Beef+Lamb NZ keen to lease or partner to showcase technologies

Farmers at a Beef+Lamb NZ body conditioning scoring workshop where they try their hand at condition scoring ewes at ...
MURRAY WILSON/STUFF

Farmers at a Beef+Lamb NZ body conditioning scoring workshop where they try their hand at condition scoring ewes at Broadlands Station near Ashhurst.

Beef+Lamb NZ is looking for a farmer who is prepared to lease or partner with it in a project to showcase best practice and explore leading edge technologies.

The farmer should be an existing one with at least 6000 stock units who could be at an "age or stage" where he or she is prepared to take part in an endeavour for three to five years to improve the performance of  New Zealand sheep and beef farms.

It is the first time such a project has been mooted for a sheep and beef property in New Zealand, said Richard Wakelin, Beef+Lamb NZ's general manager for innovation.

Beef + Lamb NZ general manager for innovation Richard Wakelin says the farm will test technologies and provide pointers ...

Beef + Lamb NZ general manager for innovation Richard Wakelin says the farm will test technologies and provide pointers to best practice in the future.

It was similar to the Lincoln University Dairy Unit, which has pioneered the commercial application of new technologies and systems.

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"It's not a model or demonstration farm, and it's not a place for prototyping. It's the sort of farm where new-to-market, leading edge technologies will be put into practice."

"Originally we were talking about leasing but then we thought there might be a farmer who could be at the stage of life where they are looking differently at their farming operation and would want to partner with us," Wakelin said.

"We're open minded. We're not looking to be in the market to purchase, but we welcome ideas people have on how we could structure an arrangement. The key is the right farm with the right people around it."

Beef+Lamb NZ had decided to describe it as a "Future Farm". It would be a property to test new farming systems and technologies that might be unproven or too higher risk for most farmers, but they could then assess the feasibility of applying it themselves.

Its focus would be based on a "three-legged stool" approach: how to run a well performing farm profitably, while maintaining good environmental performance.

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Regarding funding the venture, Wakelin said the farming operation should be self-funding, while investment would partially come from some of the existing research budget.

He could not give a figure for the budget before the farmer and location had been identified.

The project would be less about demonstrating the farmer but more about the farm practices, such as animal welfare, stock handling, business, pasture and environmental management.

"One of the things the research about high performing farmers uncovered was they weren't necessarily excellent at everything but they were very good at a lot of things," Wakelin said.

Other than Lincoln's dairy unit, he pointed to Australia's University of New England's successful Smartfarm as another example.

Beef+Lamb NZ is working with agribusiness company AbacusBio to establish the project. An innovation and advisory team will be set up to guide implementation, and government, research organisations, and commercial partners will be invited for their expertise and resources.

 - Stuff

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