Using farm management software to track stock and paddocks means “no surprises”, says a Wairarapa farm manager who is part of a corporate farming operation.
Ian Evans runs 4200 stock units on the 518ha hill country property Mangarata for the Taratahi Agricultural Training Centre. Mangarata has been using the farm software for two years, and it’s helping Ian keep his finger on the pulse.
“The information is right in front of you as a manager. I’m setting weight targets for mobs of R1 cattle or the ewe hoggets and 2-tooths. For example, if I want animals up to a certain weight in May, I can set targets for January and every month in between. Then I can compare what’s happening each month. There are no surprises.”
Now the other three farms run by Taratahi are also starting to use the software.
ON THE SAME PAGE
The four farms owned or leased by Taratahi run a total of 47,000 stock units between them. They will all use the software for the coming season.
“The software will become our main data entry point for the four farms,” says Ian. “Our feed budgeting and accounting software will feed off it. It will also help with organisational reporting, and for the three lease farms it will assist with reporting to the farm owners on things like fertiliser applications and fencing.
“It means we will all capture the right information at the right time and use it to drive farm efficiency. We will know if we are hitting our targets or if we need to do some work on something. It gets everyone on the same page.”
Fellow Taratahi farm manager Reuben McClean says it makes good sense. “We can use the software to record a whole heap of things in one place, and then there’s the potential to do all sorts of things with the information.”
For starters, Reuben envisages the software replacing the farm diary and spreadsheets, and being used to record animal health treatments for their meat company. The other two farm managers are Matt Smith and Angus Brown.
KEEPING IT LIVE
Recently Ian has used the software to set up online health and safety recording as well as environment planning.
“The software gives us a very active system. There’s no point doing it on a piece of paper. The online recording keeps these things live and in our minds, and that’s how we will get good results. When you set up a plan you set up tasks in the online calendar at the same time and you can assign them to staff to make sure things get done. That’s the cool part.”
Mangarata now has hazards, incidents and visitors recording online as well as an emergency plan, and they will set up sessions at team meetings in future.
“You’ve still got to do the thinking and the talking but the online recording takes some of the pain out of it for the farmer. It’s a good support tool.”
Having mapped the farm from the environmental perspective, Ian can easily show the 20% of the farm that is prone to erosion or the 50ha that gets waterlogged in winter. “It’s handy for planning,” he says. “The time will come when it will be a requirement. Now it’s done [for Mangarata] and because it’s online it’s easy to adjust and refine.
“There’s an easy interactive tool that you go through, and it gets you thinking about your farm as a resource. You consider what parts you need to manage separately and you can see what parts to manage more conservatively or which parts you can focus on for more productivity.”
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