- New Zealand Dairy Industry Awards chair
- Otorohanga dairy farmer/farm owner with wife Susie
- Four-time NZDIA entrants: second in the 2016 NZDIA Share Farmer of the Year category (as regional winners, Canterbury/North Otago)
Having done a DairyNZ Progression in Dairying course (now the Biz Start/Biz Grow programmes), we could see the awards were a good way for us to get feedback on our performance. During multiple judging rounds, we always took something away to help hone our business or ourselves.
DairyNZ’s extensive involvement in the awards as a sector partner is strongly acknowledged, as is the great support and advice its consulting officers (COs) provide. Whether it’s support for the regional committees running the programmes, or for entrants wanting to understand what best practice looks like, DairyNZ’s COs are always helpful and take a big role in delivering.
The awards allow those in the sector to learn new ways to improve through feedback. They also push people to come up with new industry-leading ideas, with DairyNZ acting like an incubator for some of these.
The ability for the awards to showcase leading farmers, and having those farmers use DairyNZ resources, really shows the synergy between the two organisations. The Awards’ relationships with the wider sector also ensures our entrants are being judged and given feedback in alignment with our industry’s best practice. The ‘learn, connect, grow’ byline of the awards speaks to this.
- Vet and animal wellbeing lead – strategy and performance
- Theland Purata Farm Group
- Darfield, Central Canterbury
The DairyNZ information and recommendations I provide to our farmers are backed up by sound science. Their research allows me to target areas that will provide the biggest wins for our cows and people, with recommendations that have been proven to work.
Following DairyNZ’s recommendations – whether by reading about them or hearing about them from rural professionals like me – puts dairy farmers at the forefront of best practice, making a real and satisfying difference to their businesses.
Without DairyNZ’s resources, there’d be no direction and cohesiveness in the industry, with consultants saying different things and farmers not knowing who to listen to. For example, if it wasn’t for the DairyNZ body condition scoring accreditation, I’d still be standing in the paddock with another consultant arguing about what a ‘condition score four’ cow looked like!
Every day, I’m using resources and research findings from DairyNZ to train people, look for opportunities to improve, and to provide strategic direction for the business. The world is evolving and we need to evolve with it. We need tools and resources that enable us to farm well in the 21st Century – and DairyNZ provides those.
- Monitor farmer in the DairyNZ-led Forages for Reduced Nitrate Leaching (FRNL) programme
- Farm manager in St Andrews, Canterbury
The FRNL research programme has provided valuable research to help us reduce dairy’s environmental footprint. It’s given farmers some simple, practical solutions to reduce nitrogen leaching from the land we manage. It’s also provided information to help Canterbury farmers optimise their systems and reduce cost and environmental impact.
As a result of the research, we’ve been planting plantain in all re-grassed paddocks. We’ve reduced our stocking rate from 4.2 to 3.7, reduced imported supplements by approximately 50 percent, reduced costs, and maintained milk production. The effects have been positive: environmentally, financially, and also from an animal health/performance perspective.
When all the benefits of a mixed sward are recognised in Overseer, it will help farmers meet nutrient criteria. Reducing cow numbers and imported supplements also have a significant effect.
As more pressure comes onto farmers to reduce perceived environmental impacts, levy-funded scientific research can be used to find new tools or methods to offset or reduce these. Individual farmers are unlikely to, and generally not in a position to, fund this research themselves. As long as the research is keeping up with or ahead of industry practices and standards, it’s a great tool for any sector.
- Nuffield Farming Scholarship recipient (2017)
- Major shareholder with wife Tina in a farm equity partnership, Fairlie, South Canterbury
Nuffield farming scholarships focus on the international perspective – where New Zealand fits in the global agri-food sector and what’s driving things. Through my scholarship travels and research, I've learned New Zealand is very well placed to produce food to meet consumer awareness and demands. Our milk is a fantastic product with great nutritional value and many diverse applications.
However, ensuring an ongoing demand for our milk means getting things right both inside and beyond the farm gate – and that takes quality leadership. Our sector needs to foster leaders and give them the tools to succeed, and grassroots farmers are the best people to navigate through the issues ahead.
That’s why money invested by sector organisations like DairyNZ to build that capability is well spent. Through Rural Leaders, the Nuffield and Kellogg programmes are providing a pipeline of potential leaders armed with knowledge and skills in the rural community. DairyNZ’s support is a big part of that.
On a more personal note, my Nuffield scholarship also gave me the confidence to get in front of audiences and share what I saw, and who I talked to helped me with my critical thinking and prompted me to go for some governance roles.
- Dairy Women’s Network member
- Farmer/farm owner with husband Lyall in Drummond, Invercargill
Going to DairyNZ levy-sponsored events has resulted in significant gains for our business. Among other things, these events have helped to keep me on top of changes to law and dairy operations, provided training and support, and given me the knowledge to improve things like human resources systems with better contracts and rosters. As a result, our team is more involved and more driven to achieve seasonal goals.
A Business by the Numbers short course, run by Dairy Training Limited (DTL, a DairyNZ entity), enabled me to understand financial information and was a starting platform to show Dairy Women’s Network members how to make and track a budget and how to use that information to grow their businesses. I left the two-day course feeling that I could really make positive changes for our business. Through the support of DairyNZ and other partners, these events provide a framework to help teams grow and develop.
The amazing resources on DairyNZ’s website and the DairyNZ publications empower Dairy Women’s Network members to carry on learning, and this ultimately benefits our sector.
- Ag Proud chairman
- Farm owner with wife Birgit, in Brydone, Southland
Ag Proud was formed last winter when environmental activists started campaigning about winter grazing practices in Southland. Me and fellow farmers, Jason Herrick, John Douglas and Jason Checketts, decided to form a group to keep an eye on the activists and give the rural sector an opportunity to have a proud voice and engage with our urban neighbours.
We’re a volunteer organisation and support from DairyNZ and Beef + Lamb New Zealand has enabled us to fund an admin person, who’s taken a lot of pressure off each of us. As a result of that support, we’ve been able to reach a wider group around the region by hosting barbeques in urban areas where farmers mix with the locals who can ask questions about farming. Hearing a genuine message from the grassroots has gone down well with our urban cousins.
I know that DairyNZ and other industry bodies don’t always get it right but, from a farmer’s perspective, the work DairyNZ does, especially on the Essential Freshwater package, has helped us to get our heads around it. The supporting science and depth of engagement with the Government showed good leadership. As a levy-paying farmer, that’s been a highlight for me.
- Partner in the DairyNZ Selwyn and Hinds Project
- Equity partner and dairy farm manager with wife Demelza, Canterbury
Being involved in the DairyNZ Selwyn and Hinds Project is helping us to reduce nitrogen losses on-farm in line with the requirements of the Canterbury Land & Water Regional Plan, while maintaining our profit levels.
DairyNZ has done a good job of facilitating the project meetings and supplying the experts. It’s good to be exposed to cuttingedge science, to hear about it in advance, and to brainstorm ideas with other farmers. Being part of the project has enabled us to understand the ‘why’. I wouldn’t miss a meeting.
We’ve always wanted to do the right thing but didn’t really have enough knowledge to understand where best to direct our efforts. We joined the Selwyn and Hinds Project in 2018 and it’s helped us to focus and given us practical ways to implement the science.
We’ve identified that, when grass isn’t growing much in autumn, nitrogen from urine patches is more at risk of leaching, so it makes sense to stop applying fertiliser at that time of year and reduce our stocking rate. Overall, we’ve reduced our synthetic nitrogen application by about 30 percent, and it hasn’t had a major effect on production. We’ve also made changes to the irrigation system to make it more efficient.
One of the really good things about being part of this programme is that the scientific experts have given us the ‘know how’ to help us make changes on-farm.
This article was originally published in Inside Dairy April 2020