Mark and Devon Slee celebrating their success with their family
Winning the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards gives Canterbury dairy farmers Mark and Devon Slee the opportunity to tell some ‘good news’ stories about their industry and New Zealand agriculture in general.
The Slees were presented with the Gordon Stephenson trophy at the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust’s National Sustainability Showcase in Christchurch on June 26.
The couple was surprised and delighted to receive the award, accepting it on behalf of the entire dairy industry.
Mark Slee says he and Devon are proud to be dairy farmers. . .
Soil mapping technology a big step forward – Tim Cronshaw:
Four South Canterbury cropping farmers were so smitten with the precision of a soil sampling machine that they brought it back with them from the United States.
The Veris MSP3 3150 was imported by Colin Hurst and Hugh Wigley, who farm at Makikihi, in Waimate, and Michael Tayler and Nick Ward, from Winchester.
Commonly used in the big corn belts of the US since 2003, the technology is new to New Zealand, with only one other machine here.
The $70,000 machine is towed behind a tractor, and uses electrical conductivity to map paddocks for soil texture, and infrared measurement to detect organic matter, while constantly sampling soils for their Ph levels. . .
Sugar beet is the new wonder fuel, according to Southern Cross Produce owner Matthew Malcolm who has started growing and harvesting sugar beet for the dairy market.
“I can see a real future for it.
“With a lot more wintering sheds going up there will be a bigger demand to take the crop to the cows,” he said.
Malcolm, who has grown 10 hectares of the crop on his Woodlands property in Southland, was keen to try sugar beet which has a higher sugar content than fodder beet. . .
Massey University and Plant & Food Research have formed a new joint graduate school to increase collaboration between the two institutes.
About a dozen Massey masters and doctoral students are studying topics that would in future be offered at the school.
This number is expected to increase with the availability of new research projects and supervisors from Plant & Food Research. . .
Spinal injury doesn’t stop Dave – Tim Cronshaw:
Dave Clouston knew his life would change the moment his pelvis jackknifed to his chest.
The fit farmer, hardened from years of mustering, was at his working peak and had earlier run through the forest to grab a tractor before his next job of stacking hay in a barn.
Clouston had worked his way up as a sheep and beef farmer on some of the best mustering blocks in Canterbury, and the young married man was managing a family business at Whitecliffs.
“I was stacking some hay we had brought in, and there was some loose hay on the floor of the barn. I jumped off the tractor to clear that away, and while I was bending over to do that the hay unsettled enough to come down on top of me – I never dreamed it would do that – from five high. They were big, square bales, and at least a couple hit me, and I was left pinned under one of them with my pelvis under my chest.” . .
Shades of grey: ag’s power play – Sam Trethewey :
THE discovery of some snowy strands in my dark brown ‘do this week brought me both pleasure and pain – the ‘pain’ of ageing of course stings, but the pleasure was based on the realisation that the older I grow, the more I’ll be taken seriously in Australian agribusiness.
Most Australian business, including agribusiness, uses age-old management styles. It’s a vertical, top heavy system that that needs ‘workers’ not ‘contributors’. The sector has limited time for innovation and is resistant to change. We live in a fast-paced, globalised world and this structure is failing us.
These old school management styles put a lot of power at the top of the hierarchy and from there it’s a top down management approach (autocratic). . .