Monitoring ensures no surprises
Waikato farm consultant Brendan Brier believes lessons learned from the Waikato/ Franklin Beef+Lamb New Zealand monitor farm are easily transferred to most sheep and beef operations.
‘‘ Monitor farms provide a valuable template for family farms wanting to instil greater structure and direction around the business and can be accessed by all farmers,’’ Mr Brier said.
Mr Brier has led the Waikato/ Franklin Beef+ Lamb monitor farm on behalf of the Waikato Innovation Park for the past three years.
The 450ha hill country moni- tor farm owned by the Bodley family between Naike and Matira was hit hard early on in its ownership by the 2010 record-breaking.
This saw the farm receive less than 200mm of rain over a four months from December 2009, a record low for the region.
But having monitoring programmes in place helped bring a ‘‘no surprises’’ outcome with the worst of the drought, which Mr Brier estimates cost the farm around $100,000.
This was thanks to close pasture assessment and modelling that information using Farmax software to help predict how great the feed deficit was likely to be. Even though the drought’s severity meant predictions on feed levels were still above the reality, they at least indicated early when to start buying in extra feed over autumn to get through winter.
Mr Brier said a key part of monitoring the farm’s management had to include identifying what outcome was wanted.
‘‘ This involves having objectives that are SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time bound.’’
Benchmark figures (be they physical, financial or personal) set around those objectives lets farmers know when they have been achieved.