Using farm management software is ideal for a farming business that aims to get the best out of its land, says Hawkes Bay dairy farmer Lewis Knauf.
Wairua Dairies, 40km from Hastings, milk 1600 cows and raise their own replacements as well as running a significant cropping programme. Lewis is the operations manager for the farm, which employs 12 staff. It was originally purchased by his parents Ivan and Sue in 2001 and is owned by a family company.
It’s a big and busy farming operation. “If you look at the farm calendar, there’s not many days where there’s nothing happening.” This includes irrigating more than half of the 645ha-effective area and about 160ha of cropping a year, mainly maize and fodder beet, along with lucerne, rape and winter oats.
GOOD PADDOCK RECORDING
Lewis chose software that he could use to set up better paddock recording.
“The map views were a big selling point of this software. We’re using it to keep track of what we put on each paddock and building up a paddock history over time.”
They need to keep doing new subdivision as they put in more dams for irrigation water. “In Hawke’s Bay you will need [stored water] at some stage every year – you just don’t know when or for how long. In an average year we will be out of irrigation water for 21 days, so we’ve got to try to fill that hole the best we can.
“Working from the interactive farm map is fantastic. When you’re subdividing it’s just a few clicks of the mouse to do on the map, and it keeps the paddock history from the old area.”
RECORDING ON THE GO
Another drawcard was “the ease of use of this software compared to others we’ve tried. The software we’re using is so easy – just click, click and you’re done. You don’t spend hours in the office.”
The Wairua Dairies team are using the software to record information as they go. “Then I can look at it later… One guy does all the farm walks, for example. He puts that in, and then I can look wherever I am and make decisions off it…
“If my parents want information, it’s all sitting on the software. It’s great for that. They go in when they want to.”
The software records from the past year give him the beginnings of a plan for the coming year, Lewis notes. It’s a big step from the old system of making notes on paper and collating it all at the end of each season. “I tinker around on the map with the cropping plan for next year. It makes it easy to keep track of that sort of thing. Changes to cropping plans can be recorded before the end of the meeting for everyone to see.”
MANAGING GRAZING STOCK
As they get to know the software they have seen more things they could do with it. It’s turned out to be suitable for managing the replacements, for example. Rearing 900 calves a year and grazing 300 of them until they enter the herd, while selling the rest as beef-cross weaners, is quite a large enterprise and Wairua are now using the software for all the related recording. “It’s effectively a 250ha grazing operation attached to a dairy farm. We use the software to keep track of their progress. We are recording their weights and all the animal health treatments. That’s a big thing for us.
“We record young stock as they come in and leave. Everything gets wanded and then when it’s weighed or treated that information all goes in. It makes it nice and easy – you just carry the wand, hook up to phone and send the file away to the software and it’s all stored.
“This software enables you to unlock potential. It works well for us.”
- Quick and easy to use
- Good mapping and paddock records
- Good animal records
- As you get to know it, you see more things you can do with it.
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