OVERSEER® nutrient budgets: An unsung hero.

Executive Summary

The OVERSEER® Nutrient Budget model (Overseer ) has developed significantly since its inception in the early 1990’s. The model has been widely accepted as an appropriate tool to aid fertiliser nutrient management decision making , the function that it was designed for.

Regional councils are starting to use Overseer as a regulatory tool, to meet the requirements of the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management. Given this, the model has come under more scrutiny, particularly examining how the limitations of the model apply in a regulatory framework. This additional scrutiny has led to changes in the perceptions of Overseer by users.

The purpose of the report is to provide insights into the perceptions of Overseer, what influences these perceptions and why? This was achieved through the completion of 35 interviews. To enable the author to analyse a range of views, interview groups included d airy and drystock farmers from the Waikato, farmers facing nitrogen regulations, agricultural consultants and regional council staff.

The main findings of the survey were:

  • Age and past exposure to the Overseer model are key influencers on farmer’s current perceptions.
  • The users of Overseer are key influencers of farmer perceptions, understanding and acceptance of the Overseer model.
  • The accuracy of Overseer mode l output is viewed to be influenced by a number of factors, including accuracy of data supplied, consistency of file creation and the limitations of Overseer to model complex farm systems.
  • There is a real concern across all sectors of the future use of Overseer in regulation, at its current perceived level of accuracy and credibility.
  • The Overseer model is effective at completing the tasks that it was initially designed for, that being to aid on-farm nutrient management decision making.

The project highlights that there are measures that if implemented successfully, would significantly improve the perceptions and the level of confidence in Overseer. A number of these issues are already identified in the Overseer Strategic Plan and would be addressed through its implementation.

Through the investigations of the project the following recommendations should be considered for implementation:

  • Significant investment in science to increase the credibility of the current model output and allow for the acknowledgement of future on-farm mitigation practice change.
  • Increase the acceptance and understanding of Overseer with the users of the software through:
    • user friendly web site upgrade
    • timely communications
    • increases in pre-release testing to reduce bug fixes.
  • Greater communication to the wider industry to promote investment, science and technology changes that have been made to improve Overseer.
  • Greater incorporation of Overseer into farming system decision making processes, to increase the value of the software as “more than a regulatory tool”.

Suggested developments include:

  • More streamlined and automated data collection.
  • Links to other farm programmes such as FARMAX and Udder
  • Development of Overseer to create spatial representation of data, such as the MitAgator tool currently under development by Ballance.
  • A two tier nutrient budget model to inform on farm decision making for compliance and non-compliance activities.
  • The release of farmer tailored orientation workshops to improve farmer understanding of the Overseer model.

The wider industry can also contribute to improving the perceptions of Overseer by:

  • Improved awareness by the farming community, facilitated by both regional councils and industry to highlight and gain acceptance to the causes, issues, contribution and solutions to regional water quality issues.
  • The implementation of improved data collection processes nationally by initiatives such as data locker.
  • Improved on-farm data collection to meet the requirements for the reporting of N loss and N use efficiency as part of the Sustainable Dairying: Water Accord obligations
  • Clear guidance provided to farmers from regional councils, as to how Overseer will be used to inform regulation in their specific region, including future Overseer version changes and accounting for on-farm mitigations that are unable to be modelled in Overseer.

The Overseer owners are faced with the challenge of developing and gaining acceptance for the model that is now being used that for a purpose that it was not initially designed for. To achieve this, significant increases in – buy are required from the farmers that it will ultimately influence.

If this can be achieved, then t his will enable the Overseer model to be seen as part of the solution rather than part the problem. In short, Overseer can be the unsung hero, if time and resource is made available to allow Overseer to meet the demands of a new regulatory era in nutrient management.

OVERSEER® Nutrient Budgets: An unsung hero – Adrian Brocksopp

Kiwifruit in the next 35 years: Who is guiding the research to get there

Executive Summary

Where will the Kiwifruit industry be in the next 35 years? We cannot predict all the challenges that it will face, but there may be some that can be foreseen and all the facets of the industry will have to be managed through them. The same for opportunities, there will be

Who is guiding the industry on the long term to ensure that the breeders, marketers, and governments are all on the same page and heading in the same direction.

This report will attempt to take four pillars of influence and see how they will influence the long term kiwifruit industry. These three pillars I have chosen are Researchers, Zespri Marketing and R+D and Ministry of Primary Industry.

Who is going to be steering the research over the next 30 years, so that New Zealand’s primary industry is ahead of the curve in the major factors that will influence the market place we sell into, and the farmland that we produce the produce on?

Kiwifruit in the next 35 years: Who is guiding the research to get there? – Chris Anstis

Farming in a fishbowl: Insights from environmental leaders – James Ryan

Executive summary

In recent years there has been increased public and media scrutiny of the performance of dairy farming in New Zealand. As a result there are mixed views about dairying in New Zealand. In response to increased community pressure the dairy sector is implementing a range of significant initiatives to enhance its environmental performance. While it is opportune for the dairy sector to reflect on the improvements that it has made in recent years, it is also timely to consider what other initiatives can be undertaken to maintain and improve its reputation.

As part of my project I have canvassed the views of some of the sector’s biggest critics to consider what else the dairy sector could do to improve its environmental performance and reputation. The key recommendations arising from these discussions involve:

  1. Evaluate whether the dairy sector is consistently and clearly articulating its position on freshwater limit setting.
  2. Evaluate how environmental poor performance is currently managed and identify opportunities for improvement.
  3. Identify opportunities to tell environmental success stories more effectively including through the involvement of farmers and the environmental sector.
  4. Convene a workshop between the dairy sector and environmental leaders to explore opportunities for ongoing dialogue and partnership.
  5. Explore opportunities to articulate the extent to which the dairy sector is investing in the “value – added” component of dairy exports and communicate this to environmental leaders and other stakeholders.

Farming in a fishbowl: Insights from environmental leaders – James Ryan

How Important is Location in Determining Kiwifruit Orchard Returns.

Executive Summary

Between-orchard variation in approximated average gross revenue per hectare of 341 conventionally managed commercial ‘Hayward’ (HWCK) kiwifruit orchards was spatially modelled across Te Puke, the main production region of New Zealand, over six consecutive growing seasons (2003-2008). Variation between orchards in average gross revenue within seasons (of which spatial variation is a component) was greater than variation between seasons (~temporal variation). Within seasons there were spatial patterns to the distribution of approximated gross revenues per hectare between orchards. The temporal consistency of the spatial variation enabled segregation of the Te Puke growing region into three geographic zones which contained orchards that consistently earned distinctly different returns both within and across seasons.

Despite the differences in orchard revenues between the geographic zones identified being statistically significant and the location of an or chard within the Te Puke growing region having an effect on orchard revenue, orchard location was not predictive of orchard revenue. Therefore it is concluded that the spatial component of between-orchard variation in revenue was exceeded by that of non-spatial site-to-site variation. This we attribute to differences in individual management practices between orchards. As orchard revenue is determined (in order of decreasing influence) by fruit numbers, fruit size and fruit dry matter content – the same hierarchy of responsiveness to orchard management practices – then it follows that orchard revenue is very open to manipulation by orchard management practices.

Therefore geographic zonation between orchards should not be where the effort in managing variation in Hayward kiwifruit and/or land values is concentrated.

How Important is Location in Determining Kiwifruit Orchard Returns – Tim Woodward

Low level physical activity and the impact on the fitness of dairy farmers.

Executive Summary

More New Zealanders are dying of cardiovascular disease than cancer, diabetes and infectious diseases combined. Each month, around 860 people in New Zealand die from cardiovascular disease. Farmers do not compare well with the national population with 83% of farmers who took part in a nationwide farmer wellness and wellbeing programme having a cholesterol reading greater than the World Health Organisation (WHO) acceptable level and are at risk of cardiovascular disease.

Male farmers are most at risk group. 56% of male respondents in the PITSTOP programme had a moderate to high blood pressure and 73% of males had a Body mass index that exceeded the World Health Organisation acceptable healthy level. 61% of respondents were concerned about their ability to keep up with the job. Farming is becoming an unhealthy place to work.

Fitness and exercise play a major part in maintaining body weight, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol which all affect cardiovascular health. Exercise has also been accepted as a green therapy for reducing stress and depression which affect farmers on a huge scale. Health and fitness improves workplace productivity, personal motivation and community involvement. For the dairy industry to meet the objectives of the Strategy for Sustainable Farming, farmers will need to maintain healthy and fit lifestyles and provide opportunity and encouragement to staff in the team environment to maintain the same.

The type of work undertaken by farmers has changed, more sitting down on tractors, quads and at the office desk is contributing to an increase in waist sizes and weight of farmers. The level of activity on dairy farms measured by monitoring farmer heart rates shows farmers working with moderate levels of mechanisation do not elevate heart rates enough to improve fitness and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Individual heart rate intensity did not vary greatly between fit farmers and unfit farmers proving the manual labour on farms outside calving is not very physical. Fit farmers did achieve more in the day and also managed to do off farm exercise.

More resources need to be put into researching and education around health and physical fitness if the industry wants to attract and retain talented people.

Low level physical activity and the impact on the fitness of dairy farmers – Ian Handcock

The Kellogg Journey.

Executive summary

The New Zealand Kellogg Rural Leaders Programme (KRLP) is a highly respected industry leadership programme which develops emerging agribusiness leaders to help shape the future of New Zealand’s primary industry.

The purpose of this study was to get feedback from Kellogg Alumni, looking at their expectations of Kellogg Rural Leaders Programme and success since they have completed the programme. This was done by interviewing past participants and asking them to evaluate different phases of the program and think about how that has impacted their careers.

The skills expected to be gained and developed by the participants were finance, industry and business skills, leadership development, confidence and self-awareness development, presentation and public speaking, communication and organisational skills. Most of the participants said skills they were expecting to learn were taught or developed further.

Kellogg Rural Leader Program has helped to make most participants aware of wider networks, through exposure to different industries within the primary sector and gaining confidence to utilise the networks, including using technology and social media sites such as Twitter.

The program has built confidence for these Kelloggers interviewed, enhanced leadership skills, developed networks and opportunities to step up and have a say; to contribute and grow within our Primary sector. The program has hugely influenced personal and professional growth. The learning style within the program is of great benefit. There were learning from all parts of the program, especially where recommendations have been made for improvement to speakers and workshops. This highlights to the participants what not to do.

Every person who I interviewed remains in the primary industry and has adopted new roles or opportunities within the wider primary sector and local community since participating in the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme. The Programme has met and exceeded expectations and 100% of interviewees said the Kellogg Rural Leadership program has positively impacted their career.

The Kellogg Journey – April Mainland

Herding the Cats: Change Management in New Zealand Primary Industries.

Executive Summary

In February of 2013 I received an out of the blue phone call from a fellow sheep and beef farmer whom I had never met. His name was Richard Young and he was organising a meeting of like minded farmers to discuss the issues around the dire state of the red meat sector. The attendance and subsequent outcome of that meeting was the formation of Meat Industry Excellence (MIE) for which I was to be a foundation member and Richard Young, himself a Kellogg Scholar, was to be our inaugural chairman. That meeting in many ways changed my life and has led to me, quite incidentally, being at the forefront of the current attempt to reform the red meat sector.

Along the way it has been an absolute privilege to meet and engage with many of the significant leaders of New Zealand primary industries both current and past and to share their wisdom and experience. The Kellogg’s scholarship project has provided me with a guilt edged opportunity to leverage into their experiences particularly in regard their experiences in change management. What lessons can be learnt not only for myself in regard my on-going involvement with MIE but for other future primary industry change managers who may read this text.

This is a qualitative assessment as opposed to a quantitative one. I have chosen a diverse range of case studies and deliberately concentrated on the “how” aspect. The who, what and why are required for context but my real interest is in the process of leadership required to deliver an outcome. I do not seek to judge what they did and indeed two of my examples were ultimately not successful in achieving their initial objectives. This was deliberate in regard are there any comparative themes that emerge between the successful and the ill fated?

How do you go from having a conceptual idea, as we did in Gore on that fateful evening in February 2013, to achieving an actual outcome? What is the secret to “Herding the Cats?”

Herding the Cats: Change Management in New Zealand Primary Industries – Mark Patterson

A european canker (nectria canker) review

Executive Summary

In 2013 the New Zealand Pipfruit industry produced 18m Tce (tray carton equivalent used as a standardised unit for quantity of apples) of export fruit generating $504m in revenue. As part of the pipfruit industries representative body Pipfruit New Zealand Inc strategic review a target o f becoming a $1b industry by 2022 was issued thus indicating a requirement for growth of almost 100% over 9 years.

Since 2008 European Canker (Nectria Canker) infections have significantly increased due to weather events and lack of grower education of techniques to mitigate the infection.

To date there have been no official statistics quantifying the extent of the infection rate nationally, however anecdotal information provided through observation, contracted quantitative surveys on orchard and an industry leader survey suggests canopy infection could be as high as 15%. Best practice to date highlights the need to remove infection from the orchard in turn suggesting up to 15% of cropping potential could be lost.

In 2013 at a rate of an estimated 7.5% loss of production in Central Otago and Hawkes Bay combined with a 10% loss of production in Nelson and other pipfruit producing regions it could be estimated that up to 1.5m tce worth of production is currently being lost to European Canker. This translates to $42.2m in potential lost revenue through lowered hectare productivity.

After surveying a number of high level industry representatives (consultants, grower representative bodies, growers and industry body representatives) it cannot be said with confidence that the infection rate is being maintained but more than likely it could be increasing.

If this infection rate were to increase by 5% (13.5% and 15% respectively) across a $1b industry it can be estimated that growers would have the potential to lose an estimated 4.6m tce in production which translates to a staggering $143m.

For the pipfruit industry to realise its target of $1b by 2022 a combination of increases in productivity, new varieties and increased unit sales price are required along with significant development.

With EC potential to erode productivity and potentially in creasing the industry is required to reassure corporate investors that New Zealand pipfruit production is a sensible investment option.

It has been identified through the survey that not only do we lack skilled researchers to better address this disease, but IP ownership coupled with market access sensitivities appear to be hindering free flow of knowledge with offshore specialists.

EC awareness is important to address and mitigate the infection further however knowledge of the disease within New Zealand pipfruit in market has serious ramifications on market access.

After evaluating the differing aspects of this disease, the primary objectives and functions of Pipfruit New Zealand and a better understanding how EC effects participants within the industry I am convinced management for the advancement in in field of EC mitigation is a function should be directed by PNZ under guidance of the industry participants.

Ideally a stepped assessment of the current infection levels of the disease and a quantified risk assessment of sensitive market access driven by industry body PNZ would be valuable.

The effect on the participants within an industry striving to achieve $1 Billion by 2022 Morgan Rogers IP Manager T&G This would derive the information needed to tactfully approach corporate investors and industry to form a research program sensitive to market access cautions but still providing growers and investors with reassurance that EC infection is a point of focus.

Funding could be leveraged between collaborative research bodies, corporate’s and government allowing free access to findings.

A European Canker (Nectria Canker) review – Morgan Rogers

Feeding the dragon.

Executive Summary

The emergence of China as the largest consumer of food and beverage products has been a significant global mega-trend, one which has far reaching implications around the globe and in the international food and beverage industry. These developments will have a significant impact on food and beverage exporting countries, such as New Zealand, and will present opportunities for exporting firms to increase the value of their production.

This report investigates the Critical Success Factors of global firms which have achieved success in the China marketplace, and compares them against three of New Zealand’s food and beverage industries which have exports destined for China. The three industries include the Dairy, Red Meat, and Kiwifruit industries, which are important contributors to New Zealand’s total exports and have a significant proportion of their exports destined for China.

The Critical Success Factors chosen are characteristics, conditions, or variables of effective export marketing strategies, being; Understanding of the market, Selling and distribution channels, Promotion of a brand, and Collaboration.

Using these Critical Success Factors, this report compares the habits, trends and practices of recommended practice firms against three of New Zealand’s food and beverage industries. The report found that across the three New Zealand industries there are vast differences in approach amongst individual firms but also across each industry. The results of each industry could be linked back to the structure of the industry, as well as the culture of the industry. Of the three New Zealand industries, the Dairy industry was found to have the strongest coverage over all four Critical Success Factors, and also displays characteristics most in line with the recommended practice firms. There are factors in this industry which lead towards this, such as the industry being dominated by one large firm which has the resources, scale, and experience to lead the industry.

The Red Meat industry has traditionally been characterised by strong competition and barriers to collaboration within the industry, and this factor was quite evident during the discussions with firms in this industry. Though there are four large firms and a number of smaller firms in the industry which are selling similar products to the same markets, there is a lack of cohesion, industry collaboration and resource sharing, and an inability for branding due to each firm being unable to differentiate from another.

The Kiwifruit industry stood out as displaying strong habits in promotion of a brand and understanding of the market, which has been a result of the industry investing significantly in these two areas and having a focused approach of one product, one brand. This focus is further strengthened due to the structure of the industry being a single desk operator, which allows one firm to be responsible for all marketing, selling and distribution of product, and also allows it to gain scale benefits which are also similar to Dairy.

This report finds that three of New Zealand’s food and beverage industries involved in this research have shown habits which are consistent with international firms which achieved sustained success in China. Each of the three industries have areas to continue to develop across the Critical Success Factors of effective export marketing strategies to ensure they are cementing themselves in the China food and beverage supply chain, and in order to maximise the opportunities presented by the emergence of China as a consumer of sophisticated food and beverage products.

Feeding the Dragon – Jason Te Brake

The Role of Lamb Producer Groups in the NZ Industry.

Executive Summary

This report was undertaken to provide a greater understanding of the positive role lamb producer groups have in the New Zealand sheep meat industry, due to the repeated negative comments about the industry and its performance publically and in the media.

The majority of research used in the report was completed by qualitative interviews with all key stakeholders of a producer group, in this case the Waitrose Lamb Producer Group which involves a UK retailer, a processor and farmer suppliers from New Zealand.

The customer, processor and farmers were interviewed to reveal their views on strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of being involved with a lamb producer group.

As a result of the valuable discussions that were had with each link of the value chain, this study has identified a number of key factors which determine the current strengths of a lamb producer group and the opportunities that are going to enable the producer group to meet future demands of the consumer.

The key strengths were identified as below:

  • Transparency of information shared throughout the supply chain.
  • Relationships throughout the producer group – It brings openness, frankness, trust and collaboration.
  • Linking the farmer directly to the market provides valuable market intelligence and understanding of the customer and their expectations.
  • Data gathering, sharing and benchmarking drives continuous performance from the farmers.
  • There is certainty of supply for both the customer and processor at least 12 months in advance.

The key opportunities were identified as below:

  • Further utilise existing research data to help improve on.
  • Farm performance through efficient production and cost savings.
  • Benchmark more vigorously within the group.
  • Reduce wastage throughout the supply chain to unlock additional margin.
  • Better utilise producer group lambs for the existing programme or other key customers that have the same consumer requirements.
  • Stay ahead by being involved with research & development projects that differentiate the processor by creating a point of difference.
  • Provide more transparency of margin within the group to build more confidence and trust from all stakeholders.
  • Develop longer term price contracts for the farmer.

The producer group model enables the value chain to better handle the peaks and troughs during the season, which in turn helps to reduce volatility in the schedule pricing. The farmer and processor need to be satisfied with their margins and this must continue to be shared on a fair basis. The customer will continually pay a premium if the farmers and the processor can consistently produce safe, high quality product that complies with the specific requirements including strict farm assurance and animal welfare standards.

Developing more lamb producer groups is not the only solution; however they go a long way in helping to improve the current stat e of the NZ sheep meat industry through collaboration and vertical alignment.

In summary, lamb producer groups in the New Zealand sheep meat industry have a role for the future development of value creation to increase not only overall returns, but most importantly profitability and stability for the farmers and processors.

The Role of Lamb Producer Groups in the NZ Industry – Landon Jones