Tuesday, 19 April 2022 11:55

Little respite for Southland farmers

Written by  Peter Burke
Tony Finch Tony Finch

There has been little respite for Southland dairy farmers as the dry weather continues.

DairyNZ's head consulting officer in the South Island, Tony Finch, says the situation is quite serious.

While there have been droughts in Southland in the past, most have occurred in late summer, whereas this is an autumn drought.

Finch says part of the problem is that droughts are not something that many Southland farmers are familiar with and he says people new to farming in the province need to quickly school up on how to deal with the situation.

"New entrants such as contract milkers and sharemilkers need to think carefully and seek advice if they haven't already done so, because they can quickly get themselves into a pretty big hole which could really jeopardise next season's farm performance," he says.

Finch says while there has been rain in some parts of the province there is still a lot more needed to get the grass growth back to a comfortable level.

He says they face challenges dealing with diminishing feed reserves, both on the platform and supplementary feeds. Some are yielding to the temptation to milk on because of the high payout; they need to make sure they can do that without compromising next season.

"Farmers just need be on top of their feed budget. They have got to identify the gaps and the holes and it comes down to taking small but numerous actions now, as opposed to one big large one. They need to make sure they have a full understanding of the feed on hand and requirements to feed stock if there is a gap," he says.

Finch says it is all about making the right decisions for the right reasons, being careful and getting good advice from DairyNZ or other rural professionals.

He says the longer the drought goes on, there is a risk that soil temperatures will drop and it's possible that farmers won't get the grass growth they are hoping for.

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