Friday, 04 May 2018 14:55

Age not wearing this farmer

Written by  Peter Burke
Moyra Bramley is proud of the efforts of the Onuku Maori Lands Trust, which she chairs, has achieved in farming. Moyra Bramley is proud of the efforts of the Onuku Maori Lands Trust, which she chairs, has achieved in farming.

Moyra Bramley was born in 1933, the year Sir Apirana Ngata and Lord Bledisloe inaugurated the Ahuwhenua Trophy to recognise excellence in Maori farming — now Ms Bramley has at least a 50/50 chance of winning that trophy.

Bramley is in the running for her role as chairwoman of the Onuku Maori Lands Trust, one of two finalists in the competition. 

Onuku's entry in the competition is its 72ha Boundary Road dairy unit is near Lake Rotomahana, 30km south of Rotorua. It is one of four farms run by the trust. 

The 220 cows on Boundary Road produce 90,000kgMS. All the farms sit under the shadow of Mt Tarawera, which erupted violently on June 10 1886, killing many people and destroying a world-famous tourist – the Pink and White Terraces.

The mud and ash that spewed from Mt Tarawera is today commonly referred to as ‘mash’; it is very fertile and grows good grass all year. The landscape is picturesque with many trees sheltering animals.

The success of Onuku as a farming enterprise, including the Boundary Road farm, is due in no small part to Moyra Bramley who now chairs the trust. She has been a member of the trust since its inception in 1982 and has overseen many changes; in recent years she has seen farming move to a more corporate model having to deal with market volatility. But through all this the trust has prospered.

“We have been diligent on how we manage things. We do our due diligence on all aspects of what we are doing; we make sure we have the money and we make sure that anything we invest in has a return that is worthwhile. 

“If the numbers don’t stack up we don’t invest,” she says.

Bramley says the trustees are very careful about how they manage their business and always must look at the future. She says their land is not for sale; so, it must be producing forever so that it can be handed down to the next generation.

“For me, being in this trust for 30 years, I have fulfilled my obligation to the owners. I have turned it from a trust that was worth $2 million in 1982 to now when it is worth over $30m. So I think I have achieved that. If Onuku does win the Ahuwhenua Trophy it will be a culmination of all my time on this trust and I will die happy.” 

Bramley says she doesn’t think of the Ahuwhenua Trophy as a competition, rather as an acknowledgement of what they have done. She says whether you win or not it doesn’t matter, because the whole process of the competition gives you the incentive to excel.

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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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