Toxicology and the New Zealand Farmer.

This work is designed as a short introduction to common poisons found around New Zealand farms. It has been prepared to fulfill, in part, the requirement of the Kellogg Rural Leadership Programme.

Toxicology is the study of poisons. You may have heard the old saying “the dose makes the poison”. This means that actually, everything is toxic at some level which makes the study of toxicology relevant to a number of areas including human health, the environment, public policy, drug development and human safety.

This booklet covers some of the chemicals found around the common New Zealand farming environment. The information on what to include has been based on analysis of statistics from the New Zealand National Poisons Center.

Comparing and contrasting adoption of technologies used overseas to New Zealand for managing variability on farm.

Executive summary

The growing trend in precision farming (PF) comprises technologies that combine sensors, information systems, enhanced machinery, and informed management to optimise production by accounting for variability and uncertainties within agricultural systems. Adapting production inputs site-specifically within paddocks and individually for each animal enabling better use of resources to maintain and improve the quality of the environment while improving the sustainability of food supply and security. Precision farming is now providing a means to monitor the food production chain and manage both the quality and quantity of agricultural produce. A key area of growth in terms of scientific development and validation is in the area of sensors and precision application to manage the increased level of information. Although the benefits from PF appear to be endless, in New Zealand there is a lack of understanding and insight into adoption of precision farming technologies.

The purpose of this report is to provide insight into extension strategies for PF technology adoption to improve New Zealand’s ability to aid the adoption process through a more considered extension approach including details of:

  1. Trends in precision farming overseas and in New Zealand
  2. Diffusion and adoption overview
  3. Currently recognised rural extension strategies
  4. Overview of two PF technologies available overseas and in New Zealand.

Data accessible online and through Ballance Agri-Nutrients network identified two technologies, the N-Sensor® and global position systems (GPS) as case studies. The information available on these technologies was used to identify how they have been adopted overseas compared to New Zealand, and if any extension approaches were developed to aid their adoption. The extension approaches for each of the technologies have been compared and contrasted to industry recognised extension approaches, to provide improvements for future PF technologies released to the rural sector.

Although a comparison was made between countries, regarding adoption of the case study technologies there was little insight gained due to the lack of data available for a robust comparison. Further to this, the relevance of a country when reviewing extension approaches was found to have little to no influence on the adoption rate. Beyond this exception, there were some similarities and differences between how the case study technologies were released to market and aided or in the instance of the case studies, were unsupported by deliberated extension approaches, but the major consistencies were:

  1. Lack of deliberate extension strategy.
  2. Improvised linear ‘top-down’ transfer of technology.
  3. Dependant on highly technologically perceptive farmers.
  4. Technology developed by researches or in another field, which “found” a solution in the agricultural sector.
  5. Hugely dependant on external drivers to get adoption over the ‘chasm’ – greater than 15% adoption in the market place.
  6. Lack of consolidated data to assess rates of adoption and impacts of extension approaches.

As the adoption of PF technologies in New Zealand is perceived to accelerate with the expectation that the majority of innovations for PF will become industry standard. This report recommends that through utilising current and future case studies and leveraging the knowledge and skills of extension process and practices greater adoption of PF innovations can be achieved by:

  1. Greater attention and emphasis should be placed on developing extension approaches through the development of an innovation.
  2. Identifying target markets and involving the potential adopters through the development of the innovation is reported to have a great improve on rate and success of adoption.
  3. Data of technology adoption should be captured on a national level to provide insight into rates of adoption and technology transfer within the agricultural industry.
  4. Identified through the literature review, the lack of knowledge around the level of education attained by New Zealand farmers was revealed. This should be reviewed as it may influence their ability to critically analyse the farm system and be able to identify issues and work through solutions.
  5. As this is a review with case studies applied to a theoretical construct, further research should be conducted into understanding the potential of planned extension strategies with precision farming innovations.

Precision farming presents a great opportunity in managing variability on farm to an every declining scale. There are currently innovations that are well down the track of the innovation categories while others have yet to become commercially available. Although precision farming has been around for a number of decades, it is still in its infancy here is New Zealand but this will be overcome by time. With a greater focus on extension practices and processes in the rural sector, the impact of PF on the wider industry and society as a whole will be realised.

Maximising your asset.

Executive Summary

50/50 Sharemilking as a path to farm ownership is a tried and true journey in the NZ Dairy Industry. Often, sharemilkers have to grow their herds quickly over a short period of time. For example, moving from a 270 cow farm up to a 500 cow farm. A sharemilker’s herd is their biggest and most valuable asset. My Kellogg Rural Leadership Project explores strategies and attempts to quantify several strategies for sustainable herd growth.

Herd value in New Zealand is usually determined by a few factors. Breeding Worth, Production and Cow Age. Herd growth must fall within these boundaries and be cost effective and sustainable.

This case study focused on a 77ha 270 cow dairy farm in the Matamata/Piako district. Several scenarios were analysed that were applicable to this herd and interviews and a survey conducted which explored other farmers herd growth stories and strategies, with special focus on people who had undertaken these strategies themselves and their experiences.

After comparing several scenarios, it was decided that to “maximise” the herd owner’s asset; herd growth will have to come from within. This will be achieved by breeding the herd to high BW proven bulls, attempting to increase 6 week in calf rate and breeding the bottom 10-15% of animals to easy calving beef sires.

Increased value from cull cows will be achieved by preventing udder damage.

Advice was also sought from farm consultants, one herd growth expert and one reproductive expert.


Once Upon a Time Down on the Farm…

Executive Summary

Dairy farmers are being encouraged to tell their story by leaders in the New Zealand dairy industry. This study surveyed opinions from fifteen New Zealand dairy industry and media leaders and discovered a need to share good stories with other farmers to improve uptake of on farm practice, with the general public to improve the social licence to operate and with international markets to create value for dairy products. The science as to why storytelling as a communication tool is so effective in these circumstances points towards creating an emotional connection with the target audience that fuels a hormone induced bond and aids in persuading the audience towards a specific idea or outcome.
Building a story to create that connection is an art. International experts talk of the story structure, plot, characters, conflict and resolution but the surveyed leaders indicate sharing small snapshots of the farmers’ story is adequate in building the larger New Zealand farming story. Leaders and experts agree storytelling requires the careful consideration of who the target audience is, the formation of a clear, simple message, selective use of emotive language and a creative form of delivery to have the desired effect. In the context of farmers telling their story, it is suggested that farmers use online multimedia through social networks to tell the story that they care about their farm, their families, their animals and their environment.

Emotional intelligence: Seismic shifts in the primary industry compel whole brain leadership

Executive Summary

Enthusiasm and passion for the Primary Industry, and it’s people, ignited an aspiration to understand how the Primary Sector is going to boost human capability to achieve it’s ambitions of doubling export earnings by 2025. Seismic market movements, international politics, technological advances and climate change all contribute to an unsettled and fickle business environment. Increasing complexity requires resilient leaders, and businesses, to be economically sustainable to withstand the challenges we face in the future. Involvement in the Dairy Sector fostered an awareness of the challenges business leaders are facing, particularly in terms of leading a team. Curious to learn more, the purpose of this report is to understand how Emotional Intelligence could influence leadership capability in the Primary Sector.

The capability to manage this level of disruption, presents a management challenge to those who operate in the Primary Sector. The same drivers that have delivered performance are no longer adequate to lead success in the future. Although leadership success starts with a vision, a leader’s performance is dependent on their ability to influence the behaviour of their team. It is about the ability to influence beyond positional power, influencing people to work towards a common goal with enthusiasm. Leaders are challenged to cultivate an environment to build capability, inspire the right behaviour and unlock potential; all characteristics underpinning high performing teams.

Parallels were significant between the literature review and the interview process, undoubtedly supporting my anecdotal views that emotional intelligence is a crucial precursor to exemplary leadership. Fifteen dairy business leaders were interviewed and results were analysed, identifying five key themes. Leaders demonstrating higher levels of self-awareness tended to be people focused, they knew themselves, their capabilities, and limitations. Energised to execute with integrity, they were motivated to build relationships and foster an environment for growing others. In times of disruption, they appeared to be adaptive, resilient, and embraced learning opportunities for themselves and their teams. The five themes identified were as follows:

1. Prevalent left wired brain approaches are managing the journey with less awareness of the influence that EQ competencies are contributing to business performance.

2. A disrupted intrinsic compass is inhibiting the growth of our sector. The New Zealand Primary Industry is characterised by industry uncertainty and a lack of emotional and adaptive resilience is influencing the ability to deal with disruption.

3. Disruption is hindering leaders’ capability to energise and execute effectively. Farmers’ coping mechanism is to dig deep, working longer and harder, losing sight of the rituals that energise, tending to be reactive in their behaviour.

4. Task focused leadership methods are skewing the ability to build high trust team relationships. Farmers acknowledged difficulty with understanding the diversity of our finger print on the world, the way you see the world is different to the way another person views the world.

5. Leveraging positional power is impeding the capability to unleash potential and build high performing teams. Conversations with farmers indicated the ‘do as I say and not do as I do” leadership styles are prevalent.

Farmers are passionate about their stock and their pastures. Harvesting the best grass, requires cultivating the best soil for the grass to grow. Breeding the best young stock, cultivating the best pastures, seeking nutrient management advice, and purchasing a big green tractor. These investments all appear to be easily justified. Investment in people, appears to be less of a focus.

People management is indifferent; it is about nurturing the right environment to promote growth. This sets the beat of an organisation. Igniting this type of environment strengthens responsibility and accountability, the potential to increase both productivity and performance. Farmers are proud, and so they should be. It is however this pride and the ‘tall poppy syndrome’ that has been nurtured so well in New Zealand that is inhibiting our ability to lead effectively. Increasing complexity and the rise of the millennial generation will continue to challenge. The best leaders are learners, they are humble when they do not know something and are open to seeking new ideas and processes. Gone are the days where it was thought to be a weakness to acknowledge your shortcomings and seek help.

The pivotal element to drive this change is embracing a whole brain leadership strategy. Building emotional intelligence competencies will aid to engage this holistic attitude.

1. Lead from the inside out by tuning into the intrinsic compass. To lead others, we must first lead ourselves, to lead ourselves, we must know ourselves.

2. Energise to execute. Prioritise Personal Power. The ability to ignite enthusiasm, influence and motivate teams will be driven by leaders with significant personal energy, actively valuing themselves, to be the best person possible.

3. Activate with Purpose. Know your why. A sense of purpose drives feet on the floor every single day. Attract your tribe through a shared value based mindset, igniting the power to shape behaviour.

4. Pilot the focus. Shift to the blue head. Steering your focus is underpinned by the ability to anchor in disruptive environments, acting with edge to make the tough decisions. Focus is either diverted or on track.

5. Flex the social filter to tune into the emotional and social atmosphere of your teams. Connect. One size fits all rules do not apply. A distinguishing factor between those who will thrive will be dependent on the ability to understand what makes your team tick, build relationships and care about people. This does not run through the left brain.

6. Foster a learning climate to unleash potential. Create the right environment for the right behaviours to occur. Fuel the communication through rituals and beliefs that set the beat for the business, the team language shapes the values, values shape behaviour.

New Zealand has the best rugby team. Why? The All Blacks have the best coaches and the best culture. Why? Their actions are underpinned by the belief that leadership is an inside job, it starts with knowing yourself. The Primary Sector can learn from this attitude. The capability to meet the intricacies of an ever-changing business arena and the vision of the Primary Industry for 2025 hinges on fostering a world class learning environment. Learning environments should not only be challenging the intellectual capability but emotional parameters as well if it is to have the opportunity to build a great leader. The obvious barrier is the ability to build on this momentum. Building one’s emotional intelligence will not occur without commitment and effort. A how-to manual will not suffice, this is not for the faint hearted.

I hope this report will stimulate further discussion, both by individual farmers and industry bodies, on the importance of equipping our Primary Sector with the skills to lead from the inside out, adopting a whole brain leadership approach. A determining element is the courage and determination to change. They must want to change. Seismic disruption is an opportunity to lead from the front, high emotional and social intelligence will alter the game. Understanding the intrinsic compass, knowing oneself, is the jumping off point, the key determinant in achieving real change.

Change is unkind to those inflexible in mind. The first to develop a whole brain approach, will do well. The choice is yours.