Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Ground Effect - Spring 2021


Welcome to the 13th edition of Ground Effect from Ravensdown

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With Garry Diack, Ravensdown CEO

One of the things that attracted me to the CEO job at Ravensdown was the opportunity to join not just one of the country’s great companies, but to formally join a constituency of invested, passionate and truly innovative stewards and architects of the rural economy who significantly influence our national fortunes. The prescient challenges around environmental sustainability, climate change and intensification of land use are the source of debate for all New Zealanders. While as a nation we are still learning how to constructively hold these debates, our shareholders are consistently standing toe to toe with these challenges.  

Committed to smarter farming for a better New Zealand, our publication, Ground Effect, is both a call to action for our industry and a showcase of the commitment that smarter farming throughout the sector is no pipe dream. There are many precedents to follow, and we see Ground Effect as the platform for their celebration and sharing.  

It is both impressive and informative to see contributions from Manaaki Whenua – Landcare Research on soil carbon stocks, or the Our Land and Water National Science Challenge on N and P mitigations.  

Whether you’re new to farming, been around the traps for a while, or returning to the agsector like me, the changing landscape in which we find ourselves means that learning and evolving practices have never been more important, and is indeed stepping up in both pace and involvement.  

Wool has suffered from these changing patterns more than most, so it’s inspirational to see the Ramsden family who farm at iconic Moanaroa Station near Dannevirke work with Big Save Furniture to circumvent the supply chain and add value to their wool clip. Milled wheat and consumer tastes are also put under the microscope by Ivan Lawrie from the Foundation for Arable Research on page 34.  

In the dairy sector, Camden Group in Canterbury show how they’ve managed the nitrogen change to a 190kg/ha limit and the importance of testing and tracking fertiliser use to monitor production.  

Speaking of nitrogen, there’s been a lot of focus on nitrates and drinking water and quite a bit of misinformation, so it’s great that we hear directly from the authority on this subject. Professor Frank Frizelle is a colorectal surgeon and chief advisor to Bowel Cancer New Zealand. He, along with colleague Dr Jacqui Keenan, are eminently more qualified to address this important topic than freshwater ecologists and activists.  

We also visit a young Taupo couple, Ruby Mulinder and Sean Nixon, who, against the odds, have managed to purchase their first farm. They are treading their own path by diversifying into sheep milking while still maintaining a sheep and beef model. On page 20 we see our consultants have been helping with engagement in the Waikato on Farm Environment Planning. The behind-the-scenes policy and advocacy work that the co-operative’s specialists carry out for shareholders is also of enormous value, covered on page 38.  

I hope you find this edition as informative as I did and that these positive examples of how to thrive in a changing landscape inspire new ideas and understanding

I’d love to hear from you at 
Garry Diack, Ravensdown Chief Executive

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