Surface ponding water is the factor that has the most effect on cows' lying time - and hence animal welfare - in winter grazing paddocks, says DairyNZ senior scientist Dawn Dalley.
Having grown up on a farm, he realised from a young age that he wanted to continue the family tradition of working on the land.
Studying at Lincoln was a no-brainer for Matt, as he knew it would put him in the best position to "move up the ladder in the farming industry".
His success has been phenomenal. Only a few short years after completing the Diploma in Farm Management, he's not General Manager of Alpine Pastures in Central Otago, managing four properties and 10 fulltime staff members. “I use the knowledge and skills I learned at Lincoln every day,” he says. “To put it simply, I wouldn’t be doing this job if I hadn’t gone to Lincoln.”
The Diploma in Farm Management offered Matt a good foundation of theoretical knowledge, which he was able to put into context during field trips.
“Once I left uni, I was able to apply these skills in the real world. They gave me a real point of difference against other applicants when applying for jobs.”
Studying a small course with a group of likeminded people also proved very powerful.
“There was always someone to talk to and bounce ideas off,” he says. “My classmates are now spread throughout the country and overseas. Everywhere you travel, you bump into people you know, which allows your network to keep growing.”
After leaving university, Matt began his career journey as an experienced shepherd at a breeding and finishing operation in North Canterbury, where he was strongly encouraged to use the skills and tools he had picked up during his time at Lincoln.
“The big takeaway from this job was learning how to feed stock and budget properly.”
Just 18 months later, he moved into a Stock Managers’ position, and then took on his first Farm Managers’ role two years after that.
“I have been fortunate to work for some very knowledgeable and encouraging people who aided in my progression,” he says. “In December last year, six years after I finished my diploma, my role developed from Farm Manager at Lindis Crossing Station to General Manager of Alpine Pastures Central Otago.”
One of the most rewarding parts of his current position is offering new opportunities to staff and supporting them to develop their skills.
“Working and living in a positive, fun environment is the key to learning more, moving forward and getting the most out of every day.”
Matt says he relishes the challenge of managing finishing properties, as the environment is always changing.
“You need to keep your finger on the pulse to manage stock flows, fine-tune the system of feed demand and supply, and capitalise on opportunities as they arise. At the end of the day, this allows us to grow stock to their full potential and meet – or ideally, exceed – our annual targets.”
He has also developed a major passion for building efficiencies in the business by implementing new technology, which helps to place the organisation at the forefront of farming in New Zealand.
“My challenge moving forward is to continually evolve our practises on farm to meet consumer demands, creating a profitable, sustaining farming business that we can be proud of.”