I had the pleasure of being able to attend the LIC “Mind the Profit Gap” dairy conference, on the 16th of October, being from an organic suckler beef farm I did question if the conference would be relevant however I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn. There were many things to muse over from the day on the long trip home from Stoneleigh, not only just how far our little corner of the country is away from everywhere which does have its perks, granted, however travel time is not one of them!
Government legislation now in NZ regulating leaching and run-off at farm catchment level looks certain to be implemented here in the coming 5-10 years. Lincoln University Dairy Research farm has tackled this head on, reducing stocking rate to increase grass fed to cows and reducing inputs of concentrate and nitrogen. This has maintained profit/ha whilst allowing them to remain within limits. Systems that are closer to 100% pasture based look to have real potential going forward.
There were more fantastic and fascinating speakers throughout the day, a real highlight for me was Matthew Jackson, a 1st generation dairy farmer from Wales who originated from a council estate in Manchester, he has built up a large profitable dairy business from the ground up in little over 15 years, not bad for someone who left school without a GCSE at 16! The main point I took away from his session, was to keep pushing forward even when you feel you are being pushed back, something that I think we all need to be mindful of when there is a lot of negative press surrounding agriculture especially livestock production.
It was great to surrounded by so many enthusiastic farmers that really see a future in our industry, I must say I did return home inspired by the day and ready for what the future has in store for us!! (As I write this we have had 85mm of rain in the last week, which was not what I had in mind)
Useful Links: Lincoln University Dairy Farm: http://www.siddc.org.nz/lu-dairy-farm/