Tuesday, 03 November 2020 05:55

Red rag to a bull?

Written by  Peter Burke
Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard. Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard.

Will Labour alone be easier to deal with?

That is the question lobby groups, including Federated Farmers, are pondering following Labour’s landslide victory at the election.

Federated Farmers president Andrew Hoggard says, in terms of overall policy, he believes there will be little difference to what occurred during the past three years. He points to the fact that two major pieces of legislation relating to healthy waterway and Zero Carbon are both creating challenges for farmers.

“I guess it’s going to come in terms of the healthy waterways as to how that is implemented and what further changes are made,” Hoggard told Rural News

“Hopefully, we might see it modified to be a little bit more practical and a little less paint by numbers, from a national perspective, and allow for some regional flexibility catchment by catchment.”

Hoggard says David Parker, who is responsible for the healthy waterways bill, is not on the Christmas card list of many farmers. He says it’s hard to say if Parker were replaced as Minister for Environment whether the legislation would change much.

“But if he was removed from the portfolio it could certainly change farmers’ perceptions.” 

Hoggard says having to deal with just one party will be easier for Feds. He says, in the past, it’s been noticeable that every small party had its own internal games and different angles on a subject and getting support was at times difficult and frustrating.

“Around climate change, for example, NZ First gave us a nod and wink that they would push forward an idea of ours. So, we took it up with Labour and Greens and they said yes – and so did National. But then NZ First said no because they wouldn’t have anything to do with National. It was very annoying.” 

A much talked about issue is whether farmers, many of whom traditionally support National, actually voted Labour to keep the Greens out of any coalition. Hoggard says he has yet to meet a long time National voter who claims to have done this, but he’s sure there is some truth in the story.

“You can see the strategy behind that, given the Green’s plans for agriculture were a helluva lot more extreme than all the other parties had proposed.” 

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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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