Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Editorial – Sharing the knowledge

It’s well known that dairy farmers gain a great deal of information from talking to each other. Whether they’re discussing the present season’s production, the dry weather that much of the upper North Island has been experiencing or a fundamental change in farm management, such as upping the percentage of supplements coming on to the property, chances are they’ll talk about it with other farmers. Those they sound out might be neighbours, friends in other areas or a farmer they know might have some information relevant to their situation. It’s central to the information-sharing approach of the New Zealand dairy industry that’s so envied by those overseas, but sometimes it gets overlooked as on-farm demands become greater and there’s not the time to get away to conferences or discussion groups.

To give what’s been a largely informal approach a bit more backing, it’s great to see a new DairyNZ initiative, DairyConnect, getting under way. It aims to put farmers in touch with each other in a short-term arrangement, which will encourage the sharing of information and experiences about a particular farm decision or topic.

Farmer network leader Ian Tarbotton said interviews with a number of North Island farmers showed many wanted to share ideas and experiences with their counterparts, because they didn’t want to see others making the same mistakes they had when adopting a new practice. The study also found farmers who were often looking to make changes in just one part of their business but were not discussing this with farmers who had “been there and done that”.  

“We saw the gap and so are now actively connecting farmers on specific topics, eg, growing crops, feed-pads and people management,” he said. 

The wider aim is to improve the level of connectedness among farmers generally and a second phase of the programme will involve DairyNZ working with the SMASH group of smaller operators.

Farmers who think they might benefit from being involved can email their details to dairyconnect@dairynz.co.nz, phone 0800 4 DairyNZ (0800 4 324 7969) or contact their local DairyNZ consulting officer.

And farmers considering wintering options need look no further for the best advice UK and Irish farmers have to offer than our feature starting on page 56.

Glenys

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