Reading The Signs

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I recently visited our member business cluster clubs and as a result I am feeling highly energised.

One of the main focuses was on optimizing pasture covers on all the sheep, cattle, deer and cattle farms we visited, and for dairy farms the additional importance of maintaining high cow condition at all times.

Much discussion was on how to read the signs early – soil temperature and moisture, rainfall, pasture covers, Brix and stock condition – and make decisions accordingly.

The refreshing thing for me is that our farmers hone in on their profit opportunities and use them to drive production. They make well considered “what if” scenarios modified by know-how and experience and backed up by eCOGENT analyses.

I see good decision making practice every day on farms and being fine-tuned at cluster clubs. Successful action plans are developed using the “What to do”, “When to do it” and “How to do it” approach.

Another significant event for me is to see the benefits of the inputs from the Neal Kinsey recommendations on soil fertility. He is a forceful advocate of Albrecht soil fertility balancing and making the change from chemical to biological to carbon positive farming.

Many farmers have read the signs of chemical over-use and are heading down an alternative path towards pastoral sustainability using soil fertility measurements that take the guesswork out of fertiliser recommendations, stocking rates, lambing, calving and drying off dates.

One very experienced farmer is sure this approach will result in huge savings in fertiliser costs. Kinsey is part of an independent international service that operates in 70 countries and I believe his approach is great news for farming. It is now showing an even greater rate of improvement to soil carbon levels and overall production with sustainable profit levels and environmental benefits.

We have learnt the “what” and “when” over the past five years, and we now have the “how” – a specific positive course of action with independent recommendations applicable to our conditions.

This approach will take the confusion and disappointment away from fertiliser best guesses of the past. Using Brix measures to improve the total nutrient density of pastures and crops and the resulting milk and meat has got to provide a value-added strategy for our future marketing opportunities.

Peter Floyd

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