Thursday, 09 July 2020 11:51

SFOTY in hot water over social media posts

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
Nick Bertram. Nick Bertram.

Organisers of the NZ Dairy Industry Awards are investigating unsavoury social media comments allegedly made by the newly crowned 2020 Share Farmer of the Year, Nick Bertram.

In a statement the NZDIA Trust chair Natasha Tere says they have been made aware of “historical comments” made by Bertram.

Animal welfare group SAFE issued a statement highlighting “profanity-laden” tweets from Bertram’s twitter account. One described the cruel and illegal methods he uses to handle his cows, which he called ‘bitches.’

SAFE chief executive Debra Ashton said Bertram sets the bar very low for industry excellence.

Source: SAFE screenshot.

"Bertram’s attitude towards animals is disrespectful, and the proof is in his tweets," says Ashton. "The lack of scrutiny calls into question the merit of title."

Ashton called on NZDIA to strip Bertram of his award.

"If this farmer is the best of the best, the reputation of the dairy industry and New Zealand are in serious trouble."

Source: SAFE screenshot.

Tere says NZDIA follows a robust and thorough judging process based on what is happening on-farm today. 

“Entrants are judged on information presented and on the farming practices the person follows currently,” she says. 

“Judges do not look for and are not aware of historical social media comments. 

Source: SAFE screenshot.

“NZDIA are proud of our more than 30 year history of helping New Zealand dairy farmers learn, connect and grow through our Awards programme. 

‘The programme allows entrants to understand best practice, benchmark and improve their own farming practices,” Tere says.

Source: SAFE screenshot.

Bertram is a 50/50 sharemilker on a 440-cow Woodville property.  He won the 2014 New Zealand Dairy Manager of the Year and was runner-up in the Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa Share Farmer category last year. 

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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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