel good.” Once trained AB tech’s can return to their role the following season, after taking a break over the Christmas and New Year period. Many do other essential work in the agriculture sector, or travel and work overseas in the interim period (although not under COVID-19) where New Zealand LIC trained and qualified AB techs are highly regarded. @dairy_news facebook.com/dairynews

BEST IN THE WORLD NEW ZEALAND’S AB techs are the best in the world Paul McCarthy believes saying the skills learned are easily transferable overseas, for those eligible to work abroad. “I inseminated in Australia last year and New Zealand techs are in demand over there, as they are everywhere. Our adherence to hygiene, our training, our technique – it’s all outstanding. LIC should be proud as well, and they are.” Paul says over recent years he’s seen an increasing number of ‘townies’ or non-farming people becoming qualified AB techs. Skills needed to do the job include an ability to relate well to farmers (people skills) and attention to detail. “You should know how a cow thinks, and for townies, that’s something they need to learn on the job, but that comes with training and time on-the-job. “It’s something of an art, so it’ll come naturally to some but for others it’ll take a while to get going and some won’t get going at all as they find it is just not their cup of tea or they are unable to pass the required apprenticeship programme. It’s a specific procedure you’re doing, and it’s very black-and-white: you’ve either inseminated her or you haven’t, and you have either got her in calf or you haven’t. You need to have true confidence in what you’re doing.”

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HAY & SILAGE  // 19

Good mower an essential tool MARK DANIEL markd@ruralnews.co.nz


dairy farmers Hayden and Tania Edmeades run 500 dairy cows and associated young stock over 190ha near Putararu in the Waikato. Like every dairy farm, a good mower is an essential tool, whether it’s for cutting winter feed or topping and tidying paddocks that have got away from the herd. In the Edmeades case, the job falls to a Kverneland 2828M mounted disc

mower, featuring seven discs that deliver a cutting width of 2.8 metres. With two seasons under its belt, Hayden says the stand-out feature is the mower’s contour following ability. “We have a lot of sloping ground on the farm, some it quite gnarly, but the mower follows the ground exceptionally well, with no scuffing or sward damage. Once set, I really don’t have to make any adjustments from there on,” he says. Featuring a centre pivoting design that creates even weight distribution

across the full width of the cutter-bar, the mower is carried at a fixed height by the tractor’s three-

point linkage, while a hydraulic cylinder takes care of lifting and lowering into and out of work.

The design also incorporates an integral hydraulic suspension system that is easily

adjusted to cope with changing ground conditions or working speeds. Handled easily by the farm’s 4-cylinder 110hp tractor, Hayden notes the mower “uses plenty of steel” in its construction, in this case a hefty 805kg. The driveline sees power being transmitted directly to the first disc, removing the need for an inner shoe, which in turn means crossing already mown swaths is trouble-free, with no risk of bunching. During operation, Hayden reports that the cutting quality is always

good, with blades lasting well, but easily changed with the dedicated tool if required. The round discs mean that if any objects are encountered, they do not “pinch”, while peace of mind is also kept in check by the mechanical breakback system. For transport, the mower folds vertically to around 125 degrees, meaning that the cutter-bar and top cover is pulled in behind the tractor’s rear fender, reducing the likelihood of getting “tangled” with gateposts or other road users.

CLEAR CUT FODDER CLAAS HARVEST Centre product manager, Luke Wheeler, says the end goal should always be the starting point when making purchasing decisions. “While issues of maintenance, performance and cost need to be considered when choosing new harvesting machinery, the provision of high-quality fodder drives livestock health, performance, and ultimately, farm profitability.” Wheeler notes that one of the foundations of producing quality fodder is reducing contamination during harvesting operations, while pointing to a survey conducted by UK farm machinery magazine Profi that shows raking accounts for 46% soil contamination in fodder, followed by mowing at 40% and tedding with 14%. “Producers and contractors should consider those design features that

directly contribute to keeping fodder clean at every step of the harvesting process,” Luke says. “This is where CLAAS ‘Greenline’ forage harvesting technology comes into its own. Every model incorporates a host of clever innovations that are designed for top performance, easy day-to-day operation and a long working life,” he says The DISCO mower range includes more than 40 front, rear and side mounted mowing units from 2.45 to 3.8 metres and combinations to 10.7m. Larger models are equipped with the MAX CUT cutter-bar and ACTIVE FLOAT suspension. Pressed from a single piece of steel, the unique wave-shaped design enables the cutting discs to be placed further forwards, improving cutting quality in all conditions. ACTIVE FLOAT uses an integrated hydraulic suspension

that ensures mowers adapt perfectly to any ground contour, creating minimal ground pressure when the flotation pressure is correctly set, which reduces skid wear, dirt contamination of the forage as well as reducing fuel consumption. MOVE front mowers use a newly designed headstock that provides up to one metre of ‘give’ vertically and up to 30 degrees laterally, allowing the mower to work with optimal efficiency and safety in even the roughest of paddocks. Available in 3m and 3.4m models, these new configurations feature a highly manoeuvrable headstock that allows the mower to move independently from the tractor front linkage. Tedding can also play an important role in optimising forage quality by reducing drying time and contamination. CLAAS VOLTO ted-

ders are available in 13 trailed and mounted models from 5.5m to 13m, all models incorporating the MAX SPREAD crop flow concept and ground contour tracking. “Compared to conventional tedding systems, MAX SPREAD causes the spreading arms to work considerably longer in the direction of travel, thereby increasing crop pick-up,” Luke says. “The tines distribute the crop

evenly right across the maximum operating width, regardless of the working speed, allowing higher travel speeds and higher performance, and thanks to the lower engine speed, reduced fuel consumption. “ Providing the last part of the system, CLAAS LINER swathers are available in 20 different trailed and mounted models, with single, twin or quad-rotors that achieve operating widths from 3.5m to 15m.

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20 //  HAY & SILAGE

New enviro rules ‘favour maize’ APART FROM Covid19, there seems to be one topic that is dominating the farming media at the moment – freshwater and all the new rules and poli-

cies designed to protect it. While some regional councils have been focused on fresh water for a while now, the National Policy Statement

for Freshwater Management (NPS-FM) and the National Environment Standards for Freshwater (NES-FW) represent a broadening of the rules

across the whole of New Zealand. All regional councils will now have to make plan changes to give effect to these new regulations.

Maize silage ‘is still one of the best farm systems supplements available to Kiwi farmers’.

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The new rules introduce restrictions on intensification activities with resource consents required to convert more than 10ha of land to dairy farming, or from forestry to pastoral farming. A consent is also required to expand irrigation area on dairy farms by more than 10ha, or to expand the area of grazed forage crops, or dairy support activities above historical levels. Intensive winter grazing of forage crops will require a consent where the activity occurs over 50ha or 10% of the property, whichever is the greater, and where it occurs on slopes 10 degrees or steeper. One of the most talked about rules is the cap on synthetic nitrogen fertiliser application to no more than 190kg/ha to pastoral land including areas grown for forage crops. As other commentators have said, this is the first time that an input control has been placed on New Zealand farmers. I have been frequently asked, “Does maize silage and maize grain come under the nitrogen restrictions?” The answer is no. Under the NES-FW, maize silage and maize grain have been classified as arable and therefore sit outside the restrictions regardless as to whether they are grown on arable or livestock farms. From my understanding, the reason for this is that maize silage is harvested, stored off paddock and then usually fed on a feed pad. Unlike pasture and forage crops, it is not grazed in the paddock with the associated return of urinary nitrogen to the land. As I have written many times before, maize is a deep-rooting grass with well-documented high nitrogen use efficiency.

Maize roots go down to up more than 1.8m in unimpeded soils and therefore to the plant can draw nutrients (including nitrogen) which have dropped below the rooting depth of pasture and many small-seeded forage crop species. Because it produces high yields, a maize silage crop takes up a lot of nitrogen. In fact, a 20tDM/ha crop will remove about 250kgN/ ha or half a tonne of urea. Recent published research conducted by Pioneer® brand seeds shows the annual nitrogen leaching loss under maize silage followed by a harvested annual ryegrass catchcrop can be as low as 6kg N/ha*. The good news doesn’t stop there. Maize silage itself is a low nitrogen feed, which is great for diluting the high dietary nitrogen levels found in ryegrass-clover pasture for much of the year. Maize silage is still one of the best farm systems supplements available to Kiwi farmers. It is lowcost, great for increasing cow condition, extending lactation and filling feed deficits. The future looks exciting. I genuinely believe that because maize has a lot of proven environmental benefits and because we are seeing continued advances in crop establishment and management practices, maize cropping will become even greener in the years ahead. • Ian Williams is a Pioneer forage specialist Email iwilliams@genetic.co.nz



Irish trailers hitting the sweet spot MARK DANIEL markd@ruralnews.co.nz

WHILE MANY contrac-

tors still use trucks for haulage duties, the last decade, with the advent of larger tractors, has seen a great deal of interest in the use of high volume, high-spec tipping trailers. Starting out around five years ago importing one-off items alongside his main job as a contractor, Gavin Brownrigg now operates Brownrigg Agri Gear from a yard near Pirongia, specialising in haulage solutions from Irish manufacturers. Donnelly Trailers, built in County Tyrone for more than 40 years, offered customers a versatile trailer, based around a flat-bed construction. This design can be optioned to suit individual requirements, unlike most other manufacturers who build trailers with the floor and sides folded in one piece. Taking a Donnelly flat bed, it can be given a rear extension to create a bale trailer, have sides added to cart loose material, or topped off with a silage bin for harvest duties. Working closely with the factory, trailers are customised for the New Zealand market. Being 2.698 metres wide for added stability that is further enhanced with 22.5 inches tyres, which also reduce

SNIPPETS New addition WELL-KNOWN WHAKATANE based agricultural

dealership Jacks Machinery has been welcomed as the newest addition to Case IH’s national network of retailers. Owner Steve Jacks’ late father, Graeme, started Jacks Machinery in 1970 before retiring in 1992, after which, Steve and sales manager Ross Fergusson ran the business together. Then fast forward to September 2019 when Case IH appointed the business to distribute the maroon range. Besides a sales team, the Jacks Machinery workshop has eight mechanics experienced in tractor and machinery servicing, as well as dedicated parts people. The parts manager has more than 30 years experience and Steve himself works full time in the business.

Auger magnets FOREIGN BODIES in cows’ stomachs and feed

Proline SK silage trailer.

Offering a dedicated range of products that cover the general haulage, construction and bale silage sectors, the company also offers products to service the rapidly emerging effluent market. the overall height. Those radial tyres also help with flotation on difficult ground conditions, while steel belted sidewalls help with longevity, particularly during high speed road travel. Typically imported in 14 or 16 tonne capacities, the trailers are specified with four-wheel braking, double bogie axle arrange-

ments and sprung drawbars. A favourite with contractors is the design of the front headboard that offers improved visibility – particularly useful for rear filling, so well suited to opening out maize paddocks. Brownrigg also offers US sourced after-market, automated sheeting systems for the trailers.

A more recent addition, also from the Green Isle, is the Slurry Kat range, manufactured in County Armagh since 1994. Offering a dedicated range of products that cover the general haulage, construction and bale silage sectors, the company also offers products to service the rapidly emerging effluent market. Based around a dump trailer type lower body, that can be customised with the addition of silage bins, the company makes use of S355 high tensile steel or Hardox 700 steel to offer increased strength, lower tare weights and higher pay-

loads. The popular Proline SK series, typically with 22 tonne capacity offers standard features such as 10-stud commercial axles with hydraulic brakes, heavy duty suspension a rapid cycle, single, hydraulic tipping ram rated to 48 tonnes capacity and with a width of 2.7 metres to promote stability. Moving forwards, Brownrigg is also starting to address the demand for the effluent handling and spreading market, so currently hold stock of 12,500 litre, single axle with flotation tyres and a hydraulic filler arm for loading from the tractor seat.

machinery are not a good mix, creating a problem that can seriously endanger the health of animals and risk damage the feeding equipment. To avoid this problem and the risk of animals ingesting metallic foreign objects via the ration mix, BvL offers special foreign body magnets, which are mounted directly on the mixing augers in the company’s feed mixer wagons. As an option, a new stronger foreign object magnet has a magnetic field that is more than twice as strong as that of its predecessor thanks to two integrated, continuous magnetic plates. The new magnets are housed in a stainless-steel container, making the system robust, waterproof, and unaffected by the action of the mixing augers.

Seeding option COUPLED TO seed drills, precision seed drills or tillage tools, the KUHN TF 1512 front hopper offers a versatile seeding solution. The application rate is ensured by a metering unit with volumetric fluting, with the Venta system capable of distributing seeds for cropping or plant cover, as well as fertiliser, without additional equipment. Electrically driven, the application rate can easily be adjusted during work. Settings have been simplified by adding a calibration button near the metering unit to start the calibration test sequence without having to climb into the tractor cab. Suitable for coupling to a wheeled front packer to level the ground between the tractor wheels, or to a carrying frame to preserve, the unit is available in QUANTRON S2 or ISOBUS versions, the latest version being AEF-certified for the UT, TC Bas and TC SC functions.







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Malone ploughs to a win WHILE THE annual Irish National Ploughing Champi-

onships were cancelled this year due to Covid-19, Enterprise Ireland and the Ploughing Association decided to push ahead with the annual Innovation Arena competition for new innovations from agri-tech and farm machinery companies – albeit in a virtual format. Sixty companies entered the competition, of which thirty were selected to make a pitch to the judges via a video link. Malone Farm Machinery, the Mayo-based machinery company, was named as the overall winner of the 2020 Innovation Arena, winning the award for its latest product, a new purpose-built round bale chaser with a capacity of 16 bales. The Express is able to operate to a weight capacity of 26 tonnes, the design features a heavy-duty chassis with a tubular loading arm on each side of the trailer to lift and lower the bales without damage. In operation, after four bales are collected, they are lifted onto central cradles that are cleverly lifted using a telescopic mast to the “second floor”, allowing room for a further eight bales underneath. This configuration allows the machine to carry a larger payload than single level machines, but importantly reduces the overall length to make maneuvering in the paddock and the stackyard much easier. Judges report that they were impressed with the superb design and high quality of engineering of the machine, alongside the potential the machine must have to improve the speed of collection and safe handling of round bales.

Award-winning round bale chaser with a capacity of 16 bales.

THE POWER OF A SOIL PROBE DO YOU know what’s happening in your soil? Water usage and productivity company Watermetrics believes it’s essential for farmers to know this. The company says a proper soil probe will give farmers accurate information in terms of moisture and temperature. For example, you can use different forms of nitrogen but it is best not applied when the top 10cm soil temperature is less than 6 degree C. The company says knowing the moisture in your soil to a good depth is crucial in irrigation decisions. “The more we observe the more confident we are that you can save 20% of your water and still get more growth,” it says. “You can’t do that without knowing what’s going on in the soil at all levels. Gaining knowledge and understanding of what the best moisture levels are in your soil, you can ensure you are in the best position to get the best growth and take account of seasonal changes.” Farmers also need to report on nutrient washout and the reasons they irrigated at a certain time. Watermetrics says this environmental reporting is important and good records satisfy this requirement. An inferior probe will not achieve this. “The market is full of very ordinary probes, some that have to be

Watermetrics says knowing the moisture in your soil to a good depth is crucial in irrigation decisions.

dug in, and others give pretty poor information. They do not represent a sound investment. Things like signal cost, frequency of reading, accuracy of probe placement and verification of correct data are important. To do the job properly you need 100mm readings to at least a 500mm depth so you really can see what’s happening.” They also need connection to a powerful data transfer network. Watermetrics says its Lora network successfully services thousands of farms throughout New Zealand. A recent upgrade has lifted that performance “to world standard data transfer”. The company says it presents data in meaningful and easy to connect with ways. “We connect flow data, climate information and soil information in graphical form that makes management decisions easy.”

With spring here, farmers need to make important farm management decisions to make particularly in fertiliser use and irrigation. “Decisions made now are reflected in your physical and financial performance for the whole year and it’s hard to play catch up for a poor beginning,” it says. “With dairy the cows have to have good condition by calving and if you do that you can feed them up to maximize the peak of the lactation curve, which is critical in terms of maximising the overall lactation and the amount of solids you have to sell. “Factors you have to play with are stocking rate, winter grazing, supplement use, nitrogen and irrigation. Best combination of these will give you plenty of feed and with that comes high production and good cow condition going forward.

NAIT checklist for bulls Help build lifetime animal traceability and support disease management

Selling or leasing service bulls? All my bulls are correctly tagged and NAIT registered at my NAIT location I’ve completed a pre-movement TB test* * If you’re not sure, check with OSPRI if you need a pre-movement TB test.

I’ve filled out an Animal Status Declaration (ASD) form and a Declaration to Livestock Transporter (DLT) form When the bulls leave: I’ve recorded a sending movement in NAIT – within 48 hours of them leaving When the leased bulls return: I’ve recorded (or confirmed) a receiving movement in NAIT – within 48 hours of them arriving

Buying or leasing service bulls? I’ve confirmed with the bull provider that the bulls are tagged and NAIT registered I received an Animal Status Declaration (ASD) form from the bull provider When the bulls arrive: I’ve recorded (or confirmed) a receiving movement in NAIT for the bulls I bought/leased – within 48 hours of them arriving When the leased bulls leave my farm: I’ve recorded a sending movement in NAIT – within 48 hours of them leaving* * If you’re sending to the works, they will record the movement for you. Make sure you record your NAIT location number on the ASD form. Failure to comply with NAIT obligations may result in fines or prosecution issued by the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Need help? Call OSPRI on 0800 482 463 NAIT is an OSPRI programme

info@ospri.co.nz | ospri.co.nz

Profile for Rural News Group

Dairy News 29 September 2020  

Dairy News 29 September 2020

Dairy News 29 September 2020  

Dairy News 29 September 2020