Aside from the high-profile issue of environmental responsibility, there’s definitely good money to be made (or saved) using naturally-occurring nutrient resources more effectively, according to FarmChief’s Grant Murray.
Grant says dairy farmers, particularly, often spend significant sums buying-in nutrients where savings of tens of thousands could be made by better using the 20-25 odd litres cows produce each day.
He’s backing up that assertion with a selection of some of the most tried and tested effluent management brands from Europe, with more science yet to come.
The latest addition is the Maelstrom West rear discharge spreader.
British designed and engineered it joins the Dual West muck spreader, made by the same company, and the highly-regarded Veenhuis, Envirospread, and Storth brands at FarmChief.
Grant says FarmChief talks to farmers and contractors before they add to their range and he sees a definite place for the impressive Maelstrom.
Built to high specifications, and capable of achieving a spread width of up to 12m, the Maelstrom deals with muck and semi-solids, including mushroom compost and nutrients from feed lots, feed pads, dairy shelters and barns. “It’s something farmers are collecting every day.” Grant says. “Why not make the most of it?”
Twin rear vertical beaters operate at a powerful 400rpm from the PTO drive input of 1000 rpm. To make maintenance easier, the rear beaters are fitted with replaceable blades and feature a protected, two-piece drive line, with a slip clutch and wide-angle PTO.
The “Y” body shape and low loading height allows for a quick and easy fill with any material handler. An optional slurry door and light protectors are available along with weighing systems and GPS spreading facilities.
As everyone acknowledges, the dairy industry is constantly changing. The trend towards European-style barns, which is paying dividends for farmers who supply winter milk, is one aspect but Grant also sees further developments in precision farming.
New science. common sense.
While not in New Zealand yet, Veenhuis has developed Nutri-Flow, a precision agricultural tool which determines the nutritional values of organic manure before use.
Grant says it uses infrared technology, which has been used for years in medicine for tasks including blood tests which avoid the traditional need for invasive procedures.
The NIRS analysis technique determines the percentage of nutrients in the slurry: Nitrogen, phosphate, potassium, ammonium and dry matter (N, P, K, NH4-N ammonium, DS%). Analysis can be done at the source, even before transport, but also in real time during the low-emission use of organic manure.
Because the analysis can take place before transport, there is no need to wait for results of laboratory analysis before the manure is used.
Nutri-Flow will enable site-specific organic fertilizer application to meet fertilisation needs, and read nutrient requirements of both soil and plant.
Grant says, when it becomes available, it will also be able to be retro-fitted to older machines.
A FarmChief client, and someone who knows more about effective effluent management than most, is James Geddes.
James, who has a property at Norwood, Central Canterbury, (now run by son Jimmy), has spent his entire life around dairy and is a fourth-generation Friesian breeder. Geddes Farming Ltd runs 300 cows, milking year-round, for Synlait, and they also have an effluent management contracting arm; Faultline Slurry.
Their new-generation dairy approach ensures all effluent is contained and spread evenly over the farm. That’s something, James wryly comments, that the cows tend not to do by themselves. And the extra good news? No synthetic fertiliser required.
Geddes Farming’s cows are housed and fed in a barn, which they are free to roam around in, and they rest on soft, rubber mats. The barn is cleaned by automatic 24-hour rakes and no extra water is used in the process, so it’s gentle on resources.
From the barn, nutrients are transferred to an effluent pond. An 18,000Ltr Slurry Tanker with a drip boom, purchased from FarmChief, takes care of distribution, and is also used for contracting.
James says the European system suits cows, which naturally dislike the wet, and are most content at temperatures between minus 5 and 15 degrees. At temperatures above that, cooling fans in the barn automatically kick-in.
Animal welfare is paramount and as James says, if the cows aren’t comfortable, they won’t be producing either.
All feed is produced on the farm and, when dried-off, cows graze outdoors.
The result is optimal performance, and nothing is ever wasted.