All eyes are on the 1310ha medium hill country farm as it paves the way as Beef + Lamb’s first Future Farm, Lanercost. A mix of 80 farmers and rural professionals gathered at Lanercost farm at it’s second open day to gauge the success of the farm in its first 12 months and understand the plan for the North Canterbury farm.
An interesting dynamic between Beef + Lamb NZ and two private investors leasing the North Canterbury farm for the next 15 years.
These joint partnerships a foreshadowing of pathways forward within the industry, not necessarily to farm ownership, but opportunities for farmers to make some headway during their careers.
The tone was set by Sam McIvor, Beef + Lamb Chief Executive and Chairman of the Future Farm board about the impending changes/challenges the industry faces.
“We are now facing the biggest changes in our industry since the '80s and '90s. I remember times then when the price of a ewe was 50 cents and we had $4 lambs. Back then we productivitied out of it”
“The challenges facing our industry are water quality and climate change, and we can’t productivity out of these changes like we did back then.”
McIvor notes that transparency is key moving forward.
“Government and the public have more impact on your farm than ever before”, McIvor noted.
“We can no longer focus on only what happens behind the farm gate, pushing productivity and kill weights. Now we, as farmers, need to understand the consumer, working with processors to ensure the products we are producing are fit for purpose and demand”.
He went on to speak about the impact of the media on the general public, pointing out most New Zealanders do not know enough about farming to form their own perceptions or make unbiased decisions.
“You’ve always been environmental stewards, now we have to show what we are doing to maintain our social licence.”
Kirsti Lovie, Future Farms Advisor, bought on FarmIQ to ensure the farm which was at absolute capacity within its regional council limits, was not only keeping complaint and on track with its environmental goals but also, to ensure transparency for the levy payers.
Extensive work between both Overseer and FarmIQ has meant Kirstie and farm manager, Digby Heard, are on the same page, as they tackle a variance of land use and type.
“Anyone can write a plan, but it’s actually about who is opening and shutting gates. Who is making those daily decisions and seeing that plan is being carried out” Kirsti explains, “FarmIQ allows Digby to be making significant planning decisions when he is out on farm with the backing of FarmIQ, he can plan from the paddock rather than running back and forth to the office”.
Over winter, Lanercost takes on 148 dairy grazers, this poses multiple challenges for the farm.
Ensuring compliance with ever tightening land use rules and the lay of the land means that options aren’t exactly limitless on this 1310ha (1100ha effective) farm.
The movement of cattle puts the heart in the throat after the M. Bovis debacle, though Simon Lee says there has been some comfort in having FarmIQ to help with traceability.
“One of the reasons we bought on FarmIQ was about animal movements, with the dairy cows coming on over winter it gives us some peace of mind that we can prove what’s been where and in contact with what of our stock”, Lee explains.
“I can also drive past the farm gate without feeling like I have to drive up the driveway to see what’s going on.”