‘Lean management’ is farm’s new catchcry

The Lincoln University Dairy Farm is seeking "lean management" as it looks to the future.

The South Island Dairying Development Centre (SIDDC), which oversees the management of the farm in partnership with the university, has been reviewing the management structure since the departure of former executive director Ron Pellow in 2018.

Macfarlane Rural Business consultant Jeremy Savage has been working alongside farm manager Peter Hancox as the farm's consultant since November 2018 and has changed roles to be the demonstration lead, with his colleague Trevor Gee taking over as farm consultant.

"LUDF is going to continue with this structure for another 12 months under SIDDC," Mr Savage said.

"Our goal is to improve efficiency around the catchcry of ‘lean management'. Our cost structures are still stubbornly high.

"When analysing our strategy, we have looked at improving efficiencies with staff and the way we run the property to improve our structures."

The farm had been running the 566 cows in two herds, but now planned to run a single herd, which would require just one person for milking.

Staffing levels have been reduced from four full-time staff down to three, with casual staff called on as required.

However, Mr Savage said he was conscious of farm manager Peter Hancox's "heavy workload", particularly around public engagement.

"We will be providing more support around the demonstration side of things with support from the university and SIDDC, to free Peter up a bit more."

Going forward, LUDF would "keep focusing on our environmental footprint" and SIDDC was developing a vision of what the farm will look like in 2030.

"It's a big piece of work and we expect to see an update on that later in the year," Mr Savage said.

This year, LUDF planned to continue with its online sessions of the first and third Tuesdays of the month, which were started last year after Covid-19 prevented it from hosting its seasonal focus days.

The focus days were also returning, with the first one being held at Balmaghie Farm, near Ashburton, on Tuesday, February 23, from 10.15am.

Mr Savage hoped LUDF could open up for the next focus day in May, then "reignite" the winter seminar series in partnership with DairyNZ in July.

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