Monday, 7 February 2022

Massey University short courses deliver wins


With the increased requirement for robust, professional advice around nutrient management and environmental protection on-farm, Ravensdown has made a commitment to upskilling staff in Farm Environment Plan (FEP) guidance via Massey University’s short course offerings.

Working in close collaboration with Ravensdown, Massey University has developed New Zealand Agricultural Systems and Farm Environmental Planning courses at both intermediate and advanced levels. The courses supply the nutrient management and farm environmental planning skills required to meet the agreed future greenhouse gas emissions and freshwater regulatory requirements.

With increased regulation in the environment space, both the intermediate and advanced FEP modules are proving popular options. They have attracted interest from professionals across the farming sector, including private consultancies, regional and local councils, government, and other fertiliser companies.

Ravensdown’s General Manager of Innovation and Strategy, Mike Manning, has collaborated with Massey University on short course delivery since 2002.

“We need all our field team, from graduates right up to our most experienced agri managers, to feel confident they can deliver what is expected for shareholders. These courses help with that – the staff come out knowing they can deliver on the knowledge gained and they’ve passed an exam which shows they are competent," says Mike.

Ravensdown’s field team is increasingly being asked to offer advice and assistance to farmers wanting to create auditable FEPs. Work will soon begin on developing freshwater farm modules to get farmers compliant with new regulations emerging in that area.

“Ravensdown sees its scope for advice really being around nutrients. We won’t do the traditional financial budgets that a farm consultant would, and we won’t get directly involved too much in enteric methane reduction for instance," says Mike.

“But we will get involved with nitrous oxide because that’s associated with nitrogen cycling, and we will get involved with nitrate leaching and phosphate movement because these are all important in a nutrient management sense.”

Agri Manager Ryan Tate says the Massey University short courses have been ideal for helping him to meet the changing needs of his client base across South Taranaki, Rangitīkei and Manawatū.

He’s seen his role at Ravensdown evolve over nearly 14 years, from providing mostly fertiliser advice to now supporting his clients through compliance and management challenges.

“Our clients expect us to know what it takes to complete an FEP, so having a short course tailored to that is ideal for getting upskilled and updated on what’s needed,” he says.

He’s attended several short courses over the past few years, including the Intermediate Farm Environment Planning course recently. He says the quality of the work delivered by the Massey staff is high.

Regional Environmental Specialist Thomas Taylor also recently completed the same farm planning course and found it was a good confidence builder for him when delivering advice to his Hawke’s Bay clients.

“The course is designed to give you the confidence to discuss what is required in an FEP and complete a plan.

“It takes you through the influence of geology, impact of types of erosion, the sources of contaminates and pathways to loss, understanding land use classification and land management units and mitigation strategies,” Thomas says.

“The final part of the course was to complete a desktop Freshwater Plan to identify the water quality risks on the property and mitigate those risks using maps, supplied farm and regional information, and data.”

A total of 68 Ravensdown staff have now undertaken Massey’s short courses and total enrollment of industry professionals has now surpassed 4,300.

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