Thursday, 17 February 2022 10:55

Project aims to get snapshot of farm performances

Written by  Staff Reporters
Hawke's Bay deer farmer Jacqui Anderson. Hawke's Bay deer farmer Jacqui Anderson.

A Hawke's Bay deer farm is part of a MPI-funded project providing a national snapshot of farm performance.

The four-year project is bringing together detailed physical/production, environmental and financial data from more than 2,000 farms across the dairy, beef and lamb, deer, arable and horticulture sectors.

“The significance of this project cannot be underestimated. It is the first time such robust data has been collected and analysed,” explains Matthew Newman, who is leading the project for MPI.

“Having quality farm data will enable better decision making by farmers and growers, industry organisations and policy makers.”

Wayne and Jacqui Anderson are one of about 170 deer farmers taking part.

The experienced farm owners diversified into deer in March 2019, buying a 71-hectare (effective) property west of Hastings.

The property runs 107 mixed-age hinds, replacement hinds, 114 fawns, several breeding stags, as well sheep and cattle.

The Andersons strive to grow livestock as efficiently as possible, maximising profits while reducing their environmental footprint, and hope the project will provide them with valuable data to improve their deer farm.

“It would be useful to know how we measure up against other deer farms in the region and nationally,” Jacqui Anderson says.

“I want to know if our economic and environmental performance could be better. That sort of detailed sector data doesn’t currently exist.”

MPI is partnering with sector groups, such as Deer Industry New Zealand (DINZ), to collate and analyse the anonymised farm data.

Participating deer farmers will all receive a free Farm Environment Plan (FEP).

“The benefits of having a Farm Environment Plan are multi-pronged,” Newman adds. “These help farmers identify risks within their business and areas for environmental improvement, including reducing agricultural greenhouse gas emissions.”

There are around 1,000 commercial deer farms across New Zealand, with the largest number located in Canterbury, Southland and Otago.

“We have already collected data from 40 deer farms,” says DINZ producer manager Lindsay Fung. “We aim to do a further 40 this financial year. We’ve never gathered this amount of farm-level data from so many deer farms across New Zealand at the same time.”

He says DINZ sees the project as an opportunity to show the environmental gains deer farmers have been quietly making.

Developing a set of robust baseline cross-sector data will help achieve productivity and sustainability targets. This first phase of the farm monitoring programme is expected to be completed by June 2023.

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