Mon­i­tor­ing en­sures no sur­prises

South Waikato News - - OPINION/NEWS -

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.

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