Monday, 13 July 2015 10:26

Survey shows $1billion environment investment

Written by 
Riparian planting Taranaki. Riparian planting Taranaki.

A survey conducted by Federated Farmers and DairyNZ reveals that New Zealand dairy farmers have spent over $1Billion on environment in the past five years.

Five percent of the nation’s dairy farmers responded to the survey. The environmental investments included initiatives such as effluent management, stock exclusion, riparian planting, upgrading systems and investing in technology, retiring land and developing wetlands.

“It is encouraging to see the significant investments farmers are putting into protecting and improving the environment,” says Andrew Hoggard, Federated Farmers dairy chair.

“Farmers understand the need to get the balance right when it comes to lifting production and profits along with environmental responsibilities. The survey reflects this commitment with an average spend per farm of $18,000 a year. That’s equivalent to $90,000 per farm in New Zealand over the past five years.”

DairyNZ chief executive Tim Mackle says, “This is just the start of our industry trying to understand and quantify how much farmers are investing in environmental actions. We are also collating actions from our Sustainable Milk Plan projects to keep a record of what farmers are doing around the country and the difference their investments are making. This is the first time we’ve done this kind of survey and it gives us a broad brush indication of what is being done on the ground, based on what the more than 500 farmers who responded have told us.”

“The survey attracted a particularly good response rate from Marlborough-Canterbury dairy farmers of 7.7%. That region’s farmers had spent an average of over $170,000 per farm in in the past five years. Otago-Southland dairy farmers were not far behind with 6.5% responding, and having spent on average over $150,000 per farm.”

“It’s clear there is a significant commitment from New Zealand dairy farmers to farming responsibly and investing in actions that make a difference to managing their farms’ environmental impact.”

Hoggard says there are no surprises in the survey results. “The main investment is going into effluent management, but it was interesting to see that it was approximately 70% of farmer’s total expenditure,” he says.

“The survey was also open for farmers to tell us exactly what they’ve been up to, and they’ve been doing a hell of a lot! Respondents have spent over $8 million in the past five years retiring land and developing or preserving wetlands."

“It is mind blowing to think that the collective investment of over $1billion by dairy farmers on the environment has just been for over the past five years. This is money coming directly out farmer’s bank accounts some of it voluntary and some of it necessary all the same it is significant and shows the level of accountability that is happening in the dairy industry.”

“This survey has opened up a window for the New Zealand public to see just what farmers are doing to protect and enhance their land. We knew the investment and work was happening but it’s great to see it on paper.”

 “I’d like to thank the farmers who responded to our survey and congratulate them for everything they’re doing to leave their land in a better state for the next generation,” concludes Hoggard.

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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.

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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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