Dairy event run by farmers for farmers

Jonathon and Stacey Hoets are equity managers on a Hinds farm owned with another family. He has ...
Jonathon and Stacey Hoets are equity managers on a Hinds farm owned with another family. He has found time to lead the organising committee for the three-day South Island Dairy Event (Side) at Lincoln University. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A near full house has 300 dairy farmers signed up for the three-day South Island Dairy Event (Side) at Lincoln University next week.

A lineup of speakers will include Fonterra chief science and technology officer Jeremy Hill, an inventor of more than 20 patents for dairy science and other products.

Best-selling author Dan Pronk will talk about wellbeing based on his SAS experience serving 100-plus combat missions in Afghanistan as a frontline special operations doctor and being helpless to save some of his friends in their final moments.

Day one will start with a field trip on Monday to Ashley Dene and the Lincoln University Research Farm, where a lineup of university and Dairy NZ speakers will cover a new healthy farm project, low nitrogen systems and plantain grazing to cut nitrogen losses.

Profs Keith Cameron and Hong Di will update farmers on the progress of EcoPond effluent treatment technology being developed by the university and Ravensdown to help reduce farm methane emissions and the risk of phosphate and E. coli losses into the water.

Side organising committee chairman Jonathon Hoets said the dairy event was virtually booked out, which showed it was rated by farmers.

About 80 farmers are attending the field day and it is a good opportunity to visit the research farms.

"Through their levy they are paying some of the research and it will be a good way to see some of the new technology they are trialling. That’s what those farms are designed for — to trial some of that science and innovation and hopefully a couple of years down the track it becomes a product farmers can use on their farms.

Mr Hoets runs about 780 cows at Hinds, just south of Ashburton, in an equity partnership with another family.

He said the Side agenda had something for everyone.

"We’ve really tried to develop the programme and you will see from the agenda about tackling this issues and giving farmers solutions and tips and tricks."

Workshops over the next two days will look at succession planning, irrigation efficiency, winter grazing regulations, breeding cows for the future, the minefield of contracts, finding a viable option for bobby calves and financial freedom.

One session will delve into farm accidents and the insights of an emergency service paramedic who sees the ugly side of good policy not being followed on farms.

Mr Hoets said it was a hot topic, but health and safety was not always the easiest session to run so they had brought in people who had gone through accidents.

"I’m part of the local fire brigade and have seen some of those accidents. It’s a no-bull.... talk on people who’ve had an accident 15-odd years ago and serious harm and lifelong injuries and then trying to learn from that and help other farmers."

A farmer panel will share the results of catchment group work in Hinds and Selwyn combining science solutions and farmer learning to work out strategies to reduce nitrogen losses over a five-year project ending last year.

Lessons along the way will be delivered on the main changes, the impact on nitrogen loss and profit, and the changes needed in farm management.

Mr Hoets said the workshop for non-replacement stock was being run again as it was a topical issue.

This would look at how to use beef genetics, reduce bobby calf numbers and get them to the beef market and outlets such as Pearl Veal, he said.

"It’s something we’ve been working on for a couple of years now and they’ve just come to the forefront and it’s good to get people along to show farmers what options are available.

Mr Hoets said he put his hand up as chairman because he had been involved with Side in the past.

"It’s a conference run by farmers and everyone on the committee is involved in farming and we really develop the programme for farming and then we’ve got the BrightSide for up-and-comers."



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