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Ballance helps farmers better weather the weather

18 November 2014

Ballance helps farmers better weather the weather

Ballance Agri-Nutrients has joined forces with NIWA to bring advanced hi-resolution weather, climate and environmental forecasts to farmers via the co-operative’s Ag Hub online farm management system.

Announcing the partnership, Ballance General Manager AgInformation Graeme Martin said farm profitability and sustainability are increasingly affected by variable weather patterns, growing conditions and the availability of water.

“Farmers are looking for the best possible support to make operational decisions. NIWA’s advanced forecasting systems and its national climate station network are at the leading edge of weather and environmental information.

“Our agreement with NIWA enables us to put the best weather, climate and environmental information in front of farmers through our FarmMet forecast package. The real power lies in coupling this with our Ag Hub farm information systems, providing a very rich source of data available for farmers to tap into and use to make the most profitable and sustainable decisions for their operations.”

As part of the partnership NIWA has looked at where Ballance shareholders are located in the country and has a plan in place to fill six gap areas in Whangarei, South of Auckland/Firth of Thames, South Hamilton, Hawke’s Bay, Taranaki and Southland to strategically position climate and weather stations for Ballance shareholder use. This includes more than 10 new full climate stations to be placed on selected dairy farms, in addition to more than 100 IrriMet stations on selected Ballance farms.

A $200 + GST annual subscription enables users to access Ag Hub FarmMet and receive:
• Hi-resolution weather forecasts
• 2, 6 and 15 day forecasts with built-in verification
• Rolling forecasts of soil water balance, growing conditions and seasonal variability
• National scale forecast maps at 2 and 6 days

With the recent launch of an exclusive Ag Hub offering for Ballance shareholders, those belonging to the co-operative can sign up to an Ag Hub start-up package free-of-charge, and then add on the FarmMet module at a cost of $200 per annum to receive the added benefits.

Mr Martin says when NIWA’s weather and climate information is linked into Ag Hub’s data capabilities, farmers will have a very powerful tool to support key decisions, mitigate risks and underpin environmental compliance.

“So many decisions on-farm are dependent on the weather, from the timing of baleage or silage operations to spraying and irrigation. The shorter phase forecasting is invaluable to support these types of decisions while the longer term forecasts can support decisions around lambing, feed planning, irrigation scheduling and harvest timing.”

He says FarmMet is a natural enhancement to Ag Hub which captures a range of data, recorded on-farm and from external sources – from pasture cover to effluent irrigation patterns – and also supports better on-farm management and decision-making. It will also enable farmers to get better results from their nutrient applications, many of which depend on weather and environmental conditions to deliver the best outcomes.

As part of the partnerships’ ongoing focus on innovation, Ballance and NIWA are working to deliver Ag Hub users access to weather forecasts at a 1.5 km resolution during the early part of 2015 – providing farmers with the highest resolution available to New Zealand's primary sector.


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