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Demo farm conference 2015 offers new insights

The 2015 Beef + Lamb New Zealand demonstration farm conference has seen a great turnout of farmers – with special guests from the Red Meat Profit Partnership and UMR Research.

Held in Christchurch, the two-day July conference had an interesting lineup of demonstration farmers sharing an overview of their projects, Scott Champion from Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) speaking on the levy referendum, as well as Marc Elliot from UMR Research presenting survey results on the key differences between high-performing and low-performing farmers.

This year, the conference also included a field trip to PGG Wrightson’s Kimihia research station, where Glen Judson and Allister Moorhead showed attendees around the facility and some trial plots.

“The purpose of this visit was to demonstrate some of the innovative ideas and practices that are being carried out within the pasture and forage seed breeding industries – which aligns very well with the main objectives of the B+LNZ demonstration farm programme,” AbacusBio consultant Luke Proctor says.

“The feedback we received from the visit was really positive. Attendees found it very interesting, and engaged deeply with the thought-provoking presentations.”

After the Kimihia visit, conference participants visited Lincoln University Dairy Farm, where farm manager Peter Hancox shared an overview of the farm and current production levels.

He also discussed the challenges of “continually being in the spotlight” from a farmer’s perspective, where production data and details are made publicly available – which resonated well with the demonstration farmers.

AbacusBio farm consultant Simon Glennie explains, “when farmers enter the programme, they are inadvertently thrust into the public eye, which can be quite daunting”.

“However, the approach of sharing these data is crucial for the industry to be able to move forward and thrive together.”

AbacusBio IT consultant Mark Teviotdale also gave a presentation, describing his work with New Zealand King Salmon to integrate technology and improve efficiency and drive profitability.

“Seeing data being integrated and used in other industries is an interesting way of evaluating what can be done in the sheep and beef industry,” AbacusBio consultant Nadia McLean says.

The conference ended on an inspiring note with a well-received presentation from Jack Cocks of Mount Nicholas station near Queenstown – on personal and industry challenges related to farming.

“Overall feedback from the programme showed that attendees really enjoy the opportunity to come together and get involved in robust discussions with like-minded people on an annual basis,” Nadia says.

The consensus of demonstration farmers was that, “it was a really fun learning experience and a great privilege to hear from speakers on relevant issues – which we can take away as learning to be put into practice”.

Nadia, Luke, and Simon, who are contracted to provide project management and science extension support, also found it really satisfying to see participants grow in confidence throughout their time in the programme.

“New Zealand has always been a world leader in farming innovation. This programme brings together farmers and scientists to help set the bar even higher.”

For more information about the B+LNZ demonstration farm programme and upcoming conferences, visit www. beefl ambnz.com/farm/project-farms/ demonstration-farms