West Coast dairy farmer Neil Allers is using farm software to get all his farm information in one place.
Neil has been managing Blairs farm milking 830 cows near Lake Brunner for 2 and a half years now. He hadn't done much with computers before. “I’ve caught on how to do it – it’s not that hard. It’s a really excellent tool.”
With the farm converted to dairying seven years ago, Neil’s running an active regrassing programme, putting about 15% of the farm into crop and then new grass. The pasture mixes are ryegrass/clover or tall fescue/clover. “We battle a bit with Manuka beetle, and the tall fescue tolerates it a bit better”. This year they’ve got 19ha in kale and 24ha of swedes.
Neil is recording all chemicals and fertiliser applied as he goes, as well as effluent application. “We’re recording everything we do with the land.” He often views this information through a paddock history report or a nutrient report, for example to see the rate of nitrogen applied to a paddock over a year.
Surprisingly for a high-rainfall area they often experience a period of summer dry. That’s because the hump and hollow system is designed to drain water away, he explains. He’s recording the pasture covers online each week, or every second week over the winter, and then the software sorts the paddocks into a feed wedge for him.
“It’s nice to know what your feed looks like. You can see where you are compared to where you want to be and where there’s a hole or surplus. If you want to plan for silage, you can see where it’s growing well. You can plan ahead.”
He’s recording all stock transactions or changes as they happen, and that gives him a realtime stock rec. “It’s good to be able to have a look at what you’ve got at all times – what you’ve sold; what you’ve transferred – it’s all on record. We graze some animals off, and with this software that’s easy to track.” This information is also provided as a key report to the farm owner Landcorp.
He gets real value from the streamlined online recording. “The information is all there in one place. You don’t have to transfer it from one programme to another one. And you don’t have to try to find it. It’s all there. You don’t have it on bits and scraps of paper.”
He estimates that includes about 90% of the information he needs to show for a dairy company audit.
A key focus currently is getting two new junior staff, in his team of four, up to speed. He’s looking to use health and safety recording with the software to cover off that side of things.
It’s a good investment in his view. “It takes a while to get used to the software,” he notes. “But with a bit of training you can get quite fast. And the information is easy to get out.”
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