Saturday, 27 February 2016 12:55

No longer a sideline player - Editorial

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
The resilience of Maori agribusiness is back in with the announcement of the finalists in this year's Ahuwhenua trophy competition to find NZ's top Maori dairy farm. The resilience of Maori agribusiness is back in with the announcement of the finalists in this year's Ahuwhenua trophy competition to find NZ's top Maori dairy farm.

The resilience of Maori agribusiness is back in with the announcement of the finalists in this year's Ahuwhenua trophy competition to find NZ's top Maori dairy farm.

The competition was inaugurated 83 years ago and the fact that every year top Maori farms step up shows clearly the determination and desire in Maoridom to showcase their success and build capability.

During this bad patch for the dairy sector it is interesting to see excellent Maori farms unafraid to put themselves forward and show what they are doing well.

They are displaying great leadership to the whole dairy sector and demonstrating that this is not a time to retreat and hunker down; rather it's a time to showcase the Maori agribusiness model – a long term vision of providing benefits for future, not just the present, generation. Maori have a history of managing adversity and coming back stronger and better.

Not widely known is that entering the contest and making the finals requires a lot of time to provide complex data to two judging panels and run a large field day. The farms are required not only to prove they are financially successful but also that they are leaders in the kaitiakitanga (guardianship of the land) and their whanau.

Few NZer's have much idea about farming, and even fewer have any idea of the scale and efficiency of many Maori farms. Maybe that's because they are tucked away in heartland NZ and not on SH1, or perhaps people just don't believe Maori are capable of success.

This year the Ahuwhenua competition has two finalists from the South Island – Ngai Tahu and Rakaia. This is perhaps a further sign that Maori are starting to rise their profile, showing just how big and good is their vision and ability.

Maori agribusiness, including forestry contributes $3.5 billion to the New Zealand economy. Maori agribusiness is doing extremely well and Miraka Dairy Company won the Maori Excellence in Export Award at the 2015 New Zealand International Business Awards.

The Awuwhenua Trophy competition is hugely important not only for Maori but also for the primary sector as whole.

If they don't celebrate success in the primary sector, no one else is going to do it for them.

Maori agribusiness is no longer an adjunct to the NZ economy; it is now an integral part of it and over time its contribution will grow to new heights – not just in dairying, but in all primary production.

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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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