Wednesday, 9 February 2022

Welcome to the 14th edition of Ground Effect from Ravensdown


With Mike Manning, Ravensdown General Manager Innovation and Strategy.

It’s a privilege to write the preface to Ground Effect which continues its focus on the science and stories behind smarter farming. At a time when greenhouse gas emissions, water quality and sustainable production are rightly front and centre, this 14th edition highlights farmer examples, thought leader perspectives and innovative solutions.

Dominating attention at the moment is the He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN) collaborative effort on accounting for and reducing agricultural GHG emissions. At the time of writing, farmers were being introduced to the options and it's fair to say that each comes with its own set of challenges.

We hear from the programme director of HWEN, Beef + Lamb NZ as well as DairyNZ about the seriousness of the issue and the scale of opportunity to demonstrate leadership in managing the sector’s impact on climate. Warren Parker, chairman of the Forestry Ministerial Advisory Group outlines the potential for carbon sequestration and offsetting by native and exotic species.

Policy aside, there are real solutions being worked on such as EcoPond, a new system that virtually eliminates all methane from dairy effluent ponds. Read more about the newest ‘tool in the methane box’ developed by Lincoln University scientists and Ravensdown. Phil Journeaux also covers some exciting progress in genetics such as low-methane emitting rams and bulls.

While there are plenty of medium-and long-term technologies being worked on to mitigate methane, the EcoPond solution is based on robust science and is capable of being installed in the near term. As an aside, it was a real pleasure to see Professors Keith Cameron and Hong Di awarded the highest annual science honour in New Zealand – the Royal Society’s Pickering Medal – for their work on ClearTech.

Senior Agri Manager James Livingston discusses how potash super can propel clover yields, while Agri Manager Andrée Callaghan outlines the importance of avoiding any molybdenum-deficiency handbrake on clover growth.

Dr Ants Roberts discusses the importance of soil biology and the dangers of misinformation in that area. As rural communities face the strain of multiple challenges, Craig ‘Wiggy’ Wiggins shares his approach to mental health and wellbeing.

We hear from two farmers in very different parts of the world but both building a farming legacy with their young families. The Germanns in Southland are an integral part of a local community catchment initiative, while the Steeghs in Taupō focus on a ‘pasture first’ and ‘keep it simple’ mentality – to great effect.

Ravensdown has helped both families with Whole Farm Soil Testing to target variability in paddock fertility as well as reducing their nitrogen use.

Having been involved with setting up the first Massey University short courses on nutrient management two decades ago, it’s incredibly satisfying to see their new curriculum on farm environment planning. You can read about that and how our customer-facing team is benefitting.

All in all, anyone interested in smarter farming will be spoilt for choice in this edition. If you are interested in any of the stories or insights in this publication or if you think Ravensdown can help you in any way, I know the team would welcome your call.


Ground Effect