Big interest in focus farm

SUE O'DOWD
Last updated 08:11 11/10/2012

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The Taranaki focus farm at Tariki is ideal for a discussion on the management of wet soils.

In the 12 months to the end of September received more than three metres of rain.

Ravensdown scientist Ants Roberts, aka Dr Dirt, will talk about managing wet soils to maximise pasture production at DairyNZ's focus farm field day on Wednesday.

The field day at Chris and Kathy Prankerd's farm is the fourth since DairyNZ established the focus farm as a three-year project at the start of last season.

PGG Wrightson forage agronomist Nicole Morris will review the kale and swede crop grazed during the winter and Inglewood veterinarian Jonathan Spencer will review the herd's reproductive performance.

The farm's governance committee will update the project and discuss targets.

Midhirst dairy farmer and chairman Matt Roberts said last season was a learning curve for everyone involved in the project.

Pasture growth and herd performance had been monitored and recorded, so benchmarks had been set.

"We've prepared the structure and we're now building on that base. We'll be able to grow more pasture, manage it and get the cows performing well."

Roberts said the project was being closely followed in the dairy industry and he expected valuable information to be gathered this year.

The other members of the governance committee are Hayden Lawrence, of Eltham, Bede Kissick, of Kaponga, and new member Greg Topless, of Mahoe, who was Taranaki Sharemilker of the Year in 2010 with his wife, Hannah.

A management committee oversees the day-to-day operation of the farm and consists of DairyNZ consulting officer Shirley Kissick, DairyNZ regional team leader Katrina Knowles, Inglewood dairy farmer and jersey breeder Peter Ayles and Inglewood vet Jonathan Spencer.

The project is widely followed in Taranaki, New Zealand and overseas.

A fortnightly newsletter detailing the farm's performance is emailed to 1800 New Zealand farmers and rural professionals, as well as to people in Japan, the United States and Australia.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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