Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search

 

Informed, proactive decisions during drought will pay off


MEDIA RELEASE

For Immediate Release

13 June 2013


Informed, proactive decision making during drought will pay off


Cutting cattle numbers by a total of 59 percent and sheep by 30 percent by March during this season’s big dry may seem brutal, but it was a proactive decision based on sound figures, which has given Paul Dearden confidence heading into winter and lambing.

The Waipukurau sheep and beef farmer says regularly monitoring the situation and making timely decisions based on accurate figures was crucial in trying to minimise the cost of the drought to his farming business.

“Like others in drought regions, our challenge was to identify when to de-stock and by how many in order to preserve the health of our animals and look after the pasture we did have. More recently, we needed to get the timing of our Urea application right and make the most of the good rainfall.

Paul farms on 770 effective hectares. Pasture growth dropped by a third from October to December 2012, before slowing to 50 per cent between February and April 2013. At its lowest, in March, pasture cover was only 1360 kgDM/ha, well below Paul’s target in March of 2000 kgDM/ha.

“We ran scenarios and designed a feed budget with stock numbers we could manage based on our minimum pasture cover. For example, if we had bought 100 bulls in April we would have run out of grass by September. But we could manage 50. We’re now in a position to buy some more.

“We also sold a fair few store lambs early and weaned earlier. Because we de-stocked early we’re confident our ewes didn’t lose too much condition and they will be in good shape come spring.”

Paul’s pasture covers are starting to bounce back and are currently sitting at 1680 kgDM/ha. With a minimum cover of 1500 required for the spring and the use of Nitrogen, Paul is confident of a good lambing. Cattle numbers are still down, but only by 50 to 100 head.

One of the tools Paul found invaluable during the drought was Farmax, which he has been using for the last three years. He also acknowledges the help and support of his farm consultant, Ben Harker from AgFirst Hawkes Bay.

Using proven science and information originally developed by AgResearch, Farmax is a decision support tool that allows pastoral farmers to plan, monitor and forecast their productivity, profitability and performance, so decisions are made based on what is really happening on-farm. It was commercially launched in 2003.

Farmax Technical Specialist Steven Howarth says throughout the drought he has seen a lot more action with both farm consultants and farmers making regular updates - weekly as the situation evolved.

“Looking at the files coming through it was clear that our farmer clients were being proactive and making early decisions to maintain a feasible plan,” he says. “We also noticed a lot of analysis by consultants weighing up the most cost effective options when the hard decisions needed to be made.”

Steven believes most farmers using Farmax have a realistic plan in place for the winter. But he cautions that pasture cover will get tight early spring before reaching balance date - then it will really take off.

“It is imperative farmers have a clear plan for the winter. Media reports described the drought as the most severe in about 70 years so chances are a lot of us were in uncharted territory. Setting up winter stock numbers and feed reserves is critical and needs to be done now.”

Steven also encourages farmers to have a plan in place for how to manage pasture growth post balance date this spring.

“The farmers I have spoken to believe the store market will be running hot next spring as stock will be in high demand and short supply. This will push up prices and careful decisions will need to be made on how to manage feed and whether purchasing stock on the grass market will be profitable.”

-ends-

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

What Lies Beneath: Is The Housing Market Turning?
Rising interest rates, combined with further tightening of credit availability appear to be dampening the enthusiasm of investors and first home buyers. While house values continue to rise, what lies beneath QV's latest figures is growing evidence that price pressure has shifted... More>>



R&NTU: KiwiRail strike notices withdrawn following new offer

Strike notices on KiwiRail have been withdrawn. Rail and Maritime Transport Union General Secretary Wayne Butson says following negotiations between the RMTU and KiwiRail, a new offer from KiwiRail will be taken back to union members for ratification... More>>



Banking: Stress Tests Show Strengthening Bank Resilience

The latest stress tests carried out by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand – Te Pūtea Matua show strengthening resilience in the banking sector and the benefits of continuing to build capital buffers... More>>



Reserve Bank: Deputy Governor Reflects On Time At RBNZ
Central bankers must continue to look forward to guard against the unpredictable, Deputy Governor Geoff Bascand says in a speech published today. Mr Bascand joined the Reserve Bank of New Zealand – Te Pūtea Matua in 2013 during the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis... More>>


Xero: Data Reveals ICT Expenditure Key To Small Business Sales Growth
Xero, the global small business platform, today released a new report which shows New Zealand small business ICT expenditure has increased 25 percent compared to pre-pandemic levels - more than the UK (20%) and Australia... More>>


Fonterra: Lifts Forecast Farmgate Milk Price Range And Revises Earnings Guidance At First Quarter Update

Fonterra Co-operative Group today lifted its 2021/22 forecast Farmgate Milk Price range, reported a solid start to the 2022 financial year and revised its earnings guidance... More>>


Canterbury Museum: New Research - Bald Haast's Eagle Feasted On Moa Guts

New Zealand’s extinct Haast’s Eagle (Hieraaetus moorei), the largest known eagle, gulped down viscera like a vulture and may even have been bald, new research suggests... More>>