Tuesday, 28 July 2020 08:25

Bovis nearly beaten

Written by  Peter Burke
Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor claims there are currently only four active cases of M bovis in NZ – down from the 250 properties that were affected at its peak. Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor claims there are currently only four active cases of M bovis in NZ – down from the 250 properties that were affected at its peak.

New Zealand appears to have Mycoplasma bovis under control.

Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor claims the disease, which was first detected in NZ three years ago, has just four active cases – down from the 250 properties that were affected by M. bovis at its peak.

“Key to the success have been our programme partners DairyNZ and Beef+Lamb New Zealand. They were part of the bold decision to attempt to eradicate this disease and have been part of our efforts since the very beginning,” he says.

“It was estimated that allowing the disease to spread could cause $1.3 billion in economic losses in the first 10 years alone, along with substantial animal welfare issues and serious ongoing challenges for farmers having to manage the disease within their herds.” 

O’Connor believes one key measure of the success of the 10-year eradication plan is the Estimated Dissemination Rate (EDR). He says if the EDR is greater than one, then the disease is growing, but if it’s below one, the disease is shrinking.

“The EDR is now at 0.4, which is down from over 2 at the start of the outbreak, so we are looking harder to find fewer infected animals.” 

O’Connor says NZ has been able to do what other countries have not in terms of disease eradication efforts. 

“That’s something our farming community should be really proud of.” 

He says allowing the disease to spread would have caused lost productivity in our cattle sector and affected the whole economy.  

O’Connor concedes the eradication effort has not been without substantial challenges and the impact on affected farmers shouldn’t be under-estimated.

“Farmers deserve a lot of credit for their efforts. We are continuing to improve processes and work hard to support their wellbeing and recovery, including getting their compensation claims paid as quickly as possible. 

“There is still work to be done, and there will be more infected farms to find – but we’re well and truly on track to do what no other country in the world has done and eradicate this disease.” 

O’Connor says the next 12 months is about ensuring that all infected herds are found. 

“This will involve ongoing Bulk Tank Milk Surveillance, nation-wide beef surveillance, and on-farm testing of herds that could possibly have been exposed, to ensure that they are not infected.”

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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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