October 2016

Farming for Profit

The more I talk to farmers the more I treasure our efficient and world leading grass fed farming methods. We often have people who visit from other countries who say we should stick with it and how they wish they could do the same if only their harsh winter weather would allow them to do so.

I hasten to add that I am not bagging the more intensive systems that have emerged over the last few years because they have their place, but I do not believe our industry would be well served by everybody going down this route. I was very critical of our farm advisers, dairy in the main, who were advocating this a few years ago but I notice they have moderated their views as the dairy price has dropped back. Beef prices are reasonable but lamb prices could be a lot better. Beef is doubly tricky with store stock at high prices right now so caution is the name of the game. I mention the prices because we cannot talk about farming systems without talking about product prices just as we cannot talk about pasture without considering quality.

Grass is king and my interest and my passion is what elements of goodness we can put into that grass. What farmers need is high value pasture that maintains animal health and produces top quality milk, beef and lamb. All these elements are possible and available and have formed the basis of our business from the outset. We do not believe that you should just throw on vast amounts of fertiliser that is in many cases wasted. Carefully formulated mixes that contain all of the elements needed for good nutrition and stock health are our speciality, plus soil health which gives the complete package.

Our value to the farmers is delivered in two ways: the first being the specialised products and second being the recommendations regarding the application of that product. Science is now showing us that we need to be careful with fertiliser applications and only deliver to the plant as much nutrient as that plant can take up. Any more is wasteful and an added cost that farmers can well do without in tough times. Much of the admittedly harsh criticism being directed at farmers by environmentalists and now councils can be overcome by being careful with quantity, lifting the quality and care with application. This formula will save you money as well.

Give us a call and we will prove it.

John Barnes, Managing Director, Fertilizer New Zealand.



OVERSEER is a word that seems to be becoming a regular word in our farming vocabulary. Some of you may be familiar with it, and some won’t have a clue what it is about!

To explain it in the simplest form, OVERSEER is an agricultural management tool which assists farmers to examine nutrient use and movements within a farm to optimise production and environmental outcomes.

OVERSEER works by inputting data into the computer model, which calculates the nutrient flows in the farming system. As well as calculations, the computer model assumes best management practises and relies on the information given to be sufficiently certain to generate a quality result.

The computer model calculates and estimates the nutrient flows in a productive farming system and identifies risk for environmental impacts through nutrient loss, including run off and leaching, and greenhouse gas emissions. From this, the OVERSEER model produces a nutrient budget. A nutrient budget is a summary of all nutrient inputs and outputs from a farm or block within a farm.

The model and the results it generates can then be used to provide the means to investigate alternative farm management options to improve the efficiency of nutrient use so as to optimise production and reduce the risk of adverse environmental impacts.

OVERSEER is specifically built for New Zealand’s pasture based systems. These include dairy, sheep and beef, deer and dairy goats. OVERSEER also provides for horticultural systems including fruit, seed, grain and vegetable crops.

We at Fertilizer New Zealand are accredited to do nutrient budgets through OVERSEER with our Certified Nutrient Management Advisor. Contributed by Karen Nolan.