Heartland and head land

In some parts of the world farming is a subsistence operation.

In others it’s carried out by employees on behalf of absentee landowners.

Here, more often than not farm owners are also farm workers.

They use their hands and get them dirty but they also use their heads and a lot of equipment designed and produced by other people who’ve used their heads.

This point is well-made by Jim Hopkins in his observations on the Southern Field Days:

The buzz from the boffins is that we’ve got to get high tech and whizzy. We must walk the Weta walk and talk the IT talk. Add value, head upmarket, tap into the cyber world. Farming is a sunset industry, old hat, old school, old world, prone to fouling pristine streams with incontinent cows.

There’s no point flogging milk and trees and meat and wool to the world. Commodities are so yesterday!

Except they’re not. They’re still how we pay two-thirds of our bills. And Field Days aren’t merely the heartland doing its thing. They’re also the head land, a place where much of that cutting-edge stuff so beloved of the policy analysts is actually on show. It’s just that they’re not looking.

Innovation and success go hand in hand.

Most farms these days are high-tech work places. The introduction of the National Animal Identification and Tracing scheme will make livestock farms even more so.

There is some work that machines and gadgets will never replace on farms, the nature of the business will always require a lot of manual work. But now more than ever successful farms require a lot of head work – on the farm and from the people and businesses which service and supply them – as well.





12 Responses to Heartland and head land

  1. pmofnz says:

    So what will a NAIT tag do any differently than the AHB tags on my cattle beasts at the works when they get their heads lopped off?

    Another expensive database with an attendant newly established bureaucracy that has no reason to exist.


  2. homepaddock says:

    NAIT will identify animals electronically and will be able to be used for management on-farm.


  3. pmofnz says:

    If on-farm animal management is a business requirement for a large cattle producer, I do not see why my cattle should be saddled with NAIT costs and bureaucracy that only adds more costs and paperwork to my lifestyle block grass mowers.

    Any argument for added bio-security traceability goes out the window when the tags are removed at the works. Though it might give Mrs Jones, UK a good feeling knowing the animal had a NAIT tag as she tucks into the world’s finest beef in her Sunday roast. NAIT certainly does not give me any good feeling as a producer of that beef, only a feeling that New Zealand farmers have yet again been suckered.


  4. MarkR says:

    As a raiser of bobby calves, unless the calves are supplied by the dairy farmer with NAIT tags there is absolutely no electronic traceability back to the original producer – much the same as now. So what difference is there between the AHB system and the NAIT system other than the development of a whole new industry and bureaucracy when the old one wasn’t broken. Jobs for boys; although I’m certain those in charge see their mission as one of ‘saving the industry’.
    And no I don’t need them for on-farm management!


  5. Andrei says:

    The world will be a much much safer place once we have drones in concrete towers keeping track of New Zealand’s farm animals and their fates.

    I don’t know why you skeptics can’t see this – it is just as well we have well educated and wise MPs who can see the bigger picture and know what is needed and can get it done – in between photo opportunities at Gay Pride events.


  6. Andrei says:

    For another perspective on rural life how about some Heartland poetry from the back of beyond – a place called Rakova



  7. Andrei says:

    Whoops try again


  8. homepaddock says:

    Thanks Andrei, that is different in many ways but there are similarities to country life here.


  9. Colin McIntyre says:

    Not looking forward to the introduction of NAIT. Remember we spent $250 million + on a vacine for meningococcal B although offical Health Dept. figures supported the supposed epidemic had run its course.That vaccine was disgarded by the manufacturers shortly afterwards. Just one example of Govt. stuffups.
    Not many one labour units running large farms will be able to keep tags intact, although it is good to see apps for smartphones will probably alleviate the need for barcode readers.
    The sucessful Field Days are a product of skilled voluntary time and input plus the efforts of exhibitors, although a visit to a Portaloo gave an insite into NZ’s true situation.


  10. robertguyton says:

    Thumbs-up for Colin’s ‘Portaloo’ comment.
    I love watching Ele defend NAIT. She speaks with Helen Clark’s voice.


  11. Richard says:

    Does NAIT extend to mapping the individual DNA of every sheep/cattle in NZ? Or am I asking too much?
    Mrs Bouquet of “Keeping Up Appearances” would have approved— I think.–

    Except, Mrs B might balk at seeing her Sunday leg roast of lamb, purchased at Waitrose, from her oven door, “TV Channel :”Birth to Eat” to discover that her purchase ,DNA number – Trevrmal000. — Name: Polly 0007785 …… from North Otago where the other leg of Polly was bought by a a merchant banker, in the decidedly low market, Salisbury. What does she do?
    Where does technology end?


  12. homepaddock says:

    Richard – no, but I think individual farmers could use it to record that sort of information on their herds. Mrs Bucket might have to buy both legs.

    Robert @ 3:45 – Nooooooooooooooooooo!


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