Atiamuri dairy farmers Hayden and Narelle Hilhorst recently took part in DairyNZ’s Farm Capability Assessment Programme. Piloted in 2017 and now moving into Stage Two, the programme encourages farmers to take a fresh look at their capability onfarm, supporting them to identify learning opportunities aimed at their business goals. It’s about finding the ‘right’ training for them, including formal, short courses, workshops or peer-to-peer learning.
Making the vague specific
The Hilhorsts’ DairyNZ consulting officer (CO) Colin Grainger-Allen has been alongside the couple as part of the programme, initially working through the Farm Gauge questionnaire to reveal any strengths, weaknesses and capability gaps. “For us it was important to look at the business and see where we needed to improve,” says Hayden. “Colin encouraged us to give it a go. It identified the areas that need development in our business. We were already aware of these but it highlighted the need for training.”
Information into action
Colin then worked with the Hilhorsts to develop a learning ‘action plan’ to identify, find (and encourage them to sign up for) the right learning they and their staff needed. As well as following this plan, the couple aims to put more emphasis on their future overall planning and their financial focus.
As part of that, “we’ll look at the business itself to see where we can cut costs and refine things,” adds Hayden. They also want to put more time and thought into the personnel aspect of the business, including their staff’s training and goals.
“We enjoyed the whole process; it was beneficial. It definitely shone a light on our weak points,” says Hayden. “Farm Gauge was easy to use but having Colin taking us through it was great too. We got great feedback from him.” Narelle adds that their learning plan’s actions will also help to keep them accountable in the months ahead.
Gauge the opportunity
The two-to-three-hour Farm Gauge session will help you assess your business, identify learning opportunities and set you up to create a learning action plan to achieve your goals. It’s a chance for you to gauge where you’re at and bounce ideas off another person, who can point you in the right direction for more support if needed as you develop your plan.
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy March 2019