Thursday, 17 September 2020 06:55

Lifeline for field day organisers

Written by  Mark Daniel
NZ National Fieldays Society is well on the way towards planning the 2021 physical event. NZ National Fieldays Society is well on the way towards planning the 2021 physical event.

Australia has introduced a support package for struggling field days organisations.

Following pleas from struggling Australian field days organisations dealing with cancellations brought about by Covid-19, the Australian Federal Government has responded with the introduction of an A$2.7 million support package.

The scheme allows each affected field day to apply for A$70,000, while the package also makes A$100,000 available to the Australasian Agricultural Field Days Association to hold a member conference in 2021 to assist with training and recovery planning. The AAFDA represents 21 field days associations with familiar names like Henty, AgQuip, FarmFest and our own NZ National Fieldays Society.

Sources within the association say the field days play a vital role in educating the community about the importance of agriculture, alongside making a valuable contribution to the social fabric and economy of rural and regional communities.

Here, the NZ National Fieldays Society, which was forced to cancel its annual June event and move to an online format, is still weathering the storm, like the rest of the events industry, with Alert Level 2 still restricting gatherings to no more than 100 people.On a positive note, the society has been successful in its application for support from the Government’s $10 million contestable Domestic Events Fund, with a maximum $200,000 pay out to be made soon.

Fieldays chief executive Peter Nation says they are extremely grateful for the government wage support received so far and for the award from the support fund.

“The truth is we really want a hand-up not a hand-out, so we are committed to ensuring that $100,000 of the award will be passed to our suppliers, because without the likes of marquee companies, audio visual specialists and caterers there will be no future for the events industry.

We are currently in a state of limbo, with a number of events planned before the end of the year, but Level 2 means we are unsure if they can proceed.”

Looking forwards, the society is well on the way towards planning the 2021 physical event, which will also be supported by an online presence.

In the South Island, the Canterbury A&P Association, which earlier this year cancelled this year’s New Zealand Agricultural Show, launched its own “Show Saver” campaign to help deal with the financial impact it was facing. Calling on members, competitors and the general public to lend a helping hand, the association raised $100,000, allowing it to meet its financial obligations, while putting a surplus toward organising the Spring 2021 event.

Event director Geoff Bone says they were overwhelmed by the support and encouragement we received from the campaign, which even saw Silverstream Charolais donate the proceeds from the sale of a bull to the cause.

“We are truly grateful to everyone who donated.”

The association also received additional funding via the Government’s Domestic Events Fund that will allow the core event team to remain on board to activate plans for next year’s show.

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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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