Monday, 11 February 2019 12:08

RWNZ boss to chair Landcare

Written by  Pam Tipa
Fiona Gower. Fiona Gower.

The NZ Landcare Trust will have a strong role to play with the increasing national focus on farm environmental issues, says the trust’s new chair, Fiona Gower.

Gower, who is also Rural Women New Zealand’s (RWNZ) national president and its environmental spokesperson, says chairing Landcare will be an exciting challenge.

“It ties in with a lot of what I do which is on environment and community; they are my passions,” she told Rural News.

“Environmental awareness and sustainability are key words at present. There is a great place for the Landcare Trust to get NZers together to work collaboratively; many of their activities are farming projects. We can show that farmers are environmentalists, that we care about where we live and what we do, and we can show the projects we can help with.

“The trust can work as a conduit to all those people getting together collaboratively and give them support and knowledge and get them what they need; and support them through the process of getting more healthy rivers or catchments.

“If we build a healthy catchment in small patches it is going to make it better in the big picture with the large catchments.

“Because there is such a big focus on the environment there is a role for us to play in connecting the dots between central and local government and community groups.

“Our team out working in the field are amazing; they do a great job.”

Gower became involved in Landcare Trust three years ago when she became the environment spokesperson for RWNZ.

RWNZ national chair Penny Mudford says Gower is well suited for the role of chair of NZ Landcare Trust. 

“She has been RWNZ’s representative on the trust since 2016, has a deep understanding of farming and is passionate about sustainable land use and improving water quality,” says Mudford.

“RWNZ works to build and support rural leaders and provide opportunities for leadership development and growth. Fiona’s experience as RWNZ national president, board member and a former coordinator of the rural environment portfolio provides a great foundation for her new role at NZ Landcare Trust.”

Gower was elected unanimously as trust chair late last year, after long-time chair Richard Thompson retired after being with the trust since its inception in 1996.

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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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