Three high-tech horticultural robots made their appearance at this year's National Fieldays at Mystery Creek.
Like many dairy farmers they strive to balance profitability, while also investing in protecting their environment. “Farming can be hard, and we carry a lot of debt, and because we haven’t got anything to fall back on, I think it makes it even more important we look for efficiencies and eliminate waste,” Richard explains. “Here, we take the approach of making small changes because they add up collectively. We want to genuinely enjoy what we do every day and a healthy environment contributes to that.”
The Ridds follow key themes when it comes to improving their environment, such as fencing waterways, riparian planting and developing wetlands, but they also believe in a strong connection with the community. “We need to help people understand the challenges we face and changing their mindset can really help drive purchasing behaviour,” Richard says.
“The value in the conversations from each side has really helped us and our urban neighbours understand each other more,” he explains.
They had already implemented many technologies on-farm, such as TracMap for fertiliser spreading, Ravensdown’s N-Protect, and bagging silage wrap ready for recycling.
While their infrastructure limits the size of their herd, the smaller numbers allows home-reared young stock on, alongside the opportunity to grow their own supplements. This means there is a need for up-to-date tractors and machinery, so it’s not surprising that a recent tractor upgrade also factored the environment in the buying decision.
“It’s a big investment buying a tractor, so we wanted to be sure we were making a good investment for our environment as well,” Wendy says.
“Being able to reduce the hours we spent on the tractor was high on our list of considerations, so we were attracted to the Massey Ferguson 6713 S because it would allow us to do multiple tasks in one pass, saving time and the environment. Even though it’s only a four-cylinder, it has pulling and lifting power comparable to a six-cylinder, offering the advantages of compactness, low-weight and good manoeuvrability, added to that extra power. Additionally, the power boost function means its efficient on lighter and bigger jobs, allowing us to only need one tractor so,” she says.
“The low weight was another bonus on our environmental shopping list,” Richard says. “Less weight means less soil compaction and a smaller environmental footprint during manufacturing as it needs less materials to build it. AdBlue also scored highly, by using the latest technology to reduce emissions was really important to us when we were shopping,” Richard says. “But most importantly we believe that farmers need to be proud of what they’re already doing, so while planting seems to get all the limelight, there’s more to helping the environment, which many farmers are already doing on a day to day basis.”