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Southlander wins Lincoln Farmer of Year title

NEWS FROM LINCOLN UNIVERSITY
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Southlander wins Lincoln Farmer of Year title

Blackdale Stud partner Leon Black and wife Wendy of Ermedale, near Riverton, have won the 2001 Lincoln University Foundation/Rabobank Farmer of the Year title from a field of six finalists who made their public presentations at Lincoln University today. (6 Nov.)

Black wins a $7500 travel award and was followed in second place by Herstall and Alyson Ulrich of The Rock Farm, Cave, South Canterbury, with Bruce and Shirley Turner of Far Out Tomatoes Ltd, Allandale, Lyttelton Harbour, in third place. The runners-up receive awards of $3000 and $2000 respectively.

The specialist category for this year’s competition, the 19th annual one in the Lincoln University Foundation series, was the application of technology to farming.

Winner Leon Black, a Lincoln University graduate, is in partnership at Blackdale Stud with his parents Peter and Marion. The 301-hectare all-sheep property operates to improve stock genetics for the customers benefit. The main breeds used are Coopworth and Texel.

The stud has over 200 clients, mostly from Canterbury south, but also in the North Island, 600-700 ram and ram hoggets go to a variety of locations.

“We aim to make gains for our clients by improving the performance levels of the flock for example in fertility, growth rate, conformation and wool weight,” says Leon.

He said it was the stud’s aim to produce stock which reduced costs, labour and management.

“For example, high cost drench capsules are not used at all as we want animals with resilience or tolerance to worms which will perform on a grass fed minimal drench regime.

“Selection for mothering ability is another example, ewes that lamb easily, bond, mother and milk well are critical to the health and wealth of the sheep industry. Inbred mothering instinct is a major management benefit and labour saver at lambing time and ultimately it leads to weaning a lamb of significantly higher.”

The technologies employed in Blackdale Stud’s operation are “such a part of the normal farming operation that you wonder what you did before them”

The stud uses pregnancy scanning which allows dries to be culled, and single, twin, triplet and quad carrying ewes to be identified.

“This allows us to feed these animals to their actual requirements and to lamb in paddocks with better feed and shelter for multiples,” says Leon.

“The result of this technology has been improved lamb birth weight and survival, better weaning weights and ewe condition.

“Our lamb losses are about 8-9 percent of our lamb crop which is on the low side of Southland’s 25-26 percent average loss.

“Also ultra sound scanning for eye muscle and fat has been very successful in getting more red meat and less fat onto the carcass of our animals.”

Second prize winners Herstall and Alyson Ulrich operate a property farmed by Herstall’s family for three generations. It covers 589 hectares in two blocks. Technologies employed include irrigation to overcome drought susceptibility, scanning to enable them to identify singles, twins and triplets among their lamb-carrying ewes and the Bull Beef Technosystem. They also use electronic pasture probes to monitor pasture cover on a regular basis in order to build up a database for future management use, conservation tillage, and computers for physical and financial data processing and management.

Like winner Leon Black, Herstall is also a Lincoln University graduate.

Third prize winners Bruce and Shirley Turner of Allandale, Lyttelton Harbour, Canterbury, produce glasshouse tomatoes on a 5-hecatre property. The technological tools they use include an environment computer to control the climate in the glasshouses, an irrigation computer and a carbon dioxide injection device to boost CO2 levels in the atmosphere of the glasshouses. They also use bumblebees for pollination and beneficial insects for pest control. In addition they utilise their home pc for accounts, production and yield statistics.

Lincoln University’s Professor of Farm Management and Agribusiness, Keith Woodford, who chaired today’s event, said the presentations by the six finalists “showed perfectly” how, through the use of technology, agriculture fitted into the knowledge economy.

End

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