LISTEN: Drought, challenges and Farmax: Liz Genever talks to Challenge Sheep farmer Matt Blyth
August 31st, 2018
On this episode of the UK AHDB's podcast: Liz Genever, AHDB Senior Beef & Lamb Scientist, talks to Matt Blyth, one of our Challenge Sheep farmers, at Didling farm in West Sussex. She finds out what decisions Matt has had to make as a result the hot weather and how using Farmax has helped him to better plan and analyse his farm enterprise.
How a UK beef farmer is set to lift gross margins by 30%
August 13th, 2018
Somerset beef farmer Matt House is set to increase kilogrammes of beef produced per hectare by 23% and lift gross margins 30% in the next two seasons.
Mr House, who manages 195 Aberdeen Angus suckler cows and followers across 195ha at Bowden Farm, has spent the past three years improving grass management.
His overall goal is to build a sustainable, financially self-sufficient farming system and produce a pre-subsidy surplus without increasing labour requirements.
AHDB senior beef and sheep scientist Liz Genever, who has been working closely with Kiwi software founders Farmax, put Mr House in touch with the company’s Jack Keeys.
'Innovative and forward thinking' farmers take top environment award
April 12th, 2018
Richard and Becks Tosswill's farming operation is described by the Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards judges as an "innovative and forward-thinking farm driven by a passion for change through social responsibility and commitment to further the future of New Zealand farming".
The Tosswills, who have won the region's supreme award, have been farming Te Awaawa, a 646ha sheep and beef hill country property near Masterton for the past 10 years.
The couple farm 3000 texel-cross ewes with 1000 replacement ewe lambs. They have reviewed their sheep policies and added a trading component in the past few years to provide flexibility in their summer dry environment. They run 100 angus breeding cows and 20 to 25 replacements are mated and calved as two year olds.
Kaipara Flats sheep and beef operation wins Auckland Farm Environment Awards
April 9th, 2018
Family teamwork and a multi-generational attachment to the land have helped the Dill family win the Auckland Farm Environment Awards.
Father and son duo, Bruce and Steve Dill, are the farmers on a 488 hectare sheep and beef property at Kaipara Flats, near Warkworth.
They are supported by Bruce's wife Felicity, and Steve's wife Clare, who has an increasing involvement alongside her communications and marketing consultancy work.
They also won category awards for soil management, livestock and business management.
North Canterbury sheep and beef farmers roll with the seasons
April 4th, 2018
North Canterbury hill country farmers Mark and Jane Schwass like to keep their options open when it comes to their sheep and beef farming operation.
The vagaries of the weather and market mean they are not fixed to any livestock class or sale plan.
The couple run a sheep and beef breeding and finishing operation as well as dairy support, grazing young dairy stock.
The Schwass' have farmed Kaiora Downs since 2000, with the 1800 hectares made up of 956ha owned and another adjacent 850ha leased by the couple. The farm contains flats, rolling country and hills and the soils vary from light silt loams to heavy clays requiring drainage, but with no major erosion issues.
Scenic outlook part of Coop family farm on Mahia Peninsula
April 4th, 2018
Okepuha Station has a bird's eye view of the Rocket Lab launching pad on Mahia Peninsula and Richard and Hannah Coop love farming the windswept Hawke's Bay coastline.
Richard and Hannah are the fourth generation Coops to farm at Mahia in more than a century. The family's long association with the peninsula began back in 1905 when land was bought by Richard's great grandfather.
The 940ha Okepuha Station was farmed by Richard's parents, Will and Cathy, from the 1970s until recently when Richard and Hannah took over the farm business.
Moving back to the farm eight years ago, Richard immersed himself in the family business eventually taking the reins and the overall management of the family block. The couple bought the stock, plant and machinery and lease the land from a family trust.
Building a resilient sheep system in drought country
February 27th, 2018
When Charlie and Kate Croft took over the family farm at Waipara in North Canterb
ury five years ago they could not have anticipated the climatic challenges that lay ahead.
Kate says they had one good year, after which they were thrown into a three-year drought that killed 130-year-old macrocarpa trees, tested their fortitude and stretched their overdraft.
The couple joke that the drought taught them how to spend money, but it also taught them the power of feeding. Their willingness to invest in supplementary feed and off-farm grazing meant animal productivity wasn't lost and they came through the drought relatively well.
"We were in crisis mode for a while, and as the focus was on maintaining stock performance, we learnt how to spend money," says Kate
Rotorua and Hokitika farmers named as finalists for Maori excellence in farming award
Februrary 23rd, 2018
Two dairy farming operations are the finalists in the Ahuwhenua Trophy BNZ Māori Excellence in Farming Award.
They are Rotorua's Onuku Māori Lands' Trust and the Proprietors of Mawhera Incorporation (Hokitika).
The Onuku Māori Lands Trust's Boundary Road Farm is a 72 hectare block near Lake Rotomahana, about 30 kilometres south of Rotorua. The farm milks 220 cows which produce about 90,000kg of milk solids. The trust consists of four dairy farms, a drystock farm, forestry, natural reserves and a manuka plantation. Onuku has also developed outside the farm gates, starting an export honey business called Onuku Honey.
The Mawhera Incorporation Farm is a 348ha property in the Arahura Valley, north of Hokitika. The milking platform is 257ha and the 500 cows produce 190,000kg of milk solids. The incorporation has always used 50:50 sharemilkers to farm the land with Mark and Debbie Van Beek joining the farm in 2006.
Farmax Team Member wins Bronze
Congratulations to our very own Thomas Botica who represented New Zealand at the Oceania Powerlifting Championships in Singapore over the weekend.
The first in line when you contact the HelpDesk, Thomas isn't only a Farmax guru, but one of the world's top power lifters in his weight class.
Thomas achieved a bronze medal in each of his lifts (Squat, Benchpress and Deadlift) in addition to a bronze medal for overall total.
Head over to his page Thomas Botica Powerlifting if you'd like to follow Tom's progress, otherwise you'll probably catch him on the FARMAX 0800 number !
Finishing farmers chase markets, not grass
Visitors to the South Canterbury intensive sheep, beef and cropping farm of Jonty and Nicky Hyslop may be surprised at the lack of livestock on their property in November.
While their farm is growing plentiful pasture as is expected in late spring, decisions about livestock numbers are more...
More digital farm input welcomed
Agritech leaders welcome AgResearch's intention to prepare agriculture for the digital future.
This will allow NZ to stay ahead of the game as an exporter through system wide analysis and testing of beneficial tools.
An overarching research group has the potential to pull together a somewhat scattered technology industry, still in its early days of maturity!
Please click here to read the full article...
2017 Farmax Emerging Rural Professional of the Year
Farmax is pleased to present AgFirst consultant, Stacey Belton with the Farmax Emerging Rural Professional of the Year Award at the NZIPIM Rural Professional of the Year Awards 2017. Stacey is a dairy consultant for AgFirst in Hamilton, specialising in feed planning, environmental implications and nutrient management. She was thrilled to take home the award, saying “I really love my job and I put a lot of effort into it and it is a really great feeling to be recognised as contributing to the industry.”
As a rural consultant – and an accredited Farmax consultant – she believes a crucial element is knowledge transfer and supporting busy farmers, so that they can focus on running their business while she fills in the finer details. “There is so much information to keep track of in the industry...as a consultant I provide the link between the farmer and industries such as research and development and ensuring that farmers are up-to-date on the latest ideas,” says Stacey.
Stacey has an extensive rural background that spans all the way from Canterbury to Northland. Born and raised on a family farm in Matamata, she then went on to complete a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with First Class Honours at Lincoln University. After studying she took up a consulting position with AgFirst in Northland, and two years later moved to the Hamilton office.
Despite being busy with her role as a rural professional and being treasurer for the Matamata Cycling Club, Stacey is keen to expand her agricultural activities and learning: “I would like to get more involved in industry groups, especially now that my confidence in my role has grown and I feel like I can contribute now having more experience.”
As part of her award, Stacey has won paid hours to complete research that is relevant to the industry. Stacey’s project is set to be timely and interesting as she looks at how to attract more young people into the agricultural consultancy profession. Her goal is to make it easier for the next generation coming through to fill in the spaces when current consultants retire in 10, 20 or 30 years, because there will be a giant knowledge and skill gap that needs to be filled.
“The age of the average farm consultant is increasing and I don’t see a lot of young people coming through the ranks in this profession…some initial thoughts are how do we get more money from the tasks these young consultants are doing? Does the government need to subsidize this service? Do we need a training ground like in the MAF days?” Stacey explains.
The project is set to be completed next year, and we very much look forward to the results and insights she presents. A huge congratulations to Stacey from the Farmax team!
NZIPIM Consultant of the Year Awards 2017
June 22nd, 2017
The New Zealand Institute of Primary Industries (NZIPIM) has taken over the running of the Consultant of the Year awards. Here at Farmax we are pleased to continue our involvement as a sponsor of the Emerging Rural Professional of the Year category. Beef + Lamb New Zealand and DairyNZ are also returning as sponsors of their respective categories. Were thrilled that NZIPIM are continuing these awards, which celebrate the expertise and value agricultural consultants and rural professionals provide to the pastoral farming industry in New Zealand.
More information, including Application Forms can be found on the NZIPIM Website.
The Awards will be presented at the NZIPIM Conference in Lincoln on the 7th of July.
Agriculture teachers embrace technology
April 28th, 2017
Agriculture and horticulture high school teachers from across New Zealand were in Hamilton last week for the 2017 National Agribusiness Conference at St Paul's Collegiate School.
They gathered around monitors, enjoying the chance to play with Farmax agricultural modelling software.
Read the full article.
Farmax Conference 2017 Postponed
March 23rd, 2017
Regrettably we have made the decision to postpone our conference to a later date, to be advised.
It was a difficult decision to make, the Farmax team were genuinely looking forward to the positive engagement with our users and collaboration partners.
The reason behind the decision which we are happy to share, is that we are currently deeply involved in a strategy refinement process.
We want to get that right, and had hoped to make several announcements about the future direction of Farmax and our products at the conference, however we feel we have run out of time to do that justice. We have a lot of exciting news, but we are not quite ready to announce it yet.
Therefore, the decision was made to postpone the conference, with a new date to be confirmed later in the year.
We understand that the conference was a training opportunity, should you wish to pursue further FARMAX training at this time please contact the FARMAX HelpDesk to discuss the training options either remotely or near you.
For those that have already paid, a refund of your conference fees processed as soon as we are able.
If you would like to discuss this further, please don't heistate to contact the FARMAX HelpDesk at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0800 327 629.
Farmax Conference 2017February 10, 2017
Registrations for the 2017 FARMAX Conference are no open. Click here to register.
The Farmax Conference is being held on the 11th - 12th May, 2017 at Mac's Function Centre in Wellington
Farm system analysis and monitoring of performance is becoming increasingly accepted as best practice for New Zealand pastoral farmers to engage with the challenges that lie ahead.
The 2017 Farmax Conference will address the increasing demand for knowledge about the utilisation of decision support tools like FARMAX. The themes of the conference will be innovation and technology, and farming within limits.
It will be focused on enhancing FARMAX skills and will include three separate streams to accommodate different levels of knowledge: introductory, intermediate and advanced analysis. These three streams are split further into dairy or sheep, beef & deer.
Anyone is welcome to attend; in 2015 we were pleased to have farmers, consultants, bankers, government officials and many other agricultural professionals attend. You don't have to know much about Farmax or use the software to come along.
Confirmed guest speakers include:
- Steve Carden, CEO of Landcorp
- Matt Blyth, UK farmer
Farmax Research Scholarships
December 23rd, 2016
Applications for the 2017 Farmax Scholarships are now open.
Farmax created the Lincoln Scholarship in 2012, and the Massey Scholarship in 2014, to encourage up and coming agricultural students to undertake research that will benefit New Zealand farms and agriculture.
Manager of Farmax, Gavin McEwen, says Farmax is passionate about encouraging the next generation of agricultural scientists and rural professionals to maintain a high quality and breadth of research for the sector.
“There is a new generation of agricultural minds who have the potential to create and discover new tools and resources that will help the lives of everyday farmers and further New Zealand’s agricultural reputation and progress as well. As usual, we are excited to see what proposals our applicants come up with.”
Previous award winners have studied the integration of crops on New Zealand dairy farms for supplementary feed during lactation; the ability to predict the amount of metabolisable energy in pasture; and profitability and break even points of developing marginal hill country land.
Scholarships are open until 10th March 2017. To apply for the Farmax Massey University Scholarship or to find out more head to www.massey.co.nz. To apply for the Farmax Lincoln University Scholarship or to find out more head to www.lincoln.co.nz.
Goodbye Access Violations
December 10, 2016
In an effort to strive for continuous improvement of our products, our 7.1 releases have introduced a new method of error logging. FARMAX is a complex tool with a multitude of intricate coded equations and unfortunately we know this means bugs can pop up. Our new method of error diagnostics gives us much more powerful insight into where the issues occur and are immensely helpful in helping us solve these.
The new error messages allow the user to send an error diagnostic message to the Farmax HelpDesk. We would like to say a big THANK YOU to all users who have taken the time to send these if they have seen them pop up; every one helps us improve the tool for our customers.
Farmers proactive in meeting minimum wage requirements
November 24, 2016
Lycinda Lett, AgFirst Waikato
Farmers are being proactive to ensure they remain compliant with minimum wage laws in New Zealand and still effectively manage costs on their dairy farms, a recent study has shown.
The research was carried out by Lycinda Lett, who was named the 2015 NZIPIM Emerging Rural Professional of the Year at last year’s Farmax Consultant of the Year Awards. Her report focusses on The Application of Meeting Minimum Wage Requirements on Farm.
Lett is an AgFirst farm consultant based in Morrinsville and part of her prize package for winning the award was 40 paid hours to carry out a study that could benefit New Zealand’s agriculture sector.
Lett’s research investigated how rural professionals were aiding farmers to meet minimum wage requirements, and also looked at what options are being used on farm to remain compliant with employment policy throughout the year.
Her research was driven by her passion for staff and labour management on dairy farms. She believes people are the industry’s biggest asset.
“We need young people to join our industry and share in what makes dairy farming truly special,” she says. “So we need to keep looking after our people by managing their workload and fairly compensating them for their efforts.”
Lett says recent enforcement of minimum wage laws in New Zealand has changed the way farmers manage employee time and remuneration.
“Previously, employers had relied on averaging staff hours worked throughout the season. Under the new legislation, averaging over a period greater than 14 days is not allowed. The seasonality of dairy farm employment means that fortnightly averaging is tricky and difficult to manage at certain times of the year.
“This has significant impacts on staff management to ensure they are being paid at least the minimum wage during any fortnightly period in the season.”
Lett found the dairy industry remains mainly salary based, with a focus by farmers on refining farm systems, such as accurately recording hours worked, employing the necessary number of staff, and calculating total value package accurately.
“Farmers are challenged by tradition and attitude towards change, but it was pleasing to find that they have come up with reliable ways to combat times when minimum wage is not met.”
Lett’s survey results suggest that giving staff a ‘top-up payment’ was a popular solution used by farmers to maintain compliance when their base salary was not high enough compared to the hours they worked, and they slipped below minimum wage.
She discovered that culture on farm is also changing with 65 per cent of farmers surveyed using timesheets to ensure accurate recording of hours worked, then using this information to create efficiencies on farm.
Perhaps the most heartening finding of Lett’s research was that even with the low milk price putting pressure on farmers and their businesses, they do not believe reducing staff remuneration is an option.
“Labour makes up a significant part of a farm’s working expenses so you would expect farmers to cut costs in this area when times are tight,” she says. “However, my research illustrates that dairy farmers value their staff as an important asset to their business.
“There was general agreement amongst farmers that milk price was out of the control of the employee and therefore there should be no changes to staff remuneration as a result. What the milk price did do was force farmers to review their labour quantity and quality.”
Lett found many sources of advice and tools, such as timesheet templates and mobile apps, available to farmers regarding minimum wage from organisations including Employment New Zealand, Federated Farmers and DairyNZ.
“My study suggests there is no issue with correct information not being available, to allow farmers to get it right,” says Lett. “Rural professionals are using their own knowledge and directing farmers to sources of advice that are best to ensure that the right message is being portrayed and that each business is facilitating best practice.
“The issue exists where an incorrect source is used to establish management policy, thereby putting a business at risk of non-compliance. Farmers need to make sure they are getting the answers and advice they need from the right people and places. It is nice to see that they are already making an effort and taking the right action on-farm.”
Lett began consulting as a dairy advisor with the AgFirst Waikato team in early 2011 and has a Bachelor of Agricultural Science with second class honours from Lincoln University.
In 2015, she also completed a Kellogg Rural Leadership Scholarship, with her project investigating barriers and opportunities to improving dairy farm rosters in the Waikato.
Farmax general manager Gavin McEwen, whose firm sponsored Lett’s research, was impressed with the calibre and depth of the report. “This research will be very valuable for farmers and those working in the New Zealand dairy industry,” says McEwen. “Once again we are pleased to support the work of emerging agricultural professionals like Lycinda. Her insights will make a difference to our industry’s most important asset – its people.”
For more information, visit www.farmax.co.nz
Note: Lett approached 14 rural professionals (RPs) and 23 farmers from across New Zealand to provide answers to her survey. Of which seven RPs (farm advisors, people management advisors, and accountants) and 12 farmers responded, which was a combination of emailed responses and phone conversations.
FARMAX Dairy 7.1
November 10, 2016
The latest version of FARMAX Dairy - Gen 7.1 - has been released. To find out what specific changes and improvements have been made click here.
Farmax Conference 2017October 28, 2016
Mark the 11th and 12th of May in your calendar when our bi-annual conference is being held in Wellington at the Macs Function Centre. Registrations will be open early next year.
Integration SurveyOctober 15, 2016
A big thank you to everyone that took the time to complete our FARMAX – Overseer Integration survey. We had an overwhelming response, further solidifying the demand for compatibility between FARMAX and Overseer software. We will be sure to keep you updated in the future about where this goes.
October 10, 2016
The Pasture Growth Forecaster has had a refresh and it’s worth checking out!
Alongside our partner Beef + Lamb New Zealand, we’ve made some changes to the District Forecast page for sheep and beef farmers
Weekly emails have a welcome new look as well.
These changes have been designed to make the forecasts easier to interpret and relate to your farm. In the email we now display the forecast in a graph and we have included the variability across the region. Remember some forecasts are for large regions with highly variable weather, soil and fertility. The forecast in emails is now showing the variation across the district assuming medium fertility and soil moisture settings. On the PGF website you can now fine tune the forecast for your region by selecting the fertility and soil moisture settings to parametrise the forecast for your farm, giving you a more accurate 14 day forecast for your feed budgeting.
Feeding the potential
September 2, 2016
Introducing red clover forage crops into Anna and Blair Nelson’s farm system has helped lift the productivity of their ewe flock significantly.
Click here to read the full article.
Farmax Consultant of the Year 2016 winners announced in three categories
August 9, 2016
Three winners have been named in the 2016 Farmax Consultant of the Year Awards in Rotorua overnight.
They are Trevor Cook from Totally Vets Ltd in Feilding who won the Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep and Beef Rural Professional of the Year title, Brent Boyce from LIC’s FarmWise Consultancy Group in Wakefield who is the Dairy NZ Dairy Rural Professional of the Year and BakerAg sheep and beef consultant Ellie Cranswick from Masterton who was named New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management’s (NZIPIM) Emerging Rural Professional of the Year.
The Farmax Consultant of the Year Awards, now in their fourth year, were open to agricultural consultants from around New Zealand. Organisers broadened the criteria this year to include all rural professionals and this year’s finalists included a polytechnic agricultural tutor and a rural banker.
Sixteen finalists competed for the three titles and the prize package included a Windows tablet and professional development funding for each of the three category winners.
Farmax CEO Gavin McEwen said he was impressed with the excellent standard of nominees in all categories. “The judges had a tough job as the finalists were all impressive. The winners have gone above and beyond to make a difference to their clients and the industry. These rural professionals demonstrate commitment, innovative thinking, passion for farming, and are all working hard to advance the industry and better their communities. We congratulate them for their drive, effort and vision,” said Mr McEwen.
Farmax initiated the Consultant of the Year Awards in 2013 as a way of recognising the expertise and value agricultural consultants and rural professionals provide to the pastoral farming industry in New Zealand.
NZIPIM partnered with Farmax on the awards this year. NZIPIM Chief Executive Stephen Macaulay said: “NZIPIM is proud to be associated with the Farmax Consultant of the Year awards which recognise and promote excellence within the rural profession. As expected this year’s awards was tightly contested across the three award categories. The role these rural professionals play in the agricultural industry is significant, especially given current challenges facing the rural sector in New Zealand.”
From 2017 NZIPIM will take over the running of the awards. Farmax will continue its involvement as a sponsor of the Emerging Rural Professional of the Year category.
Mr McEwen said: “the change makes sense and we are excited to be supporting NZIPIM as they take on the Consultant of the Year Awards next year. Sponsoring the Emerging Rural Professional of the Year category aligns closely with our strategy of enhancing education and awareness of tools like Farmax at a tertiary level. We believe in supporting and celebrating the next generation of rural professionals, who play such a vital role in the future of the agricultural industry in New Zealand.”
Please click on the below links for more information on our 2016 winners:
Trevor Cook named Sheep + Beef Rural Professional of the Year
Brent Boyce named Dairy Rural Professional fo the Year
Ellie Cranswick named Emerging Rural Professional of the Year
Emerging rural professional award finalists demonstrate potential of the industry
July 28, 2016
The Farmax Consultant of the Year awards have revealed the high calibre of young people working in the rural industry.
There are four finalists in the Emerging Rural Consultant category, which are currently being judged and will be announced by Farmax at the NZIPIM National Conference in Rotorua on August 8.
Farmax general manager Gavin McEwen said that the calibre of the nominees in the NZIPIM Emerging Rural Consultant category this year was particularly impressive: “It is inspiring to see the young professionals who are finalists in our emerging rural professional category. Their drive, vision and the way they embrace technology and environmental compliance reveals the future direction of the agricultural industry. It’s very positive to see, in them, the potential for New Zealand farming.”
The four finalists are Agri Magic farm environment consultant Anna McLachlan from Canterbury; ANZ senior relationship manager Marcus Bousfield from Hawkes Bay, who specialises in agribusiness and equity partnerships; BakerAg agribusiness consultant Ellie Cranswick from Masterton; and Ravensdown farm environment consultant for Feilding, the Central North Island and Eastern North Island, Chris Tidey.
Chris Tidey grew up on dairy farms in Taranaki and Canterbury and has been working in the agricultural industry for the past four years. He loves his job as a farm environmental consultant for Ravensdown Environmental in the Manawatu, which he juggles with studying for his masters degree at Massey University. In his work he supports farmers with on-farm mitigation and sustainability initiatives to reduce environmental impacts, and obtain land use consents for existing farm operations. “My biggest reward is seeing farmer’s happy when I’ve done a good job,” said Tidey. He says that intensification in the agricultural sector has led to challenges, including the sustainable use of water resources and environmental compliance. “It will be crucial for farmers to engage with a trusted farm consultant and work together to gain on-farm efficiencies,” said Tidey.
Ellie Cranswick has been working for five years in the New Zealand agricultural industry as a sheep and beef consultant for BakerAg in Wairarapa. Cranswick grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Dorset, England, and moved to New Zealand in 2011. She has a passion for the rural community and believes it offers a lot of opportunity to young people. “You can be everything from a shepherd to a rural professional. The agricultural industry as a career is undersold to young people, but it’s a prodigious industry to be in,” said Cranswick, who added the industry needs to continue investing in education to allow children and young adults to develop a passion for the environment, animals and farming and agriculture. Cranswick is project manager for the Beef + Lamb NZ Demonstration Farm Programme in the Wairarapa and is co-founder of the Wairarapa Rural Women’s Initiative, a networking and educational group which has grown in membership.
Anna McLachlan grew up on a sheep and beef farm in Culverden, North Canterbury. She’s been working in the industry for 3.5 years, advising farmers on how to plan and implement farm systems within growing compliance constraints in relation to nutrient management. “Kiwi farmers are so passionate about what they do and I love working with farmers to get great results – it’s a real buzz,” said McLachlan. “The biggest challenge for the New Zealand agriculture industry is how to maintain productivity and profitability within volatile market conditions and increasing environmental constraints.” She said technology and the support of rural professionals is key to help manage risks and develop more efficient, sustainable farm businesses.
Marcus Bousfield grew up on a sheep and beef farm in the central Hawkes Bay and says farming is “in the blood”. He did a bachelor of commerce (agriculture) at Lincoln University and trained at Smedley Station and Cadet Training Farm before joining ANZ. He works with farmers wishing to own farms or grow their existing businesses, and facilitates industry groups, including a red meat discussion group. “The agricultural industry is an exciting one to work in. There are challenges, but there are a lot of people working hard to take things to the next level – adding efficiencies and improving sustainability. New Zealand farmers are resilient and looking at the long term future, and there is a positive story there,” said Bousfield.
The four candidates all agree that technology is vital to farming’s future success in New Zealand. “Technology is going to change the industry immensely and will help improve efficiencies,” said Ellie Cranswick, who said devices and apps will help farmers and consultants to monitor and track all aspects of farm practice. Anna McLachlan added: “Technology will have a massive impact on record keeping and help farmers make improvements and improve efficiencies.” The smart use of technology will help farmers tackle compliance and manage increasingly complex farm businesses. Chris Tidey said use of technology has increased “in leaps and bounds” and using it to track where spray or fertiliser had gone using GPS applications makes managing compliance and environmental requirements a lot easier for farmers. “It’s cool to see young farmers who are ‘all over’ technology,” said Tidey. “I’ve been out on the farm and seen it in action, just through logging onto their phones.” Marcus Bousfield said technology and innovation will work hand-in-hand to help farmers become more sustainable, which is key to the future and success of the agricultural industry.
Last year’s emerging rural professional award was won by Lycinda Lett from AgFirst’s Waikato office.
This year’s prize package includes a Windows tablet and professional development funding. How the nominees intend to use the funds will be considered as part of the judging process.
For more information about the Farmax Consultant of the Year Awards visit www.farmax.co.nz
Farmax names 16 finalists for Consultant of the Year
June 24, 2016
Sixteen finalists are vying for the top titles in the fourth Farmax Consultant of the Year awards.
Award organisers broadened the criteria this year, putting the awards in reach of a broader range of rural professionals than before.
As well as farm consultants this year’s finalists include a polytechnic agricultural tutor and rural banker.
Seven finalists are in contention for the DairyNZ Dairy Consultant of the Year award. Five finalists are chasing the Beef + Lamb NZ Sheep and Beef Consultant of the Year award. The remaining four finalists are in the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management’s (NZIPIM) Emerging Rural Professional of the Year award category.
Carolyn Green and Chris Dickson, consultants for the Ravensdown Fertiliser Co-operative in the upper North Island, are competing for the dairy title. Green is an agri manager at Ravensdown’s Dargaville office while Dickson is a senior agri manager in the Pukekohe office
Green and Dickson are both up against Ashburton based Jeremy Savage of McFarland Rural Business, Stratford based Brendon Attrill of Brendon Attrill Agriculture, Waikato based Nico Mouton of AgFirst Waikato, Wakefield based Brent Boyce of LIC’s FarmWise Consultancy Group and Whanganui based Kate Berry of Topline Agriculture.
AgFirst Northland and Waikato agricultural consultant managing director Bob Thomson is in contention for the sheep and beef title. Also up for the award is BakerAg Masterton director and management consultant Chris Garland, Ravensdown senior agri manager for Gisborne and the Eastern North Island Sue Quilter. Totally Vets Feilding’s Trevor Cook and Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytech agriculture tutor Greg Brady.
AgriMagic farm environment consultant Anna McLachlan, from Christchurch, is a finalist in the emerging consultant category. She is up against ANZ’s equity partnership expert Marcus Bousfield, who covers Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, BakerAg sheep and beef consultant Ellie Cranswick from Masterton and, Ravensdown farm environment consultant for Feilding, the Central North Island and Eastern North Island, Chris Tidey.
The winners of all three awards will be announced by Farmax at the NZIPIM National Conference at Rydges Rotorua on August 8. NZIPIM has partnered with Farmax on the awards and is chairing the judging panel.
This year’s prize package includes a Microsoft Surface tablet personal computer and professional development funding. How the nominees intend to use the funds will be considered as part of the judging process.
Farmax general manager Gavin McEwen said: “With the awards now in their fourth year it is pleasing to again see a high calibre of nominees. The response to the awards has been great with a great deal of positive feedback for Farmax and the award sponsors for recognising the fantastic contribution rural professionals make in the agricultural sector.”
NZIPIM chief executive Stephen Macaulay said: “Rural professionals play an important role in providing high quality professional advice and services to the farming community. With the dairy industry facing its third season under a low dairy payout, the role of rural professionals is increasing in significance.”
“NZIPIM is proud to be associated with the Farmax Consultant of the Year awards which recognise and promote excellence within the rural profession. We expect this year’s awards will once again be tightly contested across the three award categories.”
Last year’s dairy award was won by Phil Journeaux from AgFirst’s Waikato office in Hamilton. Lycinda Lett, also from AgFirst Waikato, won the emerging rural professional award. The sheep and beef award was won by Sully Alsop of BakerAg in Masterton.
Peer recognition boon of consultant award
May 18, 2016
Farmers have until June 10 to enter their favourite rural professional in the fourth Farmax Consultant of the Year Awards.
Rural professionals can also put themselves forward for an award.
“Being a finalist and winner gives you a lot of peer recognition,” said Farmax 2015 Dairy Consultant of the Year Phil Journeaux. “That’s the most important benefit, I believe.”
The Waikato based Agfirst farm consultant recently completed a study that shows reducing farming’s environmental footprint in New Zealand will likely hinder land values in the future. He is planning to spend his prize money on an overseas trip to the International Farm Management Conference in Scotland next year and share his learnings in New Zealand.
Farmax 2014 Dairy Consultant of the Year Chris Lewis of BakerAg in Masterton said his win had longevity.
“For 12 months afterward people were saying to me that they had seen I had won the Farmax Dairy Consultant of the Year Award,” Lewis said.
“Wins like that seem to strike a chord with people and stay in people’s minds. People were giving me really positive feedback about the achievement. There was more value in that for me, personally, than there was in the prizes.”
Lewis, who wrote a report one Environmental Capability within Dairy Farm Consultancy, said farmers working with the best consultants should not hesitate in nominating them for an award.
“If you want to give your consultant the recognition they deserve this is the right way to do it.”
Lewis wished this year’s nominees every success.
Farmax general manager Gavin McEwen said the awards recognised the expertise and value agricultural rural professionals provided to the pastoral farming industry.
“Their advice and skills contribute directly to New Zealand’s bottom-line and that contribution isn’t always recognised,” McEwen said.
“Having DairyNZ, Beef+Lamb NZ and other organisations continue to sponsor the awards is a testament to how valuable the role these individuals play in the success of our sector.”
The New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management is playing a bigger part in this year’s awards. The institute is helping Farmax organise the awards and chairing the judging panel. Organisers are broadening the definition of farm consultants, awards achievable for any rural professional.
The nation’s best rural professionals are eligible for four awards: the Beef + Lamb NZ Sheep and Beef Consultant of the Year, Dairy NZ Dairy Consultant of the Year and the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management (NZIPIM) Emerging Rural Professional of the Year.
Rural professionals do not have to be a Farmax user to qualify and are encouraged to nominate themselves.
Winners will be announced at the NZIPIM National Conference at Rydges, Rotorua, on August 8.
Last year’s awards were won by Sully Alsop of Baker and Associates in Masterton and Phil Journeaux and Lycinda Lett of AgFirst’s Waikato office in Hamilton.
To read more about Consultant of the Year 2016 or to download a Nomination form, Click here
Previous winners said the peer and industry recognition that resulted from winning a Farmax award was immeasurable.
May 12, 2016
Nominations open for Farmax Consultant of the Year
April 28, 2016
The New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management is playing a bigger part in this year’s Farmax Consultant of the Year awards.
The Institute, which will announce the winner alongside Farmax, at its national conference on Monday, August 8, is helping Farmax organise the awards and chairing the judging panel.
The organisers of the award are broadening the criteria for the Consultant of the Year awards making it achievable for any rural professionals to enter the awards alongside farm consultants.
The Institute Chief Executive Stephen Macaulay said the awards recognises excellence in the community of rural professionals and promotes the value and expertise that the rural profession provided to their farming clients.
“Farm consultants and rural professionals have an important role in the provision of professional advice and services to the farming community in lifting profitability and efficiency on-farm in a sustainable manner, more so given the challenges faced in the dairy industry at the moment,” Macaulay said.
Farmax General Manager Gavin McEwen said: “We felt it was a no brainer to partner with the Institute for these awards, the target market of the now widened criteria aligns perfectly with the Institute’s membership base.
“Through the Institute’s networks we’re hoping to reach a wider base of rural professionals. The Institute’s involvement extends to chairing the judging lending their independence to the process and helping design the nomination process. This year’s awards will involve more one on one communication with the nominees, giving them the opportunity to personally demonstrate their distinction in their respective fields.”
Nominations for the fourth Farmax Consultant of the Year awards are about to open.
“The respective sheep + beef and dairy awards will be open to any rural professionals providing professional advice or consultancy to New Zealand farmers. This may be a farm consultant, a bank manager, a scientist, a sales rep, an industry trainer or any other individual that can demonstrate the make a positive impact on New Zealand farmers’ business and the industry through their work,” McEwen said.
The nation’s best rural professionals will be eligible for the Beef + Lamb NZ’s Sheep and Beef Consultant of the Year, DairyNZ’s Dairy Consultant of the Year and the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management’s (NZIPIM) Emerging Rural Professional of the Year.
The prize package includes a Microsoft Surface tablet personal computer, and funding that can go toward professional development to help fund such areas as an overseas conference, professional development course or project work. How the nominees intend to use the funds will be considered as part of the judging process
Rural professionals do not have to be a Farmax user to qualify and are encouraged to nominate themselves.
Winners will be announced at the NZIPIM National Conference at Rydges, Rotorua, on August 8.
Last year’s awards were won by Sully Alsop of Baker and Associates in Masterton and Phil Journeaux and Lycinda Lett of AgFirst’s Waikato office in Hamilton.
From May 2, award nomination forms can be downloaded from the Farmax website at www.farmax.co.nz. Applications open on 2 May and close on 1 July.
First Farm Data Code of Practice accreditations give farmers certainty
2nd March 2016
The first accreditations have been approved for the Farm Data Code of Practice, one of three initiatives that ensure farm data is stored and shared in the most secure way.
Leading farm management software provider Farmax, based at Waikato Innovation Park in Hamilton, was the first company in New Zealand to begin the accreditation process, followed by farm information hub FarmIQ Systems in Wellington and environmental management information hosteGateway Data Services in Invercargill.
The Farm Data Code of Practice board approved accreditation on Wednesday, March 2. Farmax general manager Gavin McEwen said farmers were becoming increasingly concerned about who had access to their data and how it was being used.
“Companies able to show their Farm Data Code of Practice membership will help demonstrate to farmers that their data is being handled in a responsible and ethical manner,” McEwen said.
FarmIQ chief executive Collier Isaacs said accreditation provided assurance to customers.
“FarmIQ has built integration with devices including Tru-Test, Gallagher, Iconix and Te Pari products, and has also created data links with specialist software: Cashmanager Rural for farm finances and feed budgeting with Farmax. This means users can easily move files and information, avoiding having to enter it twice and assisting accuracy and consistency.”
Gateway Data Services Managing Director Janet Brooker said her company had developed software from the ground up to meet accreditation requirements.
“The process for accreditation, although complex and time consuming, reflects the high level set by governing bodies in the treatment of farm data,” she said. “For Gateway Data Services accreditation confirms our investment in high level data encryption, gap redundancy and high end data integrity as the future standard for moving farm data. Excel spreadsheets and CSV files will no longer be acceptable.”
The Farm Data Code of Practice was facilitated by Rezare Systems, also based at Waikato Innovation Park, alongside Farm Data Standards. Rezare will offer support to applicants through the accreditation process.
The code of practice was contracted by DairyNZ, FarmIQ Systems and the Ministry for Primary IndustriesPrimary Growth Partnership, and the trio were joined by the Red Meat Profit Partnership for the standards. Industry representatives on the steering group were CRV Ambreed, Fonterra, LIC, FarmIQ Systems, Fertiliser Association of NZ, Federated Farmers of NZ, and Te Tumu Paeroa had input.
“The Farm Data Code is about facilitating mature conversations about data between farmers and their providers” said Rezare Systems Managing Director, Andrew Cooke. “The actual arrangements around rights to data and its use will vary depending on the type of data and who is paying, but clarity for farmers is crucial, because data is becoming essential for profitable farming.”
Standards have been developed around animal, land application, stock reconciliation, feed, grazing, irrigation, effluent, financial and chart of accounts data, to help make seamless data exchange between different systems the norm.
McEwen said New Zealand farmers were fortunate to have some of the best information technology systems in the world available to them.
“Lack of integration, ease of use and value proposition are hindering uptake for the majority of farmers. Apathy towards and difficulty of data collection creates further issues.“
Data Linker is another Rezare project which aims to connect the many disparate sources of farm data including farm management systems and industry databases.
It works by data consumers and providers registering with Data Linker. Data consumers query Data Linker for specific information and the system finds a matching provider, although no data is transferred without the permission of the farmer.
McEwen is excited about the opportunities all three initiatives will bring the agricultural sector.
“All this needed to happen, we have always been talking to organisations about how we could collaborate and integrate. The need to collaborate to us is just a no brainer,” McEwen said.
“No farmer in New Zealand should have to enter data twice or three times into different systems."
Federated Famers of New Zealand Dairy Industry Group chairman Andrew Hoggard, who served on the Farm Data Code of Practice advisory group for two years, was excited about the first accreditations.
“One thing farmers are always saying is that they are sick and tired of having to supply data three, four or five times to different people,” Hoggard said.
“It’s all about putting systems in place and getting the ground work right.”
ABOUT THE FARM DATA CODE OF PRACTICE
The Farm Data Code of Practice defines disclosures and behaviours required of organisations storing, handling or moving data on behalf of farmers within the New Zealand agricultural industry.
Organisations that comply with the Farm Data Code of Practice will give primary producers confidence that their information is secure and being handled in an appropriate manner – this can lead to increased volumes of data being shared to the benefit of the agricultural sector. Compliant organisations will receive an annual licence, certificate and use of the Farm Data Code of Practice trademark from the Authority. Participation is voluntary.
Areas covered in the Code
•Rights to data of the primary producer, the organisation and any third party.
•Access to the data by the primary producer, the organisation and any third party.
•Security standards under which data is stored on behalf of the primary producer.
•Data sovereignty – where the data is stored and where back-ups are kept.
Reducing environmental footprint could reduce farm values
20th January 2016
Farmax 2015 Dairy Consultant of the Year Phil Journeaux has recently completed a study that shows reducing farming’s environmental footprint in New Zealand will likely hinder land values in the future.
Journeaux is an AgFirst farm consultant based in the Waikato and part of his prize package for winning the Farmax 2015 Dairy Consultant of the Year title was 40 paid hours to carry out a study that could
benefit New Zealand’s agriculture sector.
Journeaux chose to research the impact of environmental constraints such as reducing nitrogen, phosphorous, sediment and microbe discharges, on land values in New Zealand because he had a personal interest in the topic.
“As part of my work on agri-environmental issues, I was aware that a negative impact was acknowledged but that there was little work to quantify it,” he said.
“The price of land is often a key component in determining the entry into a farming career because farming traditionally requires ownership of land, and is a major aspect of farm profitability, as it is the price of land which usually determines the level of debt being carried by the farming business.
“Currently New Zealand farmers, particularly dairy farmers, are carrying high levels of debt and factors that have the potential to reduce land prices are generally regarded with concern.”
The study considered the impact environmental constraints had on the three main drivers of land value; productive, consumptive, and speculative values. It found that the relationship between the profitability of the farming operation and land value is not that strong – the other factors also have a direct influence.
Working on the assumption that dairying is currently the highest use of pastoral farming in New Zealand, Journeaux found that dairy land values will be mostly impacted by environmental constraints that affect profitability.
These include reducing diffuse discharges to water with the cost of improving effluent systems, fencing off streams, developing riparian margins and wetlands, putting in feedpads and wintering barns, as well as implementing a range of farm management practice changes.
“The increased cost for farmers to mitigate the discharges and also reduce the flexibility of future land use change both have the potential to impact the price of land significantly.
Journeaux said it was probably also only a matter of time before the Emissions Trading Scheme covered agriculture, meaning that carbon charges in the future were going to be inevitable and costly for farmers.
The impact on farm profitability could therefore be significant, over time, which would feed through to reduced land values.
Journeaux also found in his report that the effect on forestry, under-developed land and sheep and beef land values will also be felt keenly for a number of reasons; the main one being a reduced ability to intensify and/or for conversion to dairy.
“At a national level, the implication of the impact of environmental constraints on land values is that the credit risk of farming, and the credit risk of banks, would be significantly increased,” he said.
“However, this would be a transitional effect with current landowners bearing the brunt of the impact, before a new level of stability was reached.”
Journeaux has been a member of the New Zealand Agricultural and Resource Economics Society for 23 years and on the executive team for 10 years, most recently as Treasurer.
He has two Masters’ degrees: MAgSc (Hons) and an MBA. Phil’s specific areas of skill are economic analysis, risk management/disaster recovery, technology transfer, and water quality issues.
The Farmax Consultant of the Year Awards will be held again in 2016, with nominations opening in May.
Farm software integration progresses21st October 2015
Farm software providers are making progress in responding to drystock farmers’ request for more integration.
A new data link between Farmax feed budgeting software and FarmIQ’s farm management software is the latest development. It means farmers who subscribe to both can now shift figures from their FarmIQ information hub to their Farmax feed planning system.
A 2012 survey by Farmax showed that around 65 per cent of sheep and beef farmers were frustrated by having to separately enter the same data into a number of software programmes. They wanted to see integration between systems.
Farmers are pleased to see the progress being made. Wairarapa farmer Mike McCreary, who runs a finishing operation on 540 ha-effective Kumenga Farm, says it’s a “huge advantage” to have a single point of entry.
“If you have multiple systems, you tend to keep one up-to-date; not all of them.
“Using these two together will give a more full picture of what is happening on the farm - which can be different from just the grass impact, for example.
“I will be able to use the combination to test a thought. I’ll be able to see the impacts of a production scenario on all the aspects of the farm operation and the farm business.
“It’s exciting to see the farm software companies providing integration options for farmers.”
Farmax chief executive Gavin McEwen says it’s about what works for farmers. “The uptake and use of these best-of-breed software systems is dependent on companies like our own collaborating to make them integrate. It increases the value proposition for farmers through reducing the amount of double entry of data required. We hope this is only the beginning and that the scope of the integration will increase over time.”
FarmIQ chief executive Collier Isaacs says the links give farmers the ability to choose what they want.
“This way farmers will be able to put together the best suite of cloud-based software for their farm. There is nothing quite like the FarmIQ System or Farmax Pro, and we’re confident that the combo will be a good solution for many farm managers and farm owners.”
New Farmax Software Releases6th October 2015
Farmax has released new versions of Gen 7 (Cloud) and Gen 6 for both dairy and sheep, beef & deer.
For more information, head to the new releases page.
New Products and Pricing (expanded newsletter article)14th September 2015
Farmax is changing how its products are named, as well as making the pricing simpler and easier to understand.
Farmax is under-utilised. While we are slightly biased, we frequently get feedback from clients telling us that Farmax is an essential component in how they run their businesses. Farmax is a proven tool to help analyse farm businesses, work out the best path forward and then monitor progress against the original plan. Farmax is best business practice!
A few years back we analysed the gross margins of farms using Farmax over eight seasons and compared the results to B+LNZ’s Economic services average gross margins over the same seasons.
The outcome was that on average over those eight seasons the farms using Farmax were $100,000 better off than the average farm each year. It added up to $425 million in additional margin over the eight seasons. Let’s be clear: Farmax is not the only factor involved in that result, but it is a common denominator, and this type of information validates our faith in suggesting there is under-utilisation of Farmax on New Zealand farms.
So, what do we do about it? We have key strategies to promote Farmax including increasing education and awareness; holding more training courses and increasing industry presence; and initiating collaborations and integrations to combine resources and expertise, and remove the burden of double entry of data. Above all this, uniting these areas is a focus on development, ensuring Farmax stays relevant, delivers an excellent value proposition and increases its accessibility and appeal to the multiple customer segments in the pastoral industry that utilise Farmax tools.
Many of our efforts are culminating in the second half of 2015. The first step is the rollout of Farmax Generation 7 or the Farmax Cloud which is currently underway (if you have not yet been upgraded to the Cloud, we will be in touch with you soon). Our friendly HelpDesk team have been assisting customers through the process of upgrading to the new version, and feedback from people who have experienced the new ‘drop box’ like functionality and flexibility has been extremely positive!
The second step and major initiative we are rolling out is a change to our pricing model. Unbelievably, Farmax subscription prices have not gone up in 12 years, while other on-farm costs over that time have risen close to 50%. The good news is that while the price of Farmax subscriptions will change, the overall effect will be negligible: some prices will go up slightly and others will go down.
Our new pricing will be simpler and clear paths will exist to upgrade to additional functionality.
To explain the new pricing, firstly we need to look at the two main uses of the Farmax tools and who utilises them.
FARMAX FOR MODELLING
Farmax is widely used across the pastoral industry to ‘model’ a farm system and then investigate and analyse different scenarios. While Farmax is used in this way by farmers, researchers, students, and others, agricultural consultants are the main user of Farmax in this manner.
Instead of forcing consultants to pay an upfront annual subscription to use Farmax, when the new pricing is implemented it will be the equivalent of a “pay as you go” system. This pay as you go system applies to the product: FARMAX Analysis. FARMAX Analysis allows you to create a Farmax model of a farm entity and do unlimited scenario analysis. Each Farm entity either real or hypothetical that is modelled using Farmax Analysis will incur an annual subscription of $200. Our strong recommendation is that Farmax models should only be created after you have been trained to use Farmax, or by accredited Farmax consultants.
FARMAX FOR MONITORING
The second predominate use of Farmax is monitoring, and this is largely done by farmers. Monitoring functionality or the entering of actual information into a Farmax farm file cannot be done using FARMAX Analysis. To unlock that functionality the user needs to step up to the monitoring range of products. This is where Farmax really comes to the fore in providing the information for proactive tactical and operational decision making on farm within a season. The unique value Farmax provides is the constant ‘reforecasting’ of the likely outcome for the season as actual data is entered throughout the year.
Moving forward, anyone will be able to view (read only) Farmax models, as the Farmax application will be available for download at no charge. The ability to open and view a Farmax model will be granted by the owner of the Farmax farm file. This opens exciting opportunities and possibilities to share the information in Farmax files with other trusted parties. One area we are currently investigating is making Farmax demo farm files available online for public access.
Farmax Lite and Feed Wedge will be available under the same names, for the same price.
FarmIQ Integration8th September 2015
Farmax is excited to announce that an integration with FarmIQ is nearing completion, with final trials of the new software being tested this week.
The integration will enable farmers to transfer stock reconciliation information from FarmIQ into Farmax. This includes data such as sales, births, deaths and pasture covers. The new software with the integration will be available in the next few weeks for Farmax users who have updated to the Cloud.
Farmax Cloud/Generation 7
3rd September 2015
The Farmax team has been busy upgrading people to the new version of Farmax. Generation 7 enables greater efficiency for all users, replacing the current email and website download method, giving greater control and visibility over the status of files in the monthly monitoring process.
File management is more easily controlled by the folder structure, which allows users to clearly identify various files they have for a farm and customise to suit personal preference.
The cloud based file storage ensures files are always up-to-date with the latest Farmax database and price information.
File owners can choose various permission levels for users depending on their role, including read-only capability.
If we haven't updated you to the Cloud yet, we will be contacting you over the next few weeks to step you through the upgrade. If you have any questions in meantime about the Cloud/Generation 7, please feel free to contact the HelpDesk on 0800 327 629.
Consultant of the Year Winners Announced4th August 2015
Congratulations to our three winners:
- DairyNZ Dairy Consultant of the Year, Phil Journeaux
- Beef + Lamb New Zealand Sheep and Beef Consultant of the Year, Sully Alsop
- NZIPIM Emerging Rural Professional of the Year, Lycinda Lett
For more information and photos from the awards eveing, click here.
Consultant of the Year 201515th July 2015
We have had a huge number of nominations for this year's Farmax Consultant of the Year Awards for all three categories: DairyNZ Dairy Consultant of the Year, Beef + Lamb NZ Sheep and Beef Consutlant of the Year, and the NZIPIM Emerging Rural Professional of the Year.
It is great to see the value that farmers and other industry persons see in agricultural consultants and rural professionals, and Farmax is proud to recognise their achievements.
Finalists for each award will be announced soon. The winners will be annouced at the NZIPIM conference in Asburton on the 3rd of August. For more details about the conference, head to www.nzipim.co.nz
Farmax Awards $10,000 in Scholarships2nd July 2015 Left photo: L-R - Ben Howard recieving the scholarship from Gavin, Farmax manager. Right photo: Simon James
Two agricultural science students have recently been awarded a combined total of $10,000 by FARMAX to help them along in their careers.
Fourth year Lincoln University student Simon James’ honours’ project that investigates the integration of crops on New Zealand dairy farms for supplementary feed during lactation, won him the $5000 scholarship.
“There is increasing interest in the use of fodder crops to increase dry matter production and reduce nitrate leaching,” said 21-year-old Canterbury man James.
“My research will be into the use of maize silage in rotation with whole-crop cereal silage as part of a pasture renewal programme on the Lincoln University Dairy Farm, as well as the merits of using fodder beet on the milking platform.”
James said he used the FARMAX system for modelling the cost of production and to compare the different pasture systems.
James’ career aspirations are to run a farm, which he says having not come from a farming background, could put him on the back foot, but that he is determined and motivated to make it happen.
He will use the $5000 towards that business goal, having worked hard and saved sufficient money to bypass accruing a student loan.
“I was really stoked to find out I had won the scholarship. It’s a lot of money for a student and will be useful to achieving my career goals.”
James starts his first farming job on a 1350 cow dairy farm in North Canterbury after he finishes studying, in November 2015.
Massey University honours’ student Benjamin Howard also received $5000 from FARMAX. His honours research involves developing a system that allows farmers to predict the amount of metabolisable energy in pasture so they can create suitable feed budgets and regimes.
He says he needs to measure the loss in sugar from the time of harvest to the time of analysis. The inspiration for his research came from growing up on his parent’s dairy farm in Whakatane.
“I have always been curious about how things work and how we can refine aspects of a system to sustainably optimise production.”
FARMAX scholarships were developed to encourage the next generation of ag scientists and rural professionals to maintain a high quality and breadth of research for the sector.
Welcome Aboard to Two New Team Members12th June 2015
L-R: Victoria and Poppy
As we farewell Steven and Matt from the team and wish them well in their new endeavours, we are excited to welcome two new technical specialists to FARMAX.
Poppy Frater re-joins us from Northern England, after she interned with us for three months earlier this year.
At just 28 years old, Frater is passionate about the science behind the FARMAX system and is well schooled in the field of pastoral science. She grew up on a sheep, beef and arable farm in Northumberland and says with her upbringing came a passion and interest in animals and the environment, which eventually turned into a fascination with food production.
Before arriving in New Zealand in January, Frater worked in research and development at Eblex (the UK equivalent of Beef + Lamb NZ) for two-and-a-half years.
“I am a huge believer in the software; in fact a lot of what I did in the UK was encouraging farmers to use FARMAX,” said Poppy.
“I particularly enjoy translating the messages we learn through science back to farmers so that they understand the gains that can be made, and therefore improve their operations.
“I’m excited by the potential for enhancement to the model and to improve my training skills, in the hope that I can increase the capability of consultants using the software.”
Also having recently joined the team is Victoria Hamlin, 29, from Central Hawke’s Bay. Victoria started in her role with FARMAX earlier this month, from Beef + Lamb NZ where she worked as a farm programme coordinator.
Victoria says she was looking for a change and to gain experience with a commercial organisation. She is looking forward to meeting FARMAX customers more and more over the coming months.
What are our 2014 Consultants of the Year up to?5th June 2015
Last year’s winners were Wairarapa consultant Chris Lewis, Canterbury consultant Wayne Allan and Hawke’s Bay’s Abron consultant Hannah Best.
Allan, who has his own consulting company, won the Sheep and Beef Consultant of the Year and is part way through his project that looks at understanding seasonal returns from sheep and deer, and feeding on those margins to increase overall profitability.
He says winning the Farmax award has been great for his profile and that he plans to attend the International Farm Management Association Congress in Quebec, Canada in July.
2014 Dairy Consultant of the Year Chris Lewis has completed his research, having received 70 replies to his survey, which he says is a testament to the respect those in the industry have for the awards and his project.
Lewis’ project was around gauging consultant’s perceptions of environmental indices, where consultants are getting their information from currently, and what changes and opportunities they see necessary to improve this suite of tools going forward.
Hannah Best, who was named Emerging Rural Professional in last year’s awards, has recently moved on from Abron to take on a business extension role with Ballance Agri-Nutrients. She has collected the data for her project, which is trialling an inoculum product on New Zealand farms that is currently not being used commercially in New Zealand, to establish appropriate application methods and ideal application rates.
She said Abron is collecting more data on the trial in other crops in different parts of New Zealand.
Great Turn-out at the FARMAX Conference13th May 2015
The Farmax Conference was held in Wellington on the 7th and 8th of May and proved to be a very successful event.
We had presentations from key industry representatives, including Hon. Nathan Guy, Caroline Read, Scott Champion and Graeme Mulligan. Five different training streams, each catering to a specific level of knowledge and farming type were held, with attendees looking at the basics of Farmax, starting the new accreditation process and analyisng complex farm systems. Photos from the event can be found here and speaker presentations will be uploaded here (not all presentations have been recieved yet).
If you have any feedback about our conference, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com or on 0800 327 629. Thank you to all our speakers and everyone that attended.
FARMAX from a Sheep and Beef Scientist's Perspective12th March 2015
Poppy Frater is a Beef and Sheep Scientist from the beef and lamb levy board in England (EBLEX). She is involved in commissioning research projects relevant to English beef and sheep farmers and then translating the science findings back to industry. She has spent two and half months with Farmax to gain first-hand experience of how technology based on science can support industry development and enhance science transfer.
Models are a fundamental element of science. From understanding the effects of climate change to managing fishery stocks, the models help fill a knowledge gap to make an informed decision. As the science develops, the models are either refined or replaced. At Farmax, this continual refinement is clear – the company is driven to keep the model aligned with the latest science while improving usability.
One aspect I investigated while with Farmax was the feed intake equations. As a farm-level tool, the challenge lies in improving the model in the light of the latest science without compromising this scope. At a farm-level there is room for error; we don’t know everything about the complex herbivore-pasture interaction, but the model can be reasonably accurate. It is not designed for greater resolution, such as the field-level, so accounting for different feed intake patterns throughout the day, for example, is not relevant. However, research from CSIRO in Australia shows that the model can be improved by accounting for other aspects such as land type and gender. Therefore, Farmax will invest in improving the feed intake equations for greater accuracy.
In the absence of any similar model in the UK, UK farmers are increasingly making enquiries to Farmax. The main shortfall of Farmax in the UK arises when animals are housed. Since you cannot remove a mob from the pasture and feed solely supplements, they may continue to affect the pasture covers, so I have been considering how we could overcome this to meet their needs better.
There is a lot to consider in pasture-based farming, but this period with Farmax has provided a good insight into how the all the components fit together – this is important, not only to the farm management, but to new research and policy, as any recommendation needs to consider the whole farm business sustainability, not just elements of it.
By Poppy Frater
FARMAX Conference24th February 2015
Registrations for the 2015 FARMAX Conference are now open. Click here to register.
Farm system analysis and monitoring of performance is becoming increasingly accepted as best practice for New Zealand pastoral farmers to engage with the challenges that lie ahead.
The FARMAX conference will address the increasing demand for knowledge about the utilisation of decision support tools like FARMAX.
It will be focused on enhancing FARMAX skills and will include three separate streams to accommodate different levels of knowledge: introductory, bootcamp/accreditation and advanced analysis. There will also be different groups for dairy and sheep, beef and deer.
Attendees will be given the opportunity to become FARMAX accredited at the conference.
All consultants whether or not they use FARMAX, are invited. Farmers and industry professionals who use FARMAX or who want to use FARMAX are also welcome to attend.
Confirmed guest speakers include:
- Honourable Nathan Guy, Minister for Primary Industries
- Dr. Scott Champion, CEO, Beef + Lamb New Zealand
- Dr. Caroline Read, General Manager, OVERSEER
- Graeme Mulligan, General Manager - Farm Operations, Landcorp
AbacusBio Farm System Review17th February 2015
AbacusBio has created a farm anlaysis and management programme that utilises FARMAX. They are calling these Farm System Reviews which are periodic reviews of the whole farm operation. They will look at the overall business financial performance and the owners’ objectives to gain understanding, and then primarily focus on an analysis of the farm physical performance and how this can be improved in line with the objectives. For more information click here.
FARMAX Supports Resilient Farmer29th January 2015
FARMAX is excited to be supporting Doug Avery's Resilient Farmer - a series of events held all over New Zealand to help ensure that farmer's are ready for tomorrow's challenges. To find out more or to book tickets, go to the Resilient Farmer website.
Training Courses27th January 2015
FARMAX 2015 training courses kick off next month, with the first Farm Business Planning Course in Hamilton on the 26th of February. In March, there will be Farm Business Planning courses from Whangarei to Gore - check the training calendar for locations, dates and details. For more information about these courses or to register, email training manager, Julia, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
14-15 Summer Newsletter12th January 2015
The FARMAX Advantage summer newsletter is out now. Take a look at a case study on AgResearch's Ronaldo Vibart, hearing how he uses FARMAX for a scientific and research agenda. This newsletter also includes stories about the FARMAX - Ag Hub integration, the new FARMAX Massey scholarship and the 2015 Consultant Conference.
Cloud Release9th December 2014
Over the past few months we have been re-developing the FARMAX infrastructure to be fully cloud-based. This is an exciting development as it modernises and simplifies the FARMAX programmes and gives our users more access and control of their farm files. The first release of the cloud software will occur in January next year. More information about the release and how it will benefit you will be available soon.
Holiday Closure3rd December 2014
FARMAX will be closing for a short period over the holiday season. The HelpDesk will close at 12noon on Wednesday 24 December 2014 and reopen at 7.30am on Monday 5 January 2015. If you have any FARMAX emergencies over this period, you can call Julia Hoddinott on 021 432 341. Please be sure to send your December files in before 24 December if you would like them to be loaded before the end of the year.
Training Courses26th November 2014
FARMAX training courses have finished for 2014. In total, we held almost 50 courses in 12 locations throughout the country. Next year, there will be even more courses, including several new ones that our training manager, Julia Hoddinott, has been trialling this year. The 2015 courses are scheduled to begin in March next year, starting with Napier and Gisborne.
FARMAX Massey Scholarship11th November 2014
Applications are now open for the 2015 round of the FARMAX Massey Scholarship. The scholarship, which is worth $5,000, aims to support postgraduate students in research that involves the use of FARMAX. Click here to find out more and apply.
Annual Benchmarking Reports5th November 2014
FARMAX has completed all physical annual benchmarking reports for the 2013-2014 year. In the next few weeks, all financial reports will be completed as well. If you are signed up to receive annual reports, your individual farm data will be compared against the top 20% and group averages of all the farms in your category. For physical reports, this is based on the gross margin return per kg of potential pasture production. For the financial reports, it is based on the economic farm surplus per kg of potential pasture production. This data can be used to gauge how much potential there is to increase your farm performance. The performance from previous years is also included so that different years can be compared. If you would like to sign up to receive annual reports for the 2014-2015 year, please contact FARMAX Support on 0800 327 629.
New FARMAX Team Member24th October 2014
We are excited to welcome Kate Cromie to the FARMAX team! Kate is currently finishing her agricultural IT degree at Lincoln University and will be moving up to Hamilton at the start of next month. She will start her role as HelpDesk support and technical specialist on the 15th of November. We look forward to working alongside her!
FARMAX Massey Scholarship15th October 2014
FARMAX has created a brand new scholarship for agricultural students at Massey University. The $5,000 annual scholarship will support postgraduate students whose research involves the use of FARMAX. The first scholarship will be available in 2015. For more information, please contact email@example.com.
New Training Courses13th October 2014
FARMAX training manager, Julia Hoddinott, has been developing new FARMAX training courses for 2015. These courses will be very beneficial for new and existing FARMAX users and include such courses as Farm Business Planning, Benchmarking and Business KPIs, and Enterprise and Farm Systems Analysis. Julia has been testing the courses with customers and so far the feedback has been great. We will be sure to keep you updated on when the new courses will be available, but in the meatime, contact Julia for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FARMAX Info Pack2nd October 2014
FARMAX has recently created a new suite of marketing materials including case studies, brochures and information sheets. These are particularly useful for consultants to give to prospective FARMAX clients. Anyone can download these materials here or you can contact the FARMAX HelpDesk to have printed versions of the materials mailed to you.
1st October 2014
The first part of an integration between FARMAX and AgHub is underway. Pasture cover measurements calculated in the AgHub software, can now be transferred into FARMAX, aligning your farming information and saving you time. The second part of the integration will allow plate meter and feed reader information to be transferred into FARMAX. Watch this space!
Horizons Benchmarking Pilot26th September 2014
An initiative between AgFirst Northland, FARMAX, ANZ and Ballance has begun, which promises to further the potential and value of agricultural benchmarking. The Horizons Benchmarking pilot is underway with a trial group of 10 Northland farms. Physical and financial farm information is run through FARMAX and then analysed, providing past, present and future benchmarking data. For more information about this initiative, please contact Steve Howarth at email@example.com
FARMAX First to Adopt Farm Data Code of Practice24th September 2014
FARMAX is the first company in New Zealand to begin the Farm Data Code of Practice accreditation process.
Launched in June, the Farm Data Code of Practice outlines steps organisations must take to safeguard farmers’ data and ensure information is stored and shared in the most secure way possible.
By adopting and implementing the Farm Data Code of Practice, FARMAX general manager Gavin McEwen said the company will assure farming clients that their data is managed in a responsible way.
“Compliance with the Code of Practice will show that we are committed to furthering the use of information technology-based solutions in the industry. We believe the guidelines set out within the Code of Practice will eventually lead to greater confidence from farmers in how FARMAX handles their data,” he said.
McEwen said the way data supports better decision making on farms is increasingly important for those operating in the rural sector.
“More so than ever before, we live in an environment where data is an essential element of the farming business, and seamless exchange of data between systems will soon be the norm.”
While FARMAX already meets many of the requirements of the Farm Data Code of Practice, the company worked through a self-assessment and also signed a statutory declaration of compliance to prove its systems and processes are compliant.
An independent review panel will assess FARMAX’s application and then certify the company as compliant.
Training Survey22nd September 2014
Thank you to everyone who participated in the FARMAX Training Survey over the last few weeks. The information you have provided is very valuable, as it will help us design new training courses that are customised to your needs.
Congratulations to Terry Parminter who won a week's worth of barista coffee from Wild Bean Cafe for filling out the survey.
We will be sure to keep you updated about new training courses, but in the meantime, please feel free to contact us if you have any ideas or questions about training.
Cloud Pilot17th September 2014
FARMAX has developed a cloud version of Pro which will revolutionise the FARMAX software. Having a cloud-based system will mean that customers can download their farm files at any time of the month and will have full visibility of who has updated their file and when. This cloud version is currently being piloted with some FARMAX customers…watch this space!
Putting the Pasture Growth Forecaster to Use in Spring15th September 2014
Click here to read an article by Andrew Cooke from Rezare, about using FARMAX's Pasture Growth Forecaster.
FARMAX Internship15th September 2014
FARMAX is looking for a Lincoln or Massey University student to join FARMAX over the summer as part of a paid internship. In the internship, the student will have the opportunity to learn about the FARMAX software, business development, marketing and agricultural information technology. For more information about the internship, please contact Gavin McEwen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Applications close on the 3rd of October.
Positive Outlook for Spring10th September 2014
BY STEVE HOWARTH
The calendar has just rolled over to September, marking the official start of spring. The daffodils are out and soil temperatures are generally on the up, so has spring arrived?
Looking back over winter the weather has been far from ‘average’. For most of the East Coast and Northland, June and part of July were a dream run with mild temperatures, stock in good condition and achieving growth rates, and plenty of feed around. FARMAX clients across Northland, Gisborne and Hawkes Bay had pasture covers 100-300kg DM/ha higher than July 2013 – sentiment was upbeat.
However, Mother Nature was not finished with winter. Early July brought widespread flooding and strong winds to Northland. The East Coast didn’t escape lightly either, with a cold-snap passing through during August, knocking down soil temps, pasture growth and stock performance.
Typically over July and August, pasture covers are close to bottoming out as farmers look to scrape through to balance date when the spring flush takes off. Thanks to the floods and cold snap, FARMAX customers found that covers dropped a further 100kg DM/ha, putting more pressure on a key time of the year when feeding levels are already tight.
Combining the good early winter with the rough late winter what does that mean for farms now? Comparing feed levels for August with the same time last winter, FARMAX customers in Northland are generally sitting ok with more feed than a year ago, and Gisborne and Hawke's Bay are very similar to the previous winter. We expect this trend to continue into September.
Looking forward to spring, things are looking up and we are all hoping the market and climate stars will align for a good season. NIWA is predicting the chances of El Nino developing over spring ‘appear to be lessening’ and the chances of above average temperatures over August to October ‘are likely to be above average’. Considering August temperatures have been below average surely this means September and October will be well above average – good conditions for lambing! Soil temperatures across Northland and Hawke's Bay are sitting above nine degrees, so expect to see pasture growth kicking in soon!
The outlook for beef and lamb prices are also looking positive. At the time of writing the beef schedule is sitting on $5.15/kg, well above previous year’s levels of low to mid $4/kg. Lamb pricing is also on the up, after the spike in pricing over 2011 and the following drop, pricing is recovering well sitting at $6.20/kg currently, which we hope is a more sustainable price for farmer and end consumers.
After the rough late winter conditions are looking up, warm weather coupled with good pricing. As the saying goes ‘make hay while the sun shines’.
2015 FARMAX Consultants Conference4th September 2014
The 2015 FARMAX Consultants Conference will be held in Wellington on the 7th and 8th of May. Next year’s conference will be more focused on training and will include three separate streams: introductory FARMAX training, advanced Dairy Pro analysis and advanced Sheep, Beef and Deer Pro analysis. Consultants will also be given the opportunity to become FARMAX Accredited at the conference.
All consultants whether or not they use FARMAX, are invited. Farmers and industry professionals who use FARMAX or who want to use FARMAX are also welcome to attend.
We will keep you updated on the conference schedule, guest speakers and how to register, but for the time being, make sure you save the date!
Australasian Dairy Science Symposium1st September 2014
FARMAX is excited to be sponsoring the Australasian Dairy Science Symposium, which is being held in Hamilton from the 19th to 21st November this year. The Symposium is a key event in both the New Zealand and Australian dairy calendars, as it is an ideal place to exchange ideas, gain new knowledge and make connections in the dairy industry.
If you will be attending the conference, be sure to come and visit our stand. We look forward to seeing you there!
Massey and Lincoln University Training17th August 2014
Each year, we hold introductory FARMAX courses for students at Massey and Lincoln Universities and this year we had a huge 85 students take part! We have also developed a special version of the FARMAX software that can be used on all Massey and Lincoln University computers. This gives students the opportunity to learn FARMAX at no cost, giving them an early advantage on their way into the agricultural industry.
Farmers' Choice Award7th August 2014
The Farmers’ Choice Award was introduced to the FARMAX Consultant of the Year Awards this year, and it went to consultant Rachel Joblin from Stantiall and Partners based in Feilding and Richard Greaves, a sheep and beef farmer from Hawkes Bay. They both received NZX Agri subscriptions and FARMAX products and services.
FARMAX Consultant of the Year Awards5th August 2014
Left to right: Wayne Allan, Hannah Best and Chris Lewis
This year marked the second FARMAX Consultant of the Year Awards, which were held in conjunction with the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industries Management annual conference in Hamilton.
A shared passion for achieving profitable and successful farming operations saw three top consultants win the awards.
Soil nutritionist Hannah Best from Hawke’s Bay picked up the Emerging Rural Professional of the Year Award, while Canterbury rural consultant Wayne Allan won Sheep and Beef Consultant of the Year and Chris Lewis from the Wairarapa won Dairy Consultant of the Year.
The FARMAX team were incredibly impressed with the quality and calibre of nominations put forward for this year’s awards and thanked those who took the time to nominate their consultants and colleagues.
Sponsored by DairyNZ, Beef + Lamb NZ, MPI, NZIPIM and NZX Agri, the awards were open to all agricultural consultants and a prize pool of $20,000 was up for grabs, including:
- a paid overseas study trip
- professional development funds; and
- paid hours off work to complete a project or initiative that will be of benefit to the pastoral farming industry
Federated Farmers Gisborne/Wairoa Hill Country Farmer of the Year30th July 2014
Congratulations to FARMAX users Rob and Karen Newman who won Federated Farmers Farmer of the Year in the Gisborne/Wairoa Hill Country category. At a fielday celebrating their win, it was clear why Rob and Karen received the award, after working hard on their farm for seven years they have made significant progress towards making the farm a more profitable and sustainable business.
Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards23rd July 2014
FARMAX was proud to support the Bay of Plenty Dairy Industry Awards by sponsoring the prize for Sharemilker/Equity Farmer of the Year 2014. Congratulations to Brett and Natasha Grindrod who won the award.