Tuesday, 29 October 2019 10:40

At last a deal on climate change — Editorial

Written by  Staff Reporters
Finally, farmers and the government are working together. Finally, farmers and the government are working together.

OPINION: Primary sector bosses and Government ministers waxed lyrical at a news conference at Parliament on the new deal on agricultural emissions.

It seems the Government has taken farmers’ word that they can cut farm emissions in a way better than the very prescriptive approach the Government was proposing a few months ago.

The news conference heard farming’s two representatives say they were “very proud” to be associated with the agreement and to feel listened to by the Government. They were seeking practical, effective outcomes and believe that the deal will achieve this.

They said farming will work with the Government to design a pricing mechanism whereby any price is part of a broader framework to incentivise the uptake of economically viable opportunities which contribute to lower global emissions. 

Both sides are describing this as a win-win deal, and in fairness it was probably the best that both sides could have hoped for. It’s likely that some farmers will be unhappy and that some ‘green’ elements of the Government may feel aggrieved and claim that farmers are being treated as a special case.

Already Greenpeace is labelling the deal “a sellout”, accusing the Government of buckling to lobbying pressure from the dairy industry and big agribusiness.

For its part, Federated Farmers is happy to be working with the Government via ‘He Waka Eke Noa’ commitment but it continues to oppose agriculture entering the ETS.

Its position remains that He Waka Eke Noa is clear that the ETS has not worked to reduce emissions and will not work for agriculture.

The question that remains is whether this new Bill and proposed solutions will take some pressure off farmers and give them certainty. 

One could say it may help, but there are still lots of other issues to be resolved on the environmental front, notably water and farmers’ about land use change.

Much is said about helping farmers deal with climate change and the challenge will be how to get the message out to the wider farming sector.  A lot of this will likely fall on industry good organisations such as DairyNZ. 

At this stage it looks hopeful as most parties go forward with goodwill.

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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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