Friday, 10 July 2020 17:31

2020 SFOTY loses title, refused to hand over voluntarily

Written by  Staff Reporters
Nick Bertram. Nick Bertram.

The 2020 NZ Share Farmer of the Year Nick Bertram has been stripped of his title.

The NZ Dairy Industry Awards Trust says the decision follows revelations of “unacceptable social media comments” posted by Bertram prior to the awards. Bertram’s twitter comments from 2017 were revealed by animal rights group SAFE. 

Bertram apologised for his comments on the same day they were made public.

In a statement, Bertram says the NZDIA decision has come as a complete shock.

He refused to hand over the title voluntarily.

“As you may have heard we have become subjects of ‘cancel culture’ in New Zealand.

“After refusing to hand our title in voluntarily, following consultation with our support networks, we decided to not give SAFE the win.

“We have worked really hard and spent many hours working on our presentation. We have also given four years of our time on the regional dairy industry awards committee after winning nationals in 2014 (Dairy Manager of the Year title). 

“It came as a complete shock that the NZ Dairy Industry Awards have stripped us of our title.”

The NZDIA Trust says it will undertake an independent review of its procedures, processes and entry criteria.

It acknowledges Bertram subsequently apologised and deleted the comments and that some people within the industry were aware of those comments prior to the awards being announced last Saturday.

“Animal welfare is of paramount importance to the industry and the Trust is committed to offering a 2021 Awards programme that will showcase best practice and allow entrants to benchmark and improve their own farming practices. It is also committed to farmer welfare and will ensure Mr and Mrs Bertram are supported during this difficult time,” NZDIA says.

Bertram claims the current members of the National NZDIA committee/trust were also aware of these tweets leading into the current awards programs.

“When we questioned them why did they allow us to enter….their response was they didn’t know we were going to win.

“The current national committee/trust have used the excuse that the sponsors are putting them under pressure to strip our title. However, we have approached the sponsors in question and this is not the case.

“The National Dairy Industry Awards committee/trustees were aware of the tweet in question three years ago. They had a meeting and following this meeting I was told to pull my head in, and in future watch my tweets and my language.

“Soon after that I took a year off twitter to focus on the family. During this time, I did social media training. I have had no issues on social media since.”

Bertram has also resigned as Federated Farmers sharemilkers section vice chair.

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Lely offerings for the future

Dutch robotic specialist Lely launched a new farm management application called Horizon at its recent Future Farm Days 2020.

Designed to connect data from a range of on-farm equipment and suppliers into one management system, it creates a real-time decision-support platform, to make the farmer’s life easier, the herd healthier and the farm more profitable, says Lely.

Developed over a 24-month period, with over 100 test farmers in seven countries, working with 75 engineers, designers, farm management advisors, veterinarians and AI specialists, the new application will eventually replace the current Lely T4C management system. It uses smart algorithms and the cloud to deliver data that is processed into actionable information that is always accessible on any device in a user-friendly way.

Lely claims the Horizon application unburdens farmers from routine decision making and helps them optimise their workloads, using integrated routines based on easily scheduled cow ‘touches’, create logical and more efficient workflows. It is also possible to assign a certain task to an employee and to schedule a time slot for the cow touch, rather than analysing different reports and filtering long lists.

Horizon is also able to connect and combine data from non-Lely sources into a complete solution for the farmer removing the need to enter the same data twice, while scrutinising individual data streams in different applications will no longer be necessary. Currently, connections with farming applications such as Dairy Comp, Uniform-Agri, CRV and Herde already enable farmers to synchronise information about calving and inseminations between applications. Lely’s ambition is to connect with more partners over time, to hand the farmer more smart data.

To ensure full support in the migration to Lely Horizon, existing Lely T4C customers will be personally informed by their Lely Center before the end of 2020.

The migration is planned in a phased approach, from country to country, over the year 2021.

Also launched at the event, Lely Exos is an autonomous concept for harvesting and feeding fresh grass to the herd.

The company suggests that feeding fresh grass makes better use of available roughage, suggesting “fresh” has between 10 and 20% more nutritional value than grass silage, as there are minimal losses typically seen during mowing, tedding, raking, harvesting and feeding.

Lely suggests that feeding fresh grass over an extended season reduces the amount of silage that has to be conserved, reduces the need for concentrates and bought-in feed and increase the margin made on each litre of milk produced.

Based around an all-electric vehicle that mows and feeds, Exos is light weight and uses soil friendly technology, that can be exploited throughout the growing season. Design to work 24/7 as feed requirements change, the system places no constraints on labour or time, while it is also designed to work in tandem with the Lely Vector automatic feeding systems.

In operation, Exos also collects field data as it goes about its job, giving framers live data on grass supply and lending itself to a further concept of delivering a targeted liquid fertiliser as it passes over a harvested area.

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