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Farmers at ease with borders. PAGE 5



SEPTEMBER 14, 2021 ISSUE 479 //

VISA WOES The provisions that migrant workers can work only 40 hours/week is not practical on dairy farms at certain times of the year. – Tim Mackle Page 3






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NEWS  // 3

Visa roadblock! STAFF REPORTERS

Co-ops thriving. PG.06

Fonterra’s record year. PG.11

Valtra earning its keep. PG.23

NEWS������������������������������������������������������3-14 OPINION���������������������������������������������� 16-17 AGRIBUSINESS������������������������������������18 MANAGEMENT�������������������������������19-20 ANIMAL HEALTH����������������������������21-22 MACHINERY & PRODUCTS�������������������������������������� 23-24 EFFLUENT & WATER������������������ 25-35

VISA APPLICATIONS for migrant dairy workers are being declined over a contentious 40-hour working week requirement by the Government. In June the Government allowed 200 migrant dairy workers – a mix of dairy assistants, herd managers and assistant managers – through the border to help with the workforce issues facing the sector. Applications are currently open but there is a long application and processing time, and Immigration NZ’s new requirement will delay some of these applications further. Since the applications have been made, Immigration NZ has advised that the salary of $79,500 for herd managers can only be applied to a maximum 40-hour work week. If there is an expectation of more weekly hours, this salary must be increased. If farmers are happy to proceed with the 40-hour week, the application can proceed. Dairy News understands that some applications have since been declined. Federated Farmers Dairy chairman Chris Lewis says paying someone $80,000 and having no leeway to have them work extra hours, especially during calving and mating seasons, doesn’t make economic sense. “The nature of farm work is that there will be extra hours during some weeks,” he told Dairy News. Lewis says the sector wanted 500 extra workers from overseas and the Government agreed to allow only 200. “Now we have MIQ spaces lying

The dairy sector is struggling to obtain visas for migrant workers and is blaming Government for the impasse.

idle and yet we can’t get muchneeded overseas workers through.” Lewis says the agreement with the Government was that migrant workers would be paid the median wage of $25.50/hour. He says the Government blindsided them with the 40-hour week requirement. “Desperate farmers are happy to pay above the median wage for workers, but the strict requirements are making the applications unworkable. Farmers need people to come and help with the essential jobs on farm and they need them now.” DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says the present Covid out-

break in NZ has seen plans to bring in overseas workers to help in the dairy industry put on hold, creating uncertainty about the future. Mackle says not only are they not able to get in workers from overseas, they are losing some of the existing workers to countries such as Australia and Canada who are offering better deals for migrant workers. “For example, Australia has upped the ante by offering an ‘ag visa’ that offers a much shorter pathway though to residency, which is much more attractive to migrant workers and their families,” he says. Mackle says while the dairy

industry has a class exemption to bring in 200 workers, it’s the details around this that are a worry. He says the process needs to be improved, simplified and made more practical if it’s to work effectively. He says a major unexpected roadblock that has been flagged is a requirement that the pay rates for overseas workers coming in as a manager is significantly higher than the NZ market rates. “Then there is a provision that these people can only work 40 hours a week, which is not practical on dairy farms at certain times of the year, so we are trying to sort this out with the authorities,” he says.


4 //  NEWS

Worker shortage warning SUDESH KISSUN


industry leader says the Government’s response to worker shortages in the dairy industry is “a cop out”. Jason Herrick, Southland Federated Farmers sharemilker section chair, wrote to Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor

two weeks ago calling for immediate government action. “The longer you and your follow ministers sit on your hands and expect this situation rectify itself, the more dire this situation is going to become,” he told O’Connor. “You all had the opportunity to stem the flow of staff leaving our industry, and stop other countries coming in here and offer-

ing them what you continuously refuse to. “I mean seriously, using the excuse that it’s keeping New Zealanders safe on one hand, and then allowing entertainers, sports personalities, and movie producers, cast and crew into the country through our MIQ facilities, and safely do so, then why can’t this be replicated for our split migrant families and essential

workers?” Herrick forwarded Dairy News a reply he received from O’Connor’s personal assistant who thanked him for getting touch with the office. “As the matters you have raised relate to the family members of essential migrant workers, we have transferred your correspondence to the office of Kris Faafoi. As Minister of Immigration, Minister Faafoi is best suited to consider your correspondence. “We appreciate you flagging these issues around staff shortages with our office and we have also passed your letter on to officials at

MPI. The Minister is aware of the challenges posed by the staffing shortages and continues to meet with officials and with industry bodies to discuss the situation.” Herrick says Faafoi has been “missing in action” and he wasn’t holding hope for any response soon. Questions emailed to Faafoi’s press secretary by Dairy News weren’t answered as we went to print. Herrick told Dairy News that he was close to losing two migrant workers from his farm – one is heading to Australia and the other back to his family in Philippines in October.

Australia and Canada are making it easier for dairy workers to obtain visas and enter those countries with their families, something New Zealand isn’t doing. Herrick says some migrant workers have been waiting for months for their residency visas and to reunite with families. “They are simply getting fed up of waiting and are heading either back home or applying to work in Australia and Canada. “If our Government doesn’t wake up to this, our worker shortage situation will become a major crisis next season.” Many farmers strug-

gled without migrant workers during calving season, which has mostly ended in North Island and two-thirds through in the South Island. Herrick says the lockdown was a saviour because many students returned home and helped their parents calve cows. “I’ve also heard of retired farmers, some aged over 70, coming back to help with calving.” Herrick says the problem is nationwide and not only Southland. “I’m speaking for every farmer who relies on migrant workers.” @dairy_news

BOVAER OK FOR USE IN BRAZIL, CHILE A FEED additive that reduces ruminants and both beef and dairy methane emissions in animals has in their approval.” Bovaer is also poised for launch received regulatory approval from in Australia, after trials two Latin American under Australian feedcountries. lot conditions found it Bovaer, developed reduced methane emisby global science sions by up to 90%. company Royal DSM, In New Zealand, has got the green light Fonterra is trialling to commercialise the Bovaer under a joint product in Brazil and partnership with DSM. Chile. Trials overseas have DSM Latin Amershown Bovaer reduces ica president Mauri- Mark van Nieuwland methane emissions by cio Adade says it is excited to get approvals in the two up to 30% in non-pasture raised cows. countries. Fonterra wants to know whether “We are delighted that Brazilian and Chilean authorities evaluated it would also work in New ZeaBovaer carefully and efficiently at land’s pasture-based farming systhe same time and included all tems.

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NEWS  // 5

Farmers at ease with borders

Strategy for Delta


Dairy farm workers crossing the Covid borders are comfortable with arrangements, says DairyNZ. Inset: Hamish Hodgson.

for that process to be as quick and seamless as possible. That’s why we want the testing stations close to the border, to enable farmers who are travelling and have a bit of spare time, [to] get a test for the next week.” Hodgson says once people have a test, they will have to prove it. This proof will come via text or email on their smartphones which they can show to police at border control checkpoints. He says the seven day testing protocol is in line with what other essential workers crossing the border have to comply with. He says farmers will likely go along with that too, as long as it’s fair and a sensible approach that isn’t cumbersome and doesn’t prevent them getting through the border quickly.

FONTERRA’S PLANS AS DAIRY News went to press, Fonterra said it was still working through how to implement the requirements for having milk tanker drivers and other staff deal with the Covid border testing rules. In a brief statement, the company said that its focus was on supporting staff to ensure they could comply with the new rules. Fonterra said it was seeking more clarity on the matter. Fonterra is running its own plan to provide Covid-19 vaccinations for staff. In their statement they revealed that 4,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered but declined to say how many of their 12,000 staff are fully or partly vaccinated. They also noted that some of their staff have been vaccinated in the community.

Hodgson says much effort is being made by DairyNZ to communicate with farmers and those who service the dairy industry to ensure they are aware of any new requirements. “To be honest the communication from Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the Ministry of Health has been relatively good, given that it is a fastevolving situation, and we

seem to be getting some good information from them,” he says. Hodgson says DairyNZ is widely promoting the need for all dairy farm workers to get vaccinated against Covid-19, and making sure there are plenty of places where they can get vaccinated. “The feedback we are getting is that farmers are taking up the opportunity to get vaccinated and we are hearing quite a

few stories around farmers enabling their staff to get off farm and get vaccinated,” he says. Hodgson says this is certainly in line with what DairyNZ is trying to encourage. He says they are also encouraging farmers to have a contingency plan in place to protect their businesses. “It’s good that farmers are thinking along those lines,” he says.


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WE’RE VERY understanding on what’s being put in place. That’s the feedback that DairyNZ has been getting from farmers just prior to a government requirement that all essential workers, including dairy farmers, crossing the border into Auckland region must get a weekly Covid test. The new rule – conceived to reduce the spread of Covid from Auckland – was to come into effect from last Thursday. But just hours before, the Government delayed this requirement by a week, largely because of pushback from the trucking industry who said this was a complex matter and they needed more time to sort out their systems. The week delay will apply to all essential workers including dairy farmers. Hamish Hodgson, DairyNZ Covid project manager, says the feedback is that farmers are relatively comfortable about the arrangements. “Testing stations are set up and there has been some work on providing additional testing stations close to the border, which will help farmers to get their testing done early – and hopefully their trip through the border will be a bit more smoother,” Hodgson told Dairy News. “We are advocating

THE DAIRY industry, along with all primary sectors, are going to have to be very proactive and innovative over the next two to three years to deal with the uncertainties created by Covid-19. DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle told Dairy News that the industry is going to prepare a range of scenarios – from the worst to the best – to deal with the complexities that the Delta and other Covid variants might throw at the sector. He says it’s Tim Mackle anyone’s guess as to what might happen and is important that planning is done now to deal with any eventuality. He says the dairy industry is a really important part of the economic engine that keeps NZ going and it is up to the industry to play its part in securing this objective. Dr Mackle notes that it’s remarkable what has happened so far despite the pandemic. “Last year Fonterra set a record for how much tonnage they exported [see story page 11] and that’s remarkable, given what happened. A lot of people are working pretty hard to continue to make it happen, including farmers,” he says. Mackle says one of the key reasons for the success of the sector during Covid has been the efforts of the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). He says they have done a magnificent job in advocating for the sector, to ensure common sense prevailed around how farmers and the rural sector could go about its business, pretty much as normal, despite restricted travel between Auckland the rest of NZ. “The Director General of MPI, Ray Smith, has been a real breath of fresh air and is a very strong and supportive leader. “He’s set the tone and we feel that MPI is really good ally for us and all the primary sectors. The dairy industry has also got to play its part and not let complacency set in,” he says.


6 //  NEWS

Tatua is the 14th largest co-op in the country, with Fonterra holding the top spot.

Co-ops thriving, says report CO-OPERATIVE BUSINESSES in New Zealand are thriving and coping well with the impact of Covid, according to Cooperative Business NZ chief executive Roz Henry. She made the comments at the launch of The New Zealand Co-operative Economy report. It provides insight into New Zealand’s position as one of the most co-operative economies in the world with a high proportion of memberowned businesses, including top agribusinesses like Fonterra and kiwifruit marketer Zespri. Fonterra heads the list of the country’s top 30 co-operatives. Waikato dairy co-op Tatua is 14th on the list, followed by FMG and LIC.

The Dairy Goat Co-operative is 18th on the list. Fertiliser co-operatives Ballance and Ravensdown are 9th and 10th respectively. The report, completed by PwC, shows New Zealand’s top 30 co-operatives contribute 13% of New Zealand’s GDP by revenue, earning nearly $42 billion revenue in 2020. The co-operatives have a staggering 1.5 million members, with the top 30 enabling job opportunities to a significant portion of the workforce with 41,000 employees. Around 72% of New Zealand’s cooperatives are in the agri-food sector and have achieved increased revenues

of around 10% since 2015. “These agri-food co-operatives have been performing well with strong growth in revenue and assets, indicating a resistance and strong response to the economic impacts of Covid-19,” Henry says. Those in the insurance, banking and finance sector have also performed strongly, with revenue growth over 40% since 2015. “The past 18 months have shone the light even brighter on how essential these businesses are in keeping New Zealand moving forward.” Co-operatives have long been part of the fabric of New Zealand life. The business model is successfully applied

across multiple sectors and is fundamental to the way New Zealanders do business and deliver goods and services. “The vast spread of sectors outlined in this report shows how versatile the model is,” says Henry. “Not only that, it brings to the forefront that some of New Zealand’s most enduring businesses are co-operatives. “They’re multi-generational, sustainable and community-focused – ensuring profits and their businesses’ positive social and environmental impacts continue to be circled back into New Zealanders’ lives,” says Henry. The researchers highlighted that the key challenges facing the co-operative

sector included raising capital, labour shortages, and reducing emissions to comply with the Climate Change Response Act 2002. “There are fantastic opportunities to work closely with the New Zealand Government, educators and business community to address these and ensure New Zealand’s co-operatives continue to thrive. “­­ This report also recognises the opportunity for future businesses to be established using the model. It shares why understanding and supporting New Zealand co-operatives is important and how Cooperative Business NZ can implement this with various partners.”­­­­­­­

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seat as incumbent Jacqueline Rowarth takes on Waiuku farmer Stu Muir. Voting opened last week and farmers have until October 19 to cast their votes. returning officer Anthony Morton is urging farmers to vote. “I encourage all dairy farmers to have their say and vote for the candidate they want to see on DairyNZ’s board,” says Morton. DairyNZ levy payers will receive their voter pack information via email next week. “Dairy farmers should look out for this email and learn more about the candidates before they vote.” DairyNZ’s board consists of five farmer-elected directors and three board-appointed directors. Appointments are for three years. This year Rowarth is retiring by rotation and re-standing. The successful candidate will be announced at DairyNZ’s annual meeting in Hawera on October 20.

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NEWS  // 7

Spring Sheep in growth mode JESSICA MARSHALL

SPRING SHEEP Company’s new chief executive Nick Hammond says the company’s in a high growth phase and on track to have over 40,000 sheep supplying milk in the next four years. “Our focus… is scaling the business – taking our products globally, expanding our markets but also growing the business in a sustainable way,” he told Dairy News. The company initially launched its products in Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia. New Zealand and China have recently been added to the list. Building sales, both online and in retail stores, in China is a priority. “We are building our presence in the Cross Border E-Commerce channel (CBEC), which takes English-label product and sells it via online platforms to Chinese cus-

tomers. “This year we are also launching into the general trade channel (bricks and mortar retail stores), with our new Chinese-label range,” Hammond says. He says that innovation is vital to the Spring Sheep brand. “The team is innovating across all elements of the supply channel, from milk production right through to distribution. “We are continuously looking for ways to innovate on the farms, in production and in the product space, and as we scale up you will continue to see innovation coming from the company.” Hammond says there is great potential for the future of sheep milk in New Zealand. “We believe sheep milk is a sunrise industry in New Zealand with huge potential. New Zealanders are some of the best in the world in milk quality, dairy processing, pastoral dairy farming and sheep

Nick Hammond.

animal husbandry – sheep milking brings all of these together.” Hammond takes over as chief executive from Scottie Chapman, who held the role for six years. He remains the executive director. Spring Sheep chair Michael Ahie says Ham-

mond has the skills to take the company to new heights. “A natural entrepreneur who originally trained in accounting, finance and law, Nick is an innovator whose dedication, passion and strong business acumen have propelled Spring Sheep

Milk Co. from a start-up to a high growth business. He has the full backing as the natural CEO successor from the board, the team and co-founder Scottie Chapman.” Chapman says it has been an incredible journey with Spring Sheep over the past six years.

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CATCHMENT AWARD ENTRIES HAVE opened for the 2021 Ballance Farm Environment Awards, including a new award. The Catchment Group Award is being supported by a partnership between the NZ Farm Environment Trust and NZ Landcare Trust. It is designed to showcase and celebrate the work done by catchment groups across New Zealand. “The new Catchment Group Award recognises the efforts of a rural community working together to improve water quality in local rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands,” says NZ Farm Environment Trust chair Joanne van Polanen. She says the new initiative is designed to celebrate the efforts of catchment groups and inspire other rural communities with examples of good practice. The NZ Landcare Trust Catchment Group Award will be open to catchment groups from all eleven regions where the Ballance Farm Environment Awards are held. NZ Landcare Trust chief executive Dr Nick Edgar says it’s exciting to be launching the new award across New Zealand. “We provide support to a large number of catchment groups doing amazing work to protect biodiversity, clean up waterways and respond to the climate challenge. This award provides an excellent opportunity to showcase what farmers in these groups have been able to achieve by working together,” he says. Farmers, growers and catchment groups are encouraged to visit to find out about the awards, enter and/or nominate an entrant into the awards. – Jessica Marshall

“Nick is the right person to scale Spring Sheep into the globally dominant sheep dairy bran it deserves to become and I will be eagerly supporting from the sidelines as Spring Sheep continues to tick off milestones next under Nick’s leadership.”

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8 //  NEWS

Prices rebound! SUDESH KISSUN


ended a six month poor run, giving stronger hope to an $8 farmgate milk price this season. BNZ has lifted its forecast 2021-22 milk

price to $8.30/kgMS. Senior economist Doug Steel says the dynamics and balance of risks appear to be changing with robust demand bumping up against subdued supply. “It is as much that GDT prices have stopped falling as it is that they

have bounced a bit. Factoring all that in, we lift our 2021/22 milk price forecast to $8.30.” The benchmark wholemilk powder (WMP) prices ended a run of six consecutive drops on Global Dairy Trade (GDT) to rise 3.3% to US$3,691/metric tonne.

The GDT price index rose 4%, adding to the tiny 0.3% gain at the previous auction that followed a run of eight consecutive declines before that. Prices are at a high level, up nearly a third on a year ago and 18% above their 5-year average. Steel says the bounce

Skim milk powder was the big winner in last week’s GDT auction, with a price rise of 7.3%.

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in prices follows a general lift in global risk appetite over recent weeks helping underpin demand. “The number of unsatisfied bidders was well above average overnight, suggesting a firm underbelly to demand and that the current price strength will have legs. “Indeed, forward price curves show high price levels extending into next year.” ASB economist Nat Keall says WMP prices are looking strong and stable across the contract curve. “WMP prices settled a little north of the US$3,700 mark, below their levels at the beginning of winter, but ahead of the last couple of auctions,” he notes. The stability in prices suggests this auction’s gains weren’t just a near-term rush of post lockdown anxiety. “It’s a signal buyers expect dairy demand to remain solid and are keen to avoid missing out given the tighter WMP supply of late,” says Keall. ASB is holding at its $7.90/kgMS forecast for the season. “While we caution

against placing too much emphasis on the auctionto-auction churn, this event has a particular significance as the first auction of the spring and our first good signal on where the market lies in three weeks,” he says. Westpac is sticking with its forecast milk price of $7.75/kgMS. Senior agri economist Nathan Penny says it sees the global dairy market as being largely balanced at this point, with prices settling at a healthy level. “At the same time, we continue to note that it’s relatively early in the season and there remains a wide range of possible milk price outcomes on both sides of this figure.” Penny believes not too much should be read into WMP prices lifting 3.3%. “The result snapped an extended period of WMP price weakness, with prices lifting for the first time since back in May. However, over that period WMP prices fell by around 14%, so the lift overnight reverses some but not all of that price weakness.” @dairy_news

ALL EYES ON NZ ALL EYES will be on New Zealand’s peak production season, starting next month. BNZ senior economist Doug Steel says, to date, conditions have been generally favourable for grass growth through large parts of the country. “While this is encouraging, we do not anticipate much growth, if any, in NZ milk production for the season overall, given strong output last season and a recent trend of fewer cow numbers. “Through the pandemic, dairy farming has been deemed an essential industry so has continued operating through the various lockdowns. “That is not to say there have not been any challenges. For example, the closed border has made finding appropriate staff all that much more difficult. “As ever, actual milk production for the season will be heavily dependent on the weather.”

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10 //  NEWS

Do you know

What your cows are telling you?

Lincoln University Dairy Farm is expanding research to include variable milking frequency, moving the forage base to include plantain, and replacement rate reduction.

Lincoln launches new research JESSICA MARSHALL

THREE NEW farming systems are being implemented to expand Lincoln University Dairy Farm’s (LUDF) focus and extend its outlook through to 2030. The research is on variable milking frequency, moving the forage base to include plantain, and replacement rate reduction. The South Island Dairying Demonstration Centre (SIDDC) has revised LUDF farm systems to more effectively contribute to New Zealand dairying and the wider primary sector. Lincoln University deputy vicechancellor Professor Grant Edwards says SIDDC is committed to taking a leadership role in dairy farming in New Zealand through LUDF. “It’s important that the partnership regularly reassesses and revisits the farm’s systems to consolidate its position at the vanguard of current

and future scenarios.” DairyNZ general manager for new systems and competitiveness, Dr David McCall, says New Zealand’s dairy sector is committed to remaining the most sustainable milk producers. “As a SIDDC partner, we support LUDF implementing new farm systems. It is also exciting to see the adoption of variable milking frequencies, following DairyNZ’s three-year flexible milking project which highlighted the opportunities this system presents farmers.” The variable milking programme will be implemented in the 2021/22 season and involves moving from the traditional twice-a-day milking to a more flexible milking regime with ten milkings over the course of a week. SIDDC demonstration manager Jeremy Savage says there are many benefits to variable milking. “A variable milking programme will not only improve cow welfare through less lameness, better overall health condition and enhanced

vigour, but will also lift the safety and wellbeing of staff, with kinder rosters, fewer early starts and more condensed workloads allowing for better work/life balance,” he says. Additionally, Savage says that starting in October 2021, LUDF will plant at least 10% of the farm into plantain each year. “This is a forage that may significantly reduce nitrogen leaching. With cow intakes of 30% plantain or higher we anticipate LUDF will achieve further improvements to its nitrogen leaching results,” he says. He says the potential benefits of reducing on-farm nitrogen leaching by up to 20% by managing cows’ diets are ‘obvious’ and ‘compelling’. In introducing plantain, LUDF is applying research from the Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching (FRNL) project, a six-year cross-sector programme that looked at ways in which forages can reduce nitrate leaching. @dairy_news

Parker to chair FarmIQ board Let data do the talking. Keep an eye on every cow 24/7 and take control over your herd’s repro and health. We partner with the best A.I. and milking equipment providers to save you time and labor and deliver the most precise and complete herd monitoring insights.



Warren Parker has been named as new chairman of FarmIQ. The company is the maker of farm management software that enables farmers to bring all farmrelated information into one place. Parker says FarmIQ has all the ingredients and ambition necessary to become the national leading software choice for farmers. He says FarmIQ can only achieve this by being a good partner and a respectful collaborator. “There is a lot to do but I’m excited by the high calibre of their people and their enthusiasm to help farmers.” The power of a platform

Warren Parker

approach is other software providers can offer their tailored solu-

tions while farmers need to enter data only once. Parker says this is well proven in the banking and other sectors, and there is no reason it cannot be just as successful in the rural sectors. FarmIQ chief executive Will Noble says the company is at an exciting point in its evolution, as is the digitisation of the pastoral sector it serves. Parker, a former chief executive of Scion, holds several board roles. He is chair of Landcorp Farming and the Forestry Ministerial Advisory Group and serves on the boards of Quayside Holdings, Farmlands Co-operative Society and Genomics Aotearoa.


NEWS  // 11

Fonterra’s record shipment year despite global supply chain woes IN A year of supply chain

challenges and strong demand for dairy, a massive team effort and the power of partnership has helped Fonterra ship more product than any other year. The co-operative says it shipped a total of 2.59 million metric ton, an increase of more than 4% year-on-year for the year ending 31 July. Fonterra chief operating officer Fraser Whineray says Kotahi, a joint partnership between the co-operative and Silver Fern Farms, has been the key to this year’s result. “But it’s not just Fonterra that’s seen benefits from this. “Through the scale that Kotahi brings with its strategic partnership with Maersk, many other Kiwi companies have been able to get their product off our shores. “I hear New Zealand Wool Services has also had a good year with their export volumes of containers up on the previous 12 months. I know there have been some challenges this year but there are also some great Kiwi success stories out there.” Jason Stewart, shipping manager at New Zealand Wool Services echoes this and says there have been challenges, but the

partnership has paid dividends. “We have been in a position to keep our product moving through the long-term partnership we’ve had with Kotahi which has given New Zealand Wool Services a level of competitive advantage that others in the market don’t have.” The supply chain has suffered a raft of challenges this year including shipping schedule integrity plunging from a long-term average of 80% to below 35% in the year. “If that wasn’t bad enough, there were temporary port closures and restrictions as well as container shortages”, says Gordon Carlyle, Fonterra director of global supply chain. Gordon says the critical event team played an important part in applying some creative thinking to finding solutions to some big challenges. “They worked tirelessly to co-ordinate our response across about 800 people – mostly our supply chain people and 100 in Kotahi and Coda, our supply chain partners.” Reworks or re-planning of the end-to-end chain due to changes in vessel arrivals, jumped by 350% in 2021 from the year

Fonterra says a massive team effort and the power of partnership has helped the co-op ship more product than any other year.

Fraser Whinerary

before. “The resilience of our supply chain has been a real differentiator with customers this year and we couldn’t have achieved this without Kotahi,” says Gordon. Kotahi chief executive David Ross warns it’ll still be hard graft for some time to come.

“We continue to see operational bottlenecks from port congestion, vessel delays and port omissions which means we aren’t receiving shipping capacity and containers in the time period that exporters require, making it a challenge to get products to export markets.” “We now are working closely with our customers and partners to build stability into the ocean freight network, as we prepare for a challenging new season ahead,” he says. Established by Fonterra and Silver Fern Farms about 10 years ago, Kotahi works with exporters, importers and industry partners to create a sustainable, more efficient supply chain.

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12 //  NEWS


The programme will lower the beef sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by delivering cows with a smaller environmental hoof-print.

Beef genetics project to benefit dairy DAIRY FARMERS are set to bene-

fit from a $17 million beef genetics programme backed by the red meat sector and the Government. Beef+Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is providing $10m towards the seven-year project Informing New Zealand Beef, the Ministry for Primary Industries will provide the balance. The project is expected to result in more efficient cows within the next 25 years. The programme is targeting a 10% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per kilogram of product produced. Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor says the programme will lower the beef sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by delivering cows with a smaller environmental hoof-print. “The cows most suited to New Zealand’s production systems will be moderate in size, but still highly productive. Moderate sized cows which require less feed will help to lower the impact on soils and produce less methane,” says O’Connor. “To date we’ve relied on an Australian

beef genetics framework, but the time is right to create our own programme tailored to New Zealand conditions.” B+LNZ chief executive Sam McIvor says the programme capitalises on New Zealand’s world-leading skills and knowledge in sheep genetics and applies them to the beef industry. “The data tells us that our beef industry has been lagging behind on genetic progress,” he says. “Not only will this give the industry better genetic tools, but a major focus of the programme is to work with commercial farmers to increase understanding and grow confidence in using genetic information to drive productivity and profitability.” McIvor says dairy farmers also stand to benefit significantly. “With these new production-focused genetic selection tools, dairy farmers will be able to select semen from beef bulls for artificial insemination in their herds, more confident that they will have shorter gestation, easy calving and produce more valuable calves.”

A START-UP solar energy business says recent developments in the energy sector make it a sound investment. Solagri managing director Peter Saunders says record wholesale energy prices, recent power outages in the North Island and the United Nations declaring “code red for humanity” on climate change make it timely to invest in electricity generation and storage. Saunders says Solagri had a successful first week on PledgeMe as it raises funds to construct solar arrays and batteries on Kiwi dairy farms. “Dairy prices have come off a little, but they are still 24% higher than at the same time last year. “Building big solar arrays beside dairy sheds to help protect them from future electricity shortages makes sense. “It also makes sense to deploy large batteries into those farms to support the dairy operation in the summer months and to support

Solagri plans to construct solar arrays and batteries on Kiwi dairy farms.

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the grid in the winter months by shifting energy from the daytime to the overnight demand peaks. “It’s very hard to think of a better time to bring a new electricity generation and storage system to the New Zealand market,” says Saunders. “We have overall steadily increasing demand, pressure to move vehicles from oil to EV, pressure to move our large industrial heat users like milk dryers off coal, pressure to reduce our use of old coal generators, low lake levels and no new hydro capacity on the drawing board.” Saunders points out that recently New Zealand set a new record wholesale energy price. “The price Kiwis pay for their electricity includes the wholesale energy price in their region and the retailers mark-up,” he says. On August 16, cold temperatures collided with a few other variables like low wind to produce a spot price that exceeded $11,000/

megawatt/hour (MWh). “It was only for one hour, but to put that in context, the wholesale price of electricity is normally around $115 per MWh at present. The wholesale energy price in New Zealand been regularly spiking over $600 MWh recently. “If that price had been passed through to consumers, it would have cost you around $4.35 to boil a kettle.” He says because of energy supply and demand issues, Transpower stopped supply to customers for a few hours. Saunders says while the events that coincided to cause this are rare, several industry experts came out to warn Kiwis that these supply outages are more likely into the future. “Basically, our demand continues to grow and we have been too slow to build significant new generation capacity to keep up with this growth.”


NEWS  // 13

Lactalis soars to the top spot SUDESH KISSUN


Lactalis has dethroned Nestlé as the world’s largest dairy company. Rabobank’s annual Global Dairy Top 20 report released last month shows organic growth and a global mergers and acquisition strategy helped Lactalis unseat Nestlé. In 2000, privatelyowned Lactalis was placed ninth on the list with a turnover of US$4.8 billion. Last year, its revenue totalled US$23b compared to Nestlé at just under US$21b. Fonterra retains its sixth placing with total revenue of US$13.6b. Lactalis, owned by the Besnier family, has a presence in Australia; it became a major shareholder in Parmalat’s Australian business in 2011 before buying out the business in 2019. The Rabobank report says, since 2010, Lacta-

lis has grown its empire by adding about 60 deals, expanding its global footprint in the Middle East, Africa and North and South America. Its pending purchase of Kraft Heinz natural cheese business and other businesses in Europe will boost revenue by another US$2.5b and extend the company’s ranking next year. The third place in the rankings has been retained by Dairy Farmers of America, the US’ largest dairy co-op. French company Danone and Chinese dairy giant Yili, which owns Westland Milk, Hokitika round up the top five European co-ops FrieslandCampina and Arla Foods feature seventh and eight respectively. The Rabobank report shows that in 2020, dairy companies faced significant challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but overall, the sector fared better than expected. The combined turnover of the top 20 indus-

SUSTAINABILITY A WINNER THE RABOBANK report shows that in 2020, dairy companies faced significant challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but overall, the sector fared better than expected, demonstrating its resilience. The pandemic also heightened consumers’ awareness of environmental challenges. A focus on sustainability was a winner for dairy companies. “Consumer sentiments are being heard, and many companies included in the Global Dairy Top 20 have made sustainability commitments for 2030 and carbon-neutrality commitments for 2050,” according to Richard Scheper, Rabobank dairy analyst. Sustainability-marketed US milk sales grew more than 20% from 2013 to 2018, compared to negative growth for the category as a whole. Sustainability-marketed natural cheese and yogurt sales grew over 30% and 20%, respectively, compared to near 10% growth for those categories broadly over the five-year period. The report says dairy alternatives keep growing and blurring the definition of dairy. The sales growth of liquid milk and yogurt alternatives – especially oat and almond based variants – have not gone unnoticed. Most significantly, Danone’s turnover in dairy alternatives, following its acquisition of WhiteWave Foods in 2017, was recorded at US$2.5b, a gain of 15% compared to the previous year.

try leaders fell by just 0.1% in US dollar terms, following the prior year’s 1.8% gain. In euro terms, the combined turnover decreased by 1.9%. Merger and acquisition

activity slowed in 2020, with approximately 80 announced deals versus the prior year’s 105. Activity picked up in 2021, with over 50 deals announced through midyear.

The world’s number one dairy company Lactalis owns the ex-Parmalat business in Australia.

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Oz processor’s acquisition strategy paying dividends SUDESH KISSUN


processor says the acquisition of a rival processor in a challenging year is paying dividends. Bega’s A$528 million buyout of Lions Dairy and Drinks last year has more than doubled its size. Saputo Australia remains Australia’s largest milk processor. For the year ending June 30, 2021, Bega reported total revenues of over A$2 billion, 39% higher than the previous year. Normalised earnings before interest, depreciation and tax (EBITDA) jumped 38% to A$141.7 million. Bega executive chairman Barry Irvin says the importance of consistent strategy and strong values is never more evident than in times of uncertainty.

“Our capacity to be agile and change while remaining confident in the core direction and strategy was again tested and on display: as we executed the acquisition of Lion Dairy and Drinks. “We continue to adapt our business to operate in a Covid-19 safe manner and respond to changing customer and supplier requirements.” Bega ended the year with a net debt of A$324m, an increase of A$94m, mainly from A$125 million of net proceeds from borrowings to partially fund the acquisition of Lion Dairy and Drinks, capital and software investment. The increase was offset by operating cash inflows of A$111.4 million. The purchase of Lion Dairy saw Bega more than double in size in terms of both annualised revenue to approximately A$3 billion, and employees to over 4,000, expand

Bega Cheese executive chairman Barry Irvin says the buyout of Lions Dairy and Drinks last year has more than doubled the listed milk processor’s size.

its cold chain distribution network to now be one of the largest in the country, and significantly increase its proportion of sales from branded products from 59% to in excess of 80%. Irvin says strong farmgate relationships, along with the flexibility of a globally competitive supply chain, helped navigate fluctuations in demand for product and a competitive market for

milk supply. “Our people have, over the past year, continued to respond with agility, passion and dedication to the needs of customers, the community and the business, developing innovative solutions to new challenges and ensuring that our much-loved iconic branded products continued to reach both supermarket shelves and the hands of consumers – despite the challenges of

the Covid-19 pandemic,” he says. In addition to the acquisition of Lion Dairy, Bega completed and implemented the recommendations of an operational review, successfully concluded two longrunning legal disputes (including one with Fonterra), responded to the termination of service and access arrangements at the nutritional powder and canning facility in

Derrimut and expanded its branded product offering in growth categories with new product launches. Its infant formula business was impacted by Covid. Bega reports softening demand for infant formula during the year, due to changes in the Chinese market created by shifts in customer preferences and a weakened Diagou channel. “This drop in demand

was recognised by the business and mitigating initiatives have been implemented to reduce the financial impact, whilst still retaining the capability to service customers in the future,” the company says. It is signalling that capital investment in the year ahead will focus on capacity, product innovation, safety, and further efficiency. Bega chief executive Paul van Heerwaarden says strategic acquisition, product innovation and disciplined capital management have over the past year accelerated progress towards the vision of becoming the ‘Great Australian Food Company’. “Investment in our people, products, processes, communities and supplier relationships will bring us even closer to achieving that vision as we continue to develop a business for the future, whilst navigating the challenges of today.”



Arla Foods says it has delivered financial results and branded sales volumes at the top end of expectations, despite challenges posed by Covid-19. The farmer-owned business has released its results for the first half of 2021, with total revenues up 1.2% to almost NZ$9 billion. High branded sales volume grew 5.6% across all dairy categories, particularly in the retail sector. The cooperative’s performance price – which measures the value Arla creates for every kg of milk – was 64c compared to 62c for first half of 2020.

half of 2021. Arla says it paid Arla Food chief a competitive preexecutive officer Peder paid milk price, with Tuborgh says global increases over four conconsumer demand for secutive months leading dairy has remained to a first half average of strong over the first 60c/kg, nearly 3c higher half of 2021 as people than the same time last continue to value the year. taste, nutritional quality However, it says and variety that dairy many farmer shareholdPeder Turbogh brings to their diets. ers are challenged by “Our strong positions across the increased production costs as global prices for fuel, energy and feed are retail sector and commitment to innogoing up. On average, feed prices have vation, together with the resilience of increased by 13% per cow in the first our operations and farmer owners,

has meant that we have delivered a solid result for first half of 2021 and delivered good returns to our owners through an improved milk price,” says Turbogh. Arla says its trusted brands remain among consumer favourites globally. High demand for dairy across all categories and a strong operational execution resulted in Arla’s global brands delivering total sales volume growth of 5.6% in the first half of 2021. The Arla brand grew 6.9%. Arla’s stable of licensed brands also performed well, led by its ready drink Starbucks portfolio, which grew 43%

in volume across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Growth was seen in all markets but, among others, the UK and Denmark witnessed fast growth, driven in part by significant distribution gains in retail channels and the introduction of new products. Arla’s Food Service business saw a boost in sales in the spring as the hospitality sector re-opened. Turbogh says sales are not fully recovered due to prolonged global Covid-19 disruptions, but a re-balancing of demand between retail and the hospitality sector continues to play out. – Sudesh Kissun



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MILKING IT... More pain THE PAIN continues at listed Canterbury milk processor Synlait. The company is in talks with employees over plans to cut its workforce by 15% and annually save about $12 million. The company has been in turmoil since Covid decimated infant formula sales to China of its key customer and shareholder a2 Milk. Synlait co-founder John Penno, who was forced to come back as chief executive earlier this year, says some parts of the business are now over resourced, and some areas are under resourced. The new structure will “remove any unhelpful hierarchy from the organisation”.

Otis spread its wings

Failed legal action

Liquid or powder?

SALES GROWTH of liquid milk and yogurt alternatives – especially oat – have not gone unnoticed. Some global dairy companies, like Danone, are now selling billions of dollars worth of dairy milk alternatives annually. In New Zealand, the growth has been slow but one company – Otis Oat Milk – has grown into a brand now stocked nationwide. A freshly-inked deal with Countdown will put Otis, New Zealand’s first homegrown oat ‘milk’, on the shelves at the supermarket giant’s stores around the country. Otis is also encouraging farmers to grow oats and will put 1% of its total sales towards projects that make oats a “viable and exciting farming alternative”.

UK VEGAN and animal rights groups have failed in a bid to ban an advertising campaign promoting meat and dairy consumption as part of a balanced diet in Britain. The £1.5m “We Eat Balanced” campaign launched earlier this year by the UK Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board promoted eating meat and dairy as part of a “varied and balanced diet alongside a healthy lifestyle”. It included TV, online and newspaper ads, YouTube videos and a Facebook ad. Ads in the campaign stated that red meat and dairy are a source of B12 and protein. Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority received 487 complaints from mostly vegan and animal rights groups who claimed the adverts implied that dairy and meat consumption was required for a healthy, balanced diet. It rightly found that none of the ads were misleading and therefore the complaints were not upheld.

FONTERRA, THE biggest exporter of milk powder to Sri Lanka, may have a new battle on its hands. The Sri Lankan Cabinet has approved the importation of 4,200 dairy cows to five private companies to increase the production of liquid milk in the country. Sri Lanka’s annual milk requirement is 722 million litres. However, the current milk production in the country is 422 million litres. Due to this, the country spends US$365 million on importing milk powder – and Fonterra is the major supplier. The Sri Lankan Government says it also wants consumers to drink more liquid milk.

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THE DAIRY sector has a simple message for the Government – please take our plight seriously. Frustration is rife among farmers because the Government seems to be paying lip service to a crucial sector that has kept the country’s economy buzzing for the past 18 months. Like most primary producers, dairy farmers have been crying out for more overseas workers. However, it’s becoming clear that the Government isn’t genuine about helping dairy farmers. In June, the Government announced that it will grant border exceptions for 200 dairy farm workers and their families, comprising 150 herd managers or assistant farm managers and 50 farm assistants for critical-need areas only. Within that announcement they specified that herd managers be paid a salary of $79,500 and assistant managers a salary of $92,000 per annum. Since then the situation has turned to custard. Applications are currently open, but there is a long application and processing time, and there are some ongoing issues with this process. Farmers who have made applications on behalf of prospective overseas workers are being told by Immigration New Zealand that the salary of $79,500 for herd managers can only be applied to a maximum 40-hour work week. If there is an expectation of more weekly hours, this salary must be increased. If farmers are happy to proceed with the 40-hour week, the application can proceed. Otherwise, the application will be declined unless the salary is increased. Dairy News understands about 30 applications have been made that will be impacted. The issue highlights a major disconnect between Ministry of Primary Industries and other government departments, namely Immigration. DairyNZ has praised the work done by the MPI director-general and his team to help dairy farmers during Covid. However, it seems the goodwill doesn’t extend to Immigration. DairyNZ, as the implementation partner, negotiated the deal with MPI. Farmers were told that as long as salaries never went below the median wage, then the hours worked for the salaries had flexibility and would not be restricted to a 40 hour work week for the herd manager and assistant manager roles. The solution is clear – the Government must instruct Immigration NZ to allow overseas workers the flexibility to work extra hours with appropriate remuneration given the nature of farming work. But the worry is it may take several months for the Government to do this. Farmers need action now. It’s been three months since the Government allowed an extra 200 farm workers and their families to enter the country. But farmers are still struggling to get applications approved. That’s just not good enough.

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Dairy News is published by Rural News Group Limited. All editorial copy and photographs are subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without prior written permission of the publisher. Opinions or comments expressed within this publication are not necessarily those of the staff, management or directors of Rural News Group Limited.

WAIKATO SALES REPRESENTATIVE: Lisa Wise .......................................................Ph 027-369 9218 WELLINGTON SALES REPRESENTATIVE: Ron Mackay ................................................... Ph 021-453 914


OPINION  // 17

Benefits of shovel ready projects RUSS RIMMINGTON

AS I write, our nation has returned to lockdowns and it has given me time to reflect on all we have accomplished in the year since the Covid-19 pandemic hit this country hard. Part of what we have accomplished here at Waikato Regional Council is due to the Government’s economic response to Covid-19 – the provision of funding to cushion the financial blow to whānau and families, workers, businesses and communities from

projects include a reduction of sediments and contaminants to our waterways. This will improve water quality and enhanced habitats for our native species. Shovel ready funding has enabled us to start six flood protection projects in the Waikato – that will involve upgrading our stopbanks and pump houses, rationalising assets and replacing ageing pumps with new fish-friendly versions. The first of five fish-friendly pumps is due to be installed at Aka Aka, near Waiuku, and is quite an impressive looking

In the past year, thanks to that funding, we have been able to award 31 contracts to local businesses and see the equivalent of 34 people gainfully employed.

telecommunications and roading networks. Our schemes are built to protect against a certain level of flooding, and no more. When flood protection works well, it becomes invisible or

taken for granted. But there’s always risk. Just as we have seen recently in other parts of New Zealand. • Russ Rimmington is chair of Waikato Regional Council. Views are his own.

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piece of kit at 10 metres in length and 1.6 metres in diameter. The July floods on the West Coast and in the Marlborough district are a good reminder of how well we manage our infrastructure assets in the regional sector, and the importance of this work to protect our communities from the risks of flooding. The regional sector tour ahead of the Local Government New Zealand conference in the Marlborough district visited the Wairau River just five days before it flooded. It was hard to imagine at the time the enormous floodplain ever fully flowing. The stopbanks had been built after the 1983 floods and never been tested. That test came with the deluge that followed in July, with the stopbanks full to the brim and overtopping, but doing the job they were designed to do. Three quarters of the Waikato benefits from flood protection, but the work that’s done is not always understood by our communities. Flood protection safeguards lives and property, enables productive use of land, and protects services such as water supply, power,

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EID Stick reader the impacts of the lockdown – through what’s known as shovel ready projects. This council received a total contribution of around $29 million in shovel-ready project funding for multiple environmental restoration, biosecurity and climate resilience infrastructural multi-year projects totalling about $48 million across the Waikato region to help reset and rebuild the economy. In the past year, thanks to that funding, we have been able to award 31 contracts to local businesses and see the equivalent of 34 people gainfully employed. In the environmental restoration space, 25 hectares of land has been retired, 47.5 kilometres of fencing has been done, 110,081 native plants and 26,695 willow and poplar plants for erosion control have gone in the ground, and 133 hectares of land has been controlled for pest plants. Of these projects, the Piako River Green Corridor alone will see 36km of riparian margin planted with a quarter of a million native plants over the next five years. The benefits of these

Recent floods are a good reminder of how well we manage infrastructure assets in the regional sector, and the importance of this work to protect communities from the risks of flooding.

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‘Join the fun’ A FIRST-TIME com-

petitor, 2021 FMG Young Farmer of the Year Jake Jarman initially signed up to the contest in order to take part in the fun. “I saw it as a case of ‘I’ve got nothing to lose so I’ll get stuck in’ instead of being a spectator and watching all the other competitors have all the fun,” he says. The ANZ relationship associate won the Taranaki Manawatu Regional Final and represented the region at the grand final in Christchurch in July, eventually bringing the title home.  As a former dairy farmer and researcher for Dairy Trust Taranaki, he said he completely failed the wool module in his first taste of the district contest. “I definitely walked away having learnt a thing

or two, including how to put the lid of a beehive on properly on the top, not the bottom,” he says. His advice to all New Zealand Young Farmers (NZYF) members was to grab a mate, sign up for the district contest and personally challenge each other to see who will do better. “Districts are a lot more low-key so the competition would be within all of our member’s skill sets and I’d encourage everyone to give it a go,” he said. “You’re not going to embarrass yourself and if you don’t know about something, you will get taught on the day, so at least you walk away from the day having learnt something like I did,” he said. The coveted FMG Young Farmer of the Year

2022 contest will be kicking off with a roar on October 9th for season 54’s first qualifying rounds. Sixteen district contests will be held across the country over October and November to select eight of the best competitors in each of NZYF’s seven regions. Seven regional finals will be held early next year, where the winner from each will proceed to the grand final to battle it out for the 2022 FMG Young Farmer of the Year title in Whangarei, in July. District contests are hosted by an NZYF Club and involve half a day of practical challenges. NZYF chair Kent Weir would love to see more member participation in the district contests to support the clubs who volunteer their time and energy to convene the

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competition. “This is the perfect time to enter yourself, your clubmates, your workmates and even your partners into the district contests to have a bit of fun and earn a cold one at the end of the day,” he says.   “It’s a good opportunity to not just test yourself and benchmark yourself against your peers, but a chance to meet new people, connect with the community, potentially learn a thing or two and get off the farm and socialise with others in the industry.” Having been a NZYF member for nine years, Weir says he knows all too well the banter that hap-

FMG Young Farmer of the Year district contests test your practical skills.

pens in clubs and agreed with Jarman that sometimes the best challenge comes from your mates. “Get all of your mates involved, have a laugh and find out who actually brings what to the table

– especially seeing as districts are all about practical challenges,” he says. FMG Young Farmer of the Year began in 1969 and showcases the best of the country’s agriculture, food and fibre sector. It

is supported by FMG, Ravensdown, WorkSafe, Honda, Lincoln University, Massey University, MPI BiosecurityNZ, New Holland, North and South Fuels, PTS Logistics and STIHL.

ESCALATING WOMEN LEADERS TO BE a good leader you have to first know your ‘why,’ says Ravensdown shareholder and Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) Escalator programme graduate Donna Cram. “For me it is to connect people across agricultural communities using values-based communication to empower collaboration.” Cram, a dairy farmer at Wylan Dene farm near Awatuna in South Taranaki, was one of 14 women chosen by AWDT to take part in their annual Escalator programme. It gives women in the food and fibre sector “the mindsets, skills and connections to lead, govern and inspire”. Cram says the experience has helped her understand more about her own leadership qualities. “Most people have some form of imposter syndrome. “We make little of our achievements, and rarely see ourselves as leaders. “The Escalator programme has given me confidence in my leadership abilities and helped me understand my motivations through knowing my ‘why’.” Before taking part in the Escalator programme, Cram had already set her mind on creating positive outcomes in her community. She is chair of the Taranaki Dairy Environment Group and a member of Federated Farmers’ Dairy Committee. “One of the biggest things for me was the training with the Institute of Directors in Wellington. It was intensive, but it really helped

Philip and Donna Cram, Wylan Dene farm, Sth Taranaki.

me develop governance skills so I can be a more effective board member.” The Escalator programme also helped Donna understand that her community-mindedness was actually leadership. Donna and husband Phil Cram have fenced 9.7km of streambanks and made over 11,700 plantings in the past 12 years to protect waterways on their land. It was part of a vision that foresaw a need for Taranaki’s rural communities to come together for local solutions to social and legislative changes.  “The skills and confidence gained on the Escalator programme enabled me to turn that vision into Taranaki Catchment Communities Incorporated.  “We have brought together 13 pan-sector catchment communities throughout Taranaki and are await-

ing a contract from MPI (Ministry for Primary Industries) which will give us funding to empower rural communities with knowledge and specialist skills to face change and ensure a sustainable future. This is farmer led, farmer driven, and each community has come up with its own plan.     “Without being part of the AWDT Escalator programme, and its network of women, I would not have had the confidence to begin this initiative,” she says. Ravensdown is a strategic partner of AWDT and the Escalator programme, and provided Donna with sponsorship as part of a 2020 initiative to create meaningful, women-led change across the primary sector. Applications for the 2022 AWDT Escalator programme open in late July. For more details, check out the AWDT website.



Animal traceability key for breeders BULL BREEDERS

Hamish and Mary McRae list animal traceability as a top priority. When buying bulls, they use the same stock agents and choose animals that have sound traceability. “One of the stock agents we’ve dealt with for 18 years,” says Hamish. “As a supplier of sire bulls, you’re always wary of animals that may have had multiple movements. The only beef animals we introduce to our breeding unit are sire bulls.” The McRaes farm beef and sheep over 5,200ha at Lochiel Station near Hanmer Springs and operate a 520ha beef finishing farm nearby. As service bull providers, they’re gearing up for a busy season and that involves ensuring all bulls are traceable before they

go off-farm. Their beef breeding operation has 870 Angus and Hereford breeding cows, with about 2,300 beef animals in total. They employ four staff. Hamish says there are two farms: the main farm and the finishing block 20 minutes way, both under one NAIT number. Buying in service bulls depends on the season, the price and available feed. “Typically, we’ll buy them at 100 kilos and up to 400 kilos so there isn’t a set pattern,” says Hamish. For their dairy customers, animal traceability is also paramount. Hamish says dairy farmers they deal with won’t buy bulls if the animals have no traceability. “The M. bovis disease has made a huge difference as to how farmers

Hamish and Mary McRae list animal traceability as top priority.

view NAIT and the value of tracing animals. “You can see the evidence too in the NAIT system, animal registra-

tions are at an all-time high and it’s a no-brainer if you want to protect your herd and business.” The McRaes supply

multiple dairy farms each season. One of their buyers purchases 50 Hereford bulls for servicing to

other clients. This season, Hamish expects to offload about 150 bulls. NAIT obligations for the farm is looked after by their stock manager as he oversees the beef finishing farm where the greatest NAIT movement activity is. “I receive updates on confirmed animal movements by email. All the animals are scanned on and off-farm,” says Hamish. To register animals in NAIT, the farm uses a Tru-Test scanner along with the Datamars Cloud Farmer App. “All staff have access, it is ideal for bluetooth compatibility and the app is a great back up for maintaining your animal health records and sales. “You don’t need to go back to the office and plug into the desktop. You can do all transactions at

the cattle yard.” Tag retention is reasonably good. Hamish says they often find missing tags when animals are brought in for TB testing. “In that case, we’ll ensure the animal has a replacement tag and that tag is registered in NAIT. The reality is animals will always lose tags, though it’s not a big problem for us. “The farm has never sent an ‘unsafe to tag bull’ to the meat processor. We have ample tagging facilities on-farm for tagging our bulls.” His advice to farmers on NAIT is to keep your accounts up to date. “Whether moving animals or registering them, just do it at the time, and that way you won’t forget. Also, it’s important to have a good relationship with your stock agent.”



Bull sales continue in lockdowns A HYBRID auction platform launched during last year’s Covid lockdown is allowing beef and dairy bull sales across the North Island to continue. The MyLivestock hybrid auction platform, which combines saleyard, farm and online auctions, was developed ahead of last year’s lockdown. NZ Farmers Livestock general manager livestock, Bill Sweeney, says fortuitously, it was ready to launch when the 2020 Covid lockdown was announced. Farmers were able to choose whether to physically or virtually attend a stock sale. “The ability to ‘virtually’ attend a stock sale opened the country up – farmers were suddenly able to bid at any sale around New Zealand without leaving the farm and they could confidently bid in real

COVID GUIDELINES CONTACT TRACING QR codes will be on display at all sites. The names and contact details of all those attending saleyard and on-farm sales will be recorded either via the Contact Tracing QR app or manually. All buyer registration, post purchase confirmation, NAIT transfers, and carrier selection/ arrangement (delegated to agents to arrange) will be handled outside of the immediate sale area. Any person infected with or displaying any symptoms of Covid-19, or who is a vulnerable person (by virtue of their age, underlying health condition, clinical condition or are pregnant), or with any concerns that they may have been exposed to Covid-19, are prohibited from entering the site. Social distancing, hand washing/sanitising and related PPE (masks and gloves will be available, and use in line with government direction required). High use contact services are regularly sanitised.

time knowing transport and NAIT requirements would be attended to, and the stock would duly arrive on farm. It was a

whole new environment and one which farmers embraced,” says Sweeney. “Providing an online option for farmers to

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Angus bulls that will be on offer at the BullsEye Sale, east of Huntly next week.

attend and bid at stock sales was a concept we’d been developing for some time. “Traditionally farmers are often faced with a day’s travel to attend a sale and the demands of farming often make this very difficult. “We wanted to give them options – of either attending a sale or attending any sale in New Zealand on their mobile or home computer.” The online option didn’t replace physically attending sales however. Sweeney notes that stock sales have an important social function in rural communities. “This is true especially

in tough times and so, throughout Levels 3 and 2 in 2020, we continued to have a good number of farmers attend our sales under strict Covid guidelines.” Sweeney says the hybrid auction platform will, once again, bolster the beef and dairy industries during the current Covid restrictions. NZ Farmers Livestock’s 2021 Spring bull sale calendar is one of the largest ever. It has a record number of bulls coming forward at 30 sales across the North Island – all of which will continue under Level 3 and 2. Around 1,000 mainly

yearling Jersey, Hereford and Angus bulls will go under the hammer at sales during September and October, in the main on the respective breeder’s farm. “We are delighted with the overall quality of bulls which will satisfy the demands of beef and dairy farmers – short gestation, low birth weight and easy calving. All bulls are BVD tested and inoculated,” says Sweeney. He says strict operating procedures apply at all NZ Farmers Livestock bull sales. “Attendance at stockyard and on-farm sales is limited to those interested in buying, those required

to operate the sale, a limited number of vendor representative agents and stock handlers. “As farm and stockyards are classed as work places there is no attendance maximum but social distancing and other Covid safety requirements apply. “To inject some fun into proceedings, at the end of the bull sale calendar we will hold a draw for a cash payment of $2,500 for a lucky farmer who bought or booked their purchase at one of our on farm sales – every bull purchase going into the draw.” @dairy_news


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WAIKATO DAIRY farmers may face challenges from pasture with low nutritional value as they head into spring and balance date approaches. That’s the view of GrainCorp Feeds’ technical support manager Glen McFarlane. “We’re 15-20 days from when grass growth is supposed to meet feed demands,” says McFarlane. “The growth seems fine, but I think the nutritional value of our pastures could be low. We’ve had low sunlight hours this winter/ autumn, which means sugar levels in the grass will have dropped. We can’t afford to have our herds undernourished.” McFarlane points out that at this time of the season, the energy demands on a cow is at its highest. Energy spent during calving and pregnancy must be replenished if milk production is to be profitable. His main concern is making sure

the issues, it’s about farmers’ herds are ranking them in getting the calories order of timing and they need to stay impact. What can healthy. we change right now “Each cow is that will help finanrunning a maracially? What are the thon every day in bigger problems we terms of energy can deal with later? loss. Farmers have Sometimes it’s a to put that energy combination; there’s back in. If a cow is a problem coming up 25% down on cal- Glen McFarlane, GrainCorp Feeds. in six months, but we ories, that energy has to come from somewhere else. need to do the right things now to If it isn’t from feed, it’ll be taken set us up properly. If we don’t, the from the cow’s own system. In the dominos fall badly.” The current calving period is a end, the farmer will pay for it in dropped production and fertility.” good example of this. “If a farmer’s calving spread When it comes to solving farm problems, McFarlane takes a is too wide, it affects next year’s sequential approach. It begins with mating season. Let’s say some calves arrive two months late; listening. “It’s about listening to the that’ll mean up to 60 days of lost farmer, working out what the lactation next season. Farmers can challenges are from the farmer’s lose a lot of money at the front point of view. Once I understand end.”



Air-cushioned comfort for cows in wintering shed OTAGO DAIRY farmers

Paul and Kyllee Henton are firm believers in the idea that New Zealand farmers are innovators. If something isn’t available, hasn’t been invented or can’t be done, there is always a farmer somewhere sourcing it, making it or doing it, says Kyllee, a registered veterinarian. The couple, who run White River Holstein Friesians, did exactly that when they couldn’t find suitable flooring for their 600-cow wintering shed. They went into research and development mode and decided to manufacture their own. It has resulted in them launching a company, Agri-Tech Imports, which they run alongside their 580-cow herd operation, supplying Mataura Valley Milk. The couple have been on the farm for 15 years, after entering an equity partnership with Kyllee’s parents to purchase the property. The Pomahaka River sits just two farms over from them and the Heriot Burn waterway runs through the middle of their farm. They have flooded in previous seasons and Kyllee says they get snow most winters. The harsh climate was the reason behind building the 600-cow wintering shed; they say the increased comfort for

Paul and Kyllee Henton says they wanted a product on the floor with a decent amount of cushioning, and there was nothing on the market here.

their animals equates to increased milk and ultimately increased profits. The herd produces about 550 kgMS/cow, and they have access to the feed pad as they need. The Batt Latch gates are unlocked at 3am and the cows come in under their own steam ahead of morning milking. As milking is finished, they go back onto the pasture until the gates are automatically unlocked again around lunchtime and the herd can head back onto the feed pad. During the harshest winter weather Kyllee says they can keep the herd on the pad 24/7, and that is why they started looking for compressible flooring. “We wanted a product on the floor with a decent amount of cushioning, and there was nothing on the market here.” Paul’s brother David Henton, based in China and involved in manufac-

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duce what they needed. The mats are made

in a mould rather than being cut, and they have a specially-designed compression layer on their base that makes them soft and comfortable. “It gives the cows good confidence to walk around the pad and they don’t slip or fall. We knew it was a success when they started lying down and standing up just as they normally would in the paddock,” says Kyllee. The lameness in their herd also dropped com-

pletely. The Hentons use a gravity fed greenwash system to clean the pad, and collect rainwater off the pad’s roof to wash out the feed troughs. Green water is taken from the effluent pond on the property fed into a tank and when it’s released, it washes like a tidal wave down the feed pad, says Kyllee. “It’s really effective and it’s the best way to manage the wash-down environmentally too,”

says Kyllee. While the mats were designed for their own use, Kyllee says other farmers became interested and they are now manufacturing the mats to order, selling direct to customers and keeping stock in Auckland and Otago to service both islands. The mats are also used and Kyllee says dairy farmers have also found the mats useful for the entry and exit points on rotary milking sheds.



Cows part of the solution NEW LINCOLN Uni-

versity pastoral livestock production lab research is defining how to get the maximum benefit from cows predisposed to uri-

nate nitrogen (N), resulting in less leaching to waterways. PhD student Cameron Marshall has just published two new articles in

top scientific journals as part of his doctoral thesis, showing that what cows with phenotypically lower milk urea N eat, and how they eat, is important to

reduce their environmental impact. He says inefficient N use from pastoral dairy production systems has resulted in concern Cameron Marshall’s research is showing promising results of using an animal-based solution to N leaching.






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“This is a result of excessive urinary N leaching into waterways and nitrous oxide emissions from urination patches into the atmosphere. Dairy cows are demonised for it, but can be part of the solution too.” regarding environmental degradation “and cows are demonised for it”. “This is a result of excessive urinary N leaching into waterways and nitrous oxide emissions from urination patches into the atmosphere. Dairy cows are demonised for it, but can be part of the solution too,” he said. His first paper reports that cows with low milk urea N concentrations eating plantain rather than a ryegrass diet, urinate significantly less N excretion per urination event, thus reducing the potential N leaching to waterways. The second paper found that the grazing and ruminating behaviour of cows selected for divergent milk urea N, masticate, and ruminate the pasture they eat differently, which determines their rumen function and the efficiency of N digestion

and use in the rumen. This alters the N excretion patters to the environment. Cameron’s previous research has already shown that cows selected for low milk urea N had a 28% reduction in the urinary urea N loading rate per urine patch than cows with higher milk urea N breeding values. Those ‘better cows’ also yielded an increase in milk protein percentage. “The results of this new research indicate two promising tools that temperate pastoral dairy production systems can use to reduce N losses and ameliorate the negative impact on the environment.” Cameron’s research is showing promising results of using an animal-based solution in conjunction with dietary management strategies to reduce the environmental impact from dairy farms in New Zealand.

CHEW ON THIS DURING THIS study cows divergent for milk urea N breeding values (MUNBV) exhibited different grazing patterns and oral processing of ingesta and digesta through differentiated mastication and chewing rates, respectively. A greater number of mastications and chews in low MUNBV animals may result in a steadier inflow of more fermentable ingesta and digesta to the rumen, respectively. This in turn may add to and help explain differential rumen function and nutrient supply to the host animal, which could help elucidate different observations in phenotypes previously reported for grazing dairy cows divergent for MUNBV.



Valtra earning its keep THE FIRST Valtra

tractor joined the Butler family’s farming business in 2000, bought in a hurry to work on a Canterbury conversion and proving itself to be capable and reliable. The business has since owned another eight. While Michael Butler helps oversee the running of the business’ dairy farms, he and his wife Shanekea also own and operate the Waikato-based Spraylink agricultural spray contracting business which they bought in 2018. The operation runs three dedicated spray trucks and two Valtra tractors equipped with trailed sprayers. When spraying goes quiet in January and February, the team shifts to baling, buying and baling standing grass from Fonterra, mostly for consumption by the family’s own cows, with any surplus offered for sale. Currently four Valtra’s are scattered over the family’s dairy farms and contracting business, including a T174D, N143, N101 and an A92 model. The latest, the T174D, is usually Michael’s preferred tractor, who notes, “I bought it for myself and often spend many hours a day in it, so it helps to be comfortable. I like the air-conditioning, the sound system and the coolbox and there is room to move. I also ensured I ordered the top of the line seat as well. It’s a

quiet cab with a great layout and a good light atmosphere. It is not dark and miserable”. Featuring a 7.4-litre, six-cylinder engine that meets Stage V EU emission regulations, AdBlue is part of the mix, but Michael says this isn’t a problem. “It goes four to five days on a single tank and is just something you have to do to move with the times.” The direct CVT transmission is ideal for spraying duties, as the operator does not have to think about gears. “You just put your foot on the accelerator, and it goes faster. There are two ways to flick into reverse – using the shuttle on the gear stick or the button on the command joystick,” Michael says. He also likes having the option to assign functions to buttons and then store those functions as implement settings. This means, when they unhitch the tank and put on a mower, they just click on ‘Mower’ and those saved functions are now active. Michael and Shanekea’s T174D pulls a 6,000-litre sprayer or drives a 5m-wide twin mower rig, working on hills or the flat delivering plenty of traction and power, while the 5.25m turning circle also makes the tractor very nimble. Its standard features include load sensing hydraulics, electrichydraulic control and a SmartTouch arm rest, incorporating a 9-inch

touchscreen that Michael says it is very userfriendly and easy to work with. With its second seat, the T174D is ideal for training staff, although Michael notes, “Valtra tractors are very simple to use, so as staff get more experienced, we can introduce them to more functions”. One of the two Valtra tractors equipped with trailed sprayers, owned by the Butlers’ spray contracting business.

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No fences? No problem! MARK DANIEL

WHILE NEW Zealand is regarded to be the home of No.8 wire and electric fencing, it looks like the future of fencing might be virtual. Already we have seen companies like Halter demonstrate the control of cows using vibrating collars and recently Gallagher bought Australian company Agersens, but it looks like the northern hemisphere is a little ahead of us. Norwegian company No Fence Grazing Systems (NFGS) claims to have produced the world’s first commercially available system that works equally well with cows, sheep and goats.

First conceived in the 1990s by Norwegian Oscar Horde Berntsen, granted a patent in 2009, and trialled extensively between 2015 and 2020, the product has gone on to be used by 2,500 customers, who have fitted nearly 28,000 collars and monitored 74 million hours of pasture management. Like the systems we see in NZ, the collar delivers an audible signal that trains the animal to recognise the virtual boundary. The grazier uses the No Fence app to draw virtual boundaries or ‘breaks’ within a paddock. If an animal starts to move towards that boundary, an audible cue gives a warning to the animal, getting increasingly loud as it gets nearer, encouraging

The grazier uses the No Fence app to draw virtual boundaries or ‘breaks’ within a paddock.

the animal to move in the opposite direction. If it chooses not to respond, a mild half-second duration electrical pulse, at about 18% of the kick of a traditional electric fence, is activated. When a pulse is activated,

the user is sent a message with the animal’s location. After three pulses, the animal is highlighted as a possible escapee, again with its position, so the user can investigate. Said to offer better pasture utilisation and

animal welfare with regards to feed consumption, the systems also offers the ability to exclude animals from sensitive areas like rivers or streams, waterlogged areas of a paddock following heavy rain events,

or indeed, any areas of potential danger. As well as the grazing benefits, there are major time savings related to moving electric fences or maintaining existing permanent fence infrastructure. The system is also suitable for rugged environments where the dangers and practicality of establishing permanent fencing situations make it expensive in relation to production. The system comprises a collar/transponder fitted around the neck of each animal, weighing around 1,400g. This incorporates a 20Ah solar rechargeable battery that is said to be good for around three months. The system uses a combination of GPS, Bluetooth and a three-axis motion sensor to allow

precise interpretation of the animal’s position, movements and behavioural characteristics. Virtual fences can be established over areas that measure up to 6.4km long by 6.4km wide, its boundary set by placing up to 39 virtual fenceposts around the perimeter. The manufacturer suggests that training animals to use the system takes around five days, initially inside a fully fenced conventional paddock, then gradually introducing a virtual back fence, then moving to a fully virtual area. Future developments include optimal automatic paddock/area movement timer, based on pasture cover, pasture growth rates, weather, soil type, animal age and bodyweight.

OPD COMING ON ALL OZ ATVS WITH JUST a month to go before all

new and second-hand imported ATVs bikes sold in Australia must be fitted with operator protection devices (OPD) and meet minimum stability requirements, one in six quad bikes for sale through dealerships do not meet the new national safety standards. State and territory consumer protection agencies have been conducting surveys to examine whether suppliers were complying with stage one requirements of the Quad Bike Safety Standard, which has been in place since October 2020. Surveillance took place in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia at dealerships which included all major quad bike brands, alongside some of the

less well-known marques. Under stage one of the Quad Bike Safety Standard, all new and imported second hand quad bikes sold in Aus-

tralia must be tested for lateral static stability and have a hang tag attached to them showing the angle at which the quad bike tips onto two wheels.

They are required to carry a roll over warning label on the bike and the owner’s manual must also include roll over safety information. ACCC deputy chairman Mick Keogh said, “although roughly one in six machines, were not compliant with the safety standard, suppliers have so far cooperated with our investigations and taken steps to fix problems, including recalling noncompliant bikes where necessary”. Suppliers who fail to comply with a mandatory safety or information standard can be found guilty of a criminal offence, with a maximum fine of AU$500,000 for individuals or AU$10 million for body corporates. When stage two comes into effect from October 11, all new and second-

hand imported quad bikes sold in Australia must be fitted with operator protection devices (OPD) and meet minimum stability requirements. These requirements have been a contentious topic for a number of years and have led to the withdrawal of several brands from the Australian quad market, with Honda, Yamaha and Suzuki planning to exit the market when stage 2 comes into force, following Polaris who have already left. In contrast, the Australian distributor of CFMoto, Mojo Motorcycles, are one of the companies that have opted to continue supplying ATVs, meeting the stage two requirements early and fitting OPDs as standard across its entire range. – Mark Daniel


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Irrigation technology evolves, delivering better value ON-FARM IRRIGATION technology has

evolved at a fast pace over the last two decades and farmers have both adopted and evolved with it and have helped it evolve, according to WaterForce. The irrigation system

experts believe the future value from technology and irrigation looks fantastic with the evolution of technologies such as advanced AI and satellite/drone data, alongside the improvements in core product lines like sprinklers, and control and

monitor products. “We have plenty of options available to deliver great results for farmers today,” it says. Farm irrigation technology will mean different things to different users. Generically, technology references the wide range

of smart irrigation products that help farmers with water management and water use; and this is commonly available with products such as Valley Irrigation’s Valley 365. These are products for smart control and monitoring of on-farm irriga-

LOOKING TO UPGRADE? TECHNOLOGY IS constantly evolving, meaning products change quickly so you need to ensure improvements and upgrades are yielding value from day one. When looking at on farm upgrades, WaterForce suggests that the following are key questions in your investment research: What do I already have on farm and am I making use of this? A wide range of products exist on many pivot or linear-irrigated farms already. Are you using these to their full potential? Making the most of these can help you understand your next investments and what will give you the best yields in the future. Is the hardware/product I’m looking at aligned with future product upgrades on my irrigator? Many irrigators in NZ are over 10 years old now. In many cases these units will continue to operate for many more years, but will need replacement at some point. If you are investing in upgrades today, consider the age of your fleet and what products would be installed if critical hardware on them failed tomorrow. What are the critical ‘wins’ I want from technology? Is it improved production? Reduced water use? More time off farm whilst keeping an eye on

Depending on your aims, you will have different levels of interaction with your technology.

what’s happening? Do you need additional information to support your decision making? Are you after reduced fuel usage or lower power bills? Listing your aims can help clarify what’s important today, and in the future. What lifespan do I want from technology and what should its ‘whole of life cost’ be? Products available vary in design, specification, capital and running cost. Discuss running costs vs capital cost, product lifespan expectations, and upgrade paths with your suppliers. Changes to the cellular network can add costs down the line (3G technology will be switched off in the not-too-distant future). Radio mesh networks and the newer cellular communications

products (Lora/Sigfox/NB-IOT) can often appeal with lower running costs. However, they can have limitations in the information they can transmit; or be at risk of one part breaking down and all parts of your system failing and losing critical data/ services, until they are replaced. Bleeding edge vs leading edge? NZ is seen as a quick adopter of tech and this often leads to new products being released here first. Ensure you understand the products you are looking at. Being the first customer in the region with products suits some growers, whilst others prefer the triedand-true approach. Understand the partners and their products before you invest. What do I need to do to make best use of this technology? Depending on your aims, you will have different levels of interaction with your technology. The automated farm is several years away. For now, decision making about best use of technology on farm, saving power, reduction of water usage etc relies on the farmer. The technology supports the decisions, but the farmer remains critical to getting the best production, for the lowest cost and environmental impact Understand who in your team will help make best use of this investment.

Irrigation system experts believe the future value from technology and irrigation looks fantastic.

tors. Typically, they are advanced control systems, soil moisture measuring systems, weather stations, flow-meter monitoring and management products like SCADAfarm EDGE. It can also be adding simple products to a pivot, or linear, like rain buckets, or wind speed indictors, or even upgrading your sprinkler pack. WaterForce says as farming has evolved, a

growing trend both locally and internationally is emerging – a demand for reductions in labour and travel times; and for improvements in the management, and reductions in the use, of water and nutrients. On-farm technology has evolved to meet this demand, and the toolbox available to farmers is growing every day – from the simple product improvements (like

new sprinkler pack technologies) through to the advanced control and monitoring products now available. A common challenge for users of technology is understanding your core goals and aims before investing in on-farm technology. To get the best out of technology products they need to be delivering against farm objectives from day one.

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A decade of diversity

Members of the Hurunui Waiau Uwha Zone Committee (HWUZC) view biodiversity gains made at Smothering Gully a decade after the freshwater biodiversity programme began.

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ESTABLISHING A collective voice and providing an opportunity for the North Canterbury community to have a say on freshwater are some of the reasons behind the formation of the Sefton Saltwater Creek Catchment Group which celebrates its first anniversary this month. The group’s vision is “Healthy Waterways, Healthy Land, Healthy People, Healthy Future”. Coordinator Carolyne Latham, a local farmer, says the catchment area which is bordered by Te Aka Aka/Ashley Estuary and the coast on the eastern side and extends into Ashley Downs on the western side, contains a mix of farms, lifestyle blocks, industry and the small towns of Ashley, Sefton and Balcairn. The group pro-

vides people from different backgrounds with an opportunity to get involved in learning about and improving the local environment. “We had 31 people at our initial meeting a year ago who gave us a mandate to form the group and interest is ongoing from new members.” Carolyne describes the first year as “a bit of a fact-finding mission” with several meetings and a series of field trips across the catchment. “We’ve had presentations on the current state of waterways including Te Aka Aka/Ashley Estuary and we’ve learned how to take stream water samples and assess stream health. “We’ve also visited retention areas on hill-fed Stony and Fox’s creeks and learned how they function to capture sedi-

ment in run-off before it reaches spring-fed streams on the flats. “It’s very much a locally-led initiative with members setting the direction and deciding what they need to know in terms of meeting the group’s vision for a healthy catchment.” One of the members hosted the group on their lifestyle block to demonstrate how minor earthworks such as swales and bunding could be used to slow water, soak it into the ground, stop erosion and settle sediment out. In May, the group visited Ashley Forest with Rayonier Matariki Forests. Carolyne says this site visit covered the entire headwaters of the catchment and provided an in-depth understanding of the environmental regulations

that plantation forests are required to operate under, along with weed and pest control, and general forestry management. The group has discussed expanding water monitoring networks within the catchment as there is currently minimal monitoring undertaken and limited knowledge about the state of Stony and Fox’s creeks which are both hill-fed. “We’re keen to establish a baseline to enable benchmarking and identify trends over time which will increase our knowledge of local waterways.” The catchment group is currently reviewing progress made during its first year and deciding what to focus on for the next 12 months. @dairy_news

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Freshwater catchment group brings community together THE HURUNUI Waiau Uwha Zone Committee (HWUZC), North Canterbury recently visited a landmark restoration project established ten years ago to learn about biodiversity improvements gained through fencing and weed control. The project is a partnership between landowners Hamilton Glens farm near Waipara, the QEII National Trust and Environment Canterbury’s Immediate Steps freshwater biodiversity programme. It has received $24,000 of Immediate Steps funding over the last decade which has been used for fencing to keep farm livestock out of the protected area and for the removal of wilding pines through drilling and poisoning. The fencing has created a buffer between the farm and Smothering Gully Stream, a four kilometre waterway flowing to the Omihi Stream, which is a tributary of the Waipara River. A walking track has also been created through the area which the landowners enjoy sharing with visitors. Environment Canterbury biodiversity officer Zipporah Ploeg says huge improvements have been made since the inception of the project with native pygmy mistletoes (pirita) recovering in the QEII covenant site due to stock exclusion. The site also contains locally rare southern rātā and filmy ferns (piripiri). “Protecting areas with different ecosystems is vital as it helps to ensure that biodiversity unique to the Hurunui can flourish. Once the major threats are managed, in this case woody weeds and stock grazing, the native vegetation can quickly regenerate. “Controlling the spread of wilding pines has helped to protect this important native ecosystem. Drilling and poisoning the pines means they decay naturally, and this method creates less interference for native seedlings.” QEII National Trust/Ngā Kairauhi Papa North Canterbury regional representative Miles Giller describes the area as a site where “geology is the kingpin”. “There is a lot of exposed sandstone and one of the quirky features is that it is porous and can slowly release water in dry areas which helps plants like filmy ferns thrive in a relatively dry environment.” The Hurunui District Council is now establishing a new Hurunui Water and Land Committee, in partnership with Kaikōura and Ngāi Tūāhuriri Rūnanga, and Environment Canterbury.


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Sefton Saltwater Creek Catchment Group members learned about environmental regulations for plantation forests during a recent visit to Ashley Forest hosted by Rayonier Matariki Forests.



Kiwi innovation for HK wastewater system MARK DANIEL

WHILE WELL known in

New Zealand’s dairying circles, Matamata-based Forsi Innovations are also

sought further afield, such as a project about to be commissioned at the City University of Hong Kong. This university was undertaking a new and sizable project to set up a dairy veterinary train-

ing facility just outside of central Hong Kong, in the Kowloon province. The facility takes the form of a small dairy farm, housing 50 adult and 25 young stock in a barn-type set up, using bought-in feed

and milking through a single-sided 9-bale herringbone shed. Forsi was approached as it seemed one of the few companies in the world that could filter all the effluent from

the barns and milking shed to a strictly regulated and very high standard for discharge back into the municipal wastewater system. The fact they were able to supply a bespoke system that Forsi is taking its technology abroad, such as a project about to be commissioned at the City University of Hong Kong.

Farmer Brad Burling and his daughter


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met the specific needs of the university’s project, helped Forsi get the contract. Meeting Hong Kong’s extremely strict water discharge regulations requires no uncontrolled discharges, with all reject liquid waste from the filter elements captured in an absorbent medium, which is eventually used as a slow-release fertiliser on a farm or market garden. The system comprises of a series of separation processes, each stage taking out a certain sized particulate, getting finer with each step. The end process is a reverse osmosis (RO) filtration that removes any viruses or pathogens. The system also includes an in-built sanitation system that ensures no bacterial growth will occur in the treated liquid after the RO process, allowing it to be stored and hold its quality until required. The Forsi system has built-in redundancy: it is a two-in-one unit, meaning that if there is an issue with any part of the process, one side can be shut down and the other side started up. The design allows full monitoring and remote access to the system from Forsi’s Matamata HQ, as well

as local oversight from a team in Hong Kong. The quality of water discharged from the system is equal to that of drinking water standards, a benchmark set by the governing body in Hong Kong because there was no clean water standard for effluent and a defined parameter needed to be set. Craig Hawes from Forsi says, this technology is revolutionary and can be adapted to any wastewater situation, not just effluent. “We originally developed the system for the New Zealand dairy effluent situation that was prevalent back in 201415, but due to the dairy payout dropping as it did for the 2016 season, effluent systems were no longer priorities for farmers. “As the focus returns to better effluent management, our modular systems can be configured for basic separation situations, but with added filtration elements, can deliver high quality water for ‘flood washing’ holding yards, with the added benefit of reduced bacterial loading that stops the development of slime, alongside better hoof health.”

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Effluent Pond Stirrers Stirring Ponds The Way Science Says It Should Be Done

Planning your riparian project ADELE CARSON

WHEN PLANNING a project it is

with persistent weeds and are concerned they will take over, introduce trees that will also grow fast, (e.g. wineberry and tree lucerne, the later also being a handy addition to your stock feed) to block light from your weeds. The present quality of the stream water also needs to be understood. Riparian plants will help to reduce nitrogen wash off from your land, but this is not the only goal. Good oxygen levels in the water will

important to be clear what current conditions exist, what information you need to collect to determine this and importantly a clear understanding of the goals you wish to achieve. A lack of clear goals, especially among the restoration community (neighbouring farms and lifestyle blockers) is a key reason such projects fall over. A lack of careful design is another key Once you have identified issue. the plants you wish to With goals and design in keep, it is also a good idea mind, it is important to start to start thinking about by determining the current state of your site, and a posi- what you would like to tion on site for assessment plant and where. and monitoring to be undertaken. This should include a site map encourage fish and insect life and (dimensions and current positioning improve the ecosystem dynamics, of plants), a review of site manage- but is also strongly affected by agriment, a visual assessment of the site cultural activities upstream. When embarking on a projinternally and from its edge, noting numbers, types and the state of the ect communicate your vision with current canopy plants, threats or neighbouring farmers and lifestyle negatives (e.g. weeds, goats) appar- blockers. Persuasion may be needed ent, along with positives like bird and and the ability to work together to a unified goal is of utmost imporinsect present. Photographic evidence is also tance. When collecting informavaluable here. Once you have iden- tion on existing birds and insects, tified the plants you wish to keep, it volume of song and visual counts is also a good idea to start thinking are useful. To determine insects about what you would like to plant present, simple methods like pitfall traps and leaf litter sampling within a and where. A map or sketch at this point will given area (possibly 5M2 for smaller, help you envisage your best outcome quarter hectare plots, multiplying up or goal. Several good riparian plants for larger multi hectare sites) are a including flax, toe toe and grasses like starting point. This pre-setup data will aid the carex to stabilise the soil, fix nitrogen and clean water pollutants. Plant development of goals. For examthese closest to your water, then aim ple, weeds like blackberry could be for the taller plants (e.g. tree fuchsia, an issue needing to be dealt with, kanuka, manuka, kowhai and cabbage but the plan to tackle this may have trees) to be a little further back up consequences also needing to be the banking. If you have problems addressed (e.g. chemicals pollut-

ing close waterways, requiring monitoring) and included in the plan. Once goals (e.g. weed management, water quality improvement, soil erosion control, honey production or more holistically, a general ecosystem improvement) are determined, create a sketch to visualise outcomes. A brief written plan outlining steps to achieve goals is useful, this can also note what will be monitored, including frequency required. Presetup data will also highlight other issues prior to actioning your plan. Making the site safe to work in is of prime importance. If your site is large, pre-determining the initial section size (and any additional plots for subsequent years), including monitoring and maintenance requirements should also be considered at the start. Should weeds be an issue (e.g. blackberry), potentially choking new seedlings, then photographs from one monitoring visit to the next will indicate problems and progress. Frequency of monitoring would depend on weeds present, but for tough weeds monthly spring to mid-autumn (e.g. blackberry) for at least the first four years, until riparian plants take hold. has useful information on sprays and concentrations for different weeds. If a goal is to naturally regenerate desired plants you had in your initial inspection, then you need to track and record new seedlings taking hold in your plot. Large areas are difficult to track, so mark out (again digital photography is helpful) several given sections (maybe 5M2 plots) to follow close by your existing desired plants. Monitor each season for the first year, then annually until these seeds hold good (maybe for seven years). If you are TO PAGE 30

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Riparian planting needs planning, monitoring FROM PAGE 29

looking to plant new seedlings or riparian plants, follow a similar monitoring pattern. Another goal may be to be to improve quality of water in your creek. Many simple techniques can assist understanding water quality at little cost and complexity. For example, water speed (indicating oxygen levels) can be gauged by dropping an object in the water and timing its movement along a given stretch (use the same method over time to

monitor quality). Similarly, clarity can indicate general water quality by repeatedly observing a set amount of water in a given glass vessel or bottle. Increasing type and number birds and insect life may also be a goal. Marry this monitoring in with checking weeds, seedling growth and water quality in terms of frequency. Pitfall traps and leaf litter sampling are simple and inexpensive methods of tracking type and numbers of ground living

invertebrates (e.g. ground beetles and snails). Generally, the more insects (and flowering trees like kowhai and wineberry) you have, the more bird life you have. Don’t forget to photograph (and date) them too and track bird song. If you are unsure who you can hear singing away, online recordings of New Zealand bird song can be heard for identification at DOC’s website. Riparian planting can turn around water, vegetation and bird life at your site, but clear goals, based

on a shared vision with neighbours are needed. It’s not without much work and commitment, but the benefits to local and regional community can include economic, social and environmental factors. Remember, community can start at home, getting the kids involved too can be a fun family activity and a great way to educate the next generation. • Adele Carson (BSc (Hons) PGCE, MMgmt) is a senior lecturer – Business Management Faculty at Toi-Ohomai Institute of Technology

Riparian planting can turn around water, vegetation and bird life at your site, but clear goals, based on a shared vision with neighbours are needed.

When embarking on a project communicate your vision with neighbouring farmers and lifestyle blockers.



Umbilical slurry spreading works MARK DANIEL


farmer Louis English and his wife Angela milk 850 cows on a 335ha family farm at Dipton West, Southland. They have employed an umbilical spreading operation on their farm to help. Having installed a wintering barn about six years ago and seeing an increase in effluent, they employed contractors to do umbilical spreading for the first two seasons, experiencing mixed results. At the time, they also ran an effluent tanker, but didn’t like the fact it would have taken around 500 trips to and from the paddocks to empty the effluent pond. “This would heavily damage the lanes and I didn’t want to see this happening,” said Louis. “We found it a lot easier to go into a paddock once, do the spreading and go back out, instead of going in and out multiple times with the tanker. The splash plate system on the tanker also resulted in heavy contamination of the sward, so there was a major delay before we could resume grazing.” They approached Webbline to look at

potential solutions. Louis says, “we did the numbers and worked out it was going to be more efficient and effective to use our own gear, and ended up purchasing an umbilical system with a 9m dribble bar and 1,600m of hose”. The system includes a Bauer pump powered by a 160hp tractor system that generally pumps around 200,000 litres per hour to the dribble bar that is handled by a 150hp tractor. At the heart of the spreading system, designed and manufactured by Mastek in Ireland, is the Supercut Macerator, a hydraulically driven cutting rotor that chops any fibrous material in the effluent. At its heart, six knives chop the material before it passes via 45mm diameter outlets to the dribble bar. Manufactured from heavy-duty galvanised steel, with a transport width of only 2.6m, the dribble bar assembly features outlets across the full spreading width, depositing effluent from a flexible pipe close to ground level. This eliminates odour, loss of nitrogen to the atmosphere and keeps sward contamination to a minimum. They note that it is easy to see the grass growth where they have been in with the dribble bar, compared to other

areas of grass. “It is a lot more straightforward to operate than it looks at the start; you just need a plan on how to get around obstacles and oddlyshaped paddocks,” says

Louis. “With the flow meter in the cab, you can pace yourself for optimum application with the schedule supplied by Webbline, which shows speed needed for the correct rate of application.”

Farmers Louis and Angela English, Dipton says umbilical spreading system is more straightforward to operate.


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Spreading muck with ease MARK DANIEL

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builder that calls on over 60 years of development, manufacturing and experience in the field of specialised spreaders. The VS and PS ranges offer strong, reliable and accurate spreading of a wide range of products, including lime, farmyard manure, separated effluent solids, slurry, compost and bedding materials. Large volumes can be spread efficiently, with models from 20m3 to 32m3 capacity, with a myriad of options available to suit individual requirements. Machines can be specified with a patented dynamic weighing and spreading control system that can be programmed to spread via preprepared application maps, ensuring accurate spreading density, while also offering proof of placement documentation to meet all existing and future legislation. Designed to work with the ISOBUS architecture, machines can be controlled via the tractor’s integral display, allowing users to work under precision agriculture formats. Recently introduced at Fieldays 2021, the new TS range takes the form

of a more typical bathtub design featuring a low centre of gravity, a 2.7 metre loading height and capacities of 14 or 16 cubic metres. The choice of twin vertical beaters or the universal spreader with two horizontal spreading discs sees the former utilising 880mm diameter rotors with 12mm thick milling times to shred material, and is fitted with a cam-clutch overload system. Fitted with a single axle, the layout allows for large diameter tyres, up to 710-70-R38, to provide less rolling resistance, making the unit easier to tow. Standard features also include twin 16mm diameter floor chains, each rated to 28 tonnes breaking strain, driven hydraulically to allow precise presentation of the loader to the beater mechanism. A narrow profile drawbar offers increased manoeuvrability, with the addition of spring suspension making for a smoother ride and increased operator comfort. @dairy_news

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Choosing the right pump CHOOSING THE

right pump for an effluent system is the key to ensuring a system works well and gives many years of reliable service. Rotorua-based Numedic’s latest addition to its extensive pump range is the HS series – a shore mounted, self-priming range of pumps, with the ability to handle raw effluent and solids up to 35mm in diameter. The HS pumps can deliver up to 8m lift on the suction side, while offering high pressure and flow rate performance, with the advantages of being a single stage, centrifugal pump with very low maintenance costs. The pumps are suitable

for motor capacities ranging from 7.5kW to 18.5kW. “HS series pumps are proving to be very popular, both for new shore mounted installations, and to replace existing pumps,” says director Marina Millar. “This is especially so in situations where there is no solids separation taking place, and farmers need a pump that can handle solids, alongside increased performance and extended durability. Our feedback is that farmers get more than expected in terms of performance with these pumps, and they can pump further afield without worrying too much about solid separation.”

Numedic has introduced the HS series – a shore mounted, selfpriming range of pumps.

Powerful pond stirring for maximum value.

HAVE YOUR SAY DAIRYNZ SAYS it will complete a submission on both the winter grazing and the freshwater farm plan consultations, providing firm feedback to Government. It is also supporting farmers to make submissions on both consultations. Consultation on the proposed intensive winter grazing amendments proposed by the Government is open until October 27. The Ministry for the Environment (MfE) says it has received feedback that aspects of the intensive winter grazing regulations may require modification to support effective implementation and achieve improved environmental outcomes. “This particularly relates to conditions that are weather-dependent or difficult to practically comply with. We are proposing changes to the conditions so the regulations can operate as they were intended to,” MfE says. DairyNZ says the potential deferral of wintering regulations to November 2022 will provide time for detail to be worked out and enables farmers to continue their plans for next season. While there has been a two-week extension in light of Covid-19 lockdown, DairyNZ remains very concerned about the broader pace and scale of regulatory change facing farmers and the schedule of reforms underway. “We want farmers and industry representatives to have time to provide robust feedback during the many government consultation processes underway, so regulations are practical behind the farm gate and achieve the desired outcomes. “We know regulatory change is having an impact on farmer wellbeing. The policies coming through government departments must be prioritised, phased and better managed as a collective.”

Two weeks after the last stir of the effluent pond a thick crust of solid material has formed.

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Effluent injection goes XL DUTCH EFFLUENT

specialist Vredo is testing 15 and 18-metre wide slurry injection rigs for the upcoming 2022 spreading season. Dubbed XL, the units will complete the Profi Series which had been developed to offer flexibility in areas such as work in tramlines, low application rates and areas requiring precision appli-

cation and control. The XL units will join existing models covering a range from 5.25 up to 12m working widths. Using the same mainframe, hydraulic system and twin 48-hole Vogelsang ExaCut ECQ distribution heads, the key difference is either five (15m) or seven (18m) injection sections. The oscillating design of the

sections is said to allow active ground contouring, while downward pressure is applied hydraulically to achieve penetration and consistent injection depth. The injection modules use either a double disc, or the newly released single-disc set up, both installed at 18.75cm spacing, with the single disc said to be particularly

Vredo is testing 15 and 18-metre wide slurry injection rigs, dubbed ‘XL’.

suited to injection into stubbles or cereal crops in the spring. As part of the package, both units are available with either a

hydraulic or pneumatic drip suppression system, that cuts the flow immediately when the applicator is switched off, therefore stopping any

pooling and potential scorching. Hydraulically equipped machines are able to offer section control, while the pneumatically equipped

injectors offer 20 or 24 sections spaced at 75cm on the 15 and 18m units respectively, with GPS/ ISOBUS controlling application.








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Profile for Rural News Group

Dairy News 14 September 2021  

Dairy News 14 September 2021

Dairy News 14 September 2021  

Dairy News 14 September 2021

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