The Hound's editor was contacted by a Hawkes Bay sheep farmer about an item in the Oct 24 column on…
Wairua Dairies, 40km from Hastings, milks 1600 cows, raises its own replacements and runs a large cropping operation.
Lewis Knauf is the operations manager for the farm, which employs 12 staff. It was originally bought by his parents Ivan and Sue in 2001 and is owned by a family company.
It’s a big, busy farming operation, Knauf says. “If you look at the farm calendar there’s not many days when nothing’s happening.”
This includes irrigating half the 645ha-effective area and about 160ha of cropping a year, mainly maize and fodder beet, and lucerne, rape and winter oats.
Knauf says he chose software to enable better paddock recording, for example map views. “We’re using it to keep track of what we put on each paddock and building up a paddock history over time.”
They need to keep doing new subdivision as they put in more dams for irrigation water.
“In Hawke’s Bay, you need [stored water] at some stage every year; you just don’t know when or for how long. In an average year we will be out of irrigation water for 21 days so we’ve got to try to fill that hole the best we can.
“Working from the interactive farm map is fantastic. When you’re subdividing it’s just a few clicks of the mouse to do on the map and it keeps the paddock history from the old area.”
Another drawcard is “the ease of use of this software compared to others we’ve tried. The software we’re using is easy: click, click and you’re done. You don’t spend hours in the office.”
The software is used to record information as the farmers go, “then I can look at it later,” Knauf says. “One guy does all the farm walks, for example puts it in and then I can look wherever I am and make decisions.
“If my parents want information, it’s all sitting on the software; they go in when they want to.”
The software records from the past year give Knauf the beginnings of a plan for the coming year.
“I tinker around on the map with the cropping plan for next year. It makes it easy to keep track of that sort of thing. Changes to cropping plans can be recorded before the end of the meeting for everyone to see.”
The software also suits managing replacements. The farm rears 900 calves a year and grazes 300 until they enter the herd, while selling the rest as beef-cross weaners; all the related recording is done using the software.
“It’s effectively a 250ha grazing operation attached to a dairy farm. We use the software to keep track of their progress. We are recording their weights and all the animal health treatments.
“We record young stock as they come in and leave. Everything gets wanded and when it’s weighed or treated that information all goes in. You just carry the wand, hook up to a phone and send the file away to the software and it’s all stored.”
- Quick and easy to use
- Good mapping and paddock records
- Good animal records
- New uses emerge with familiarity.