Tuesday, 18 August 2020

Growing food through COVID-19 – nutrient services essential (again)


As farming gears up for a busy spring, farm nutrient provider Ravensdown has been given the green light as an essential service as it was during previous levels 3 and 4.

Back in autumn, farmers were catching up on fertiliser and feed as they tried to recover from a crippling drought. A potentially COVID-disrupted spring places different demands on the farm nutrient and environmental experts as soil tests, fertiliser recommendations, nutrient budgets and farm environmental plans need to be generated.

“Our network will be operating as before ensuring the essential nutrients remain available as farmers grow the food for people and livestock,” said Bryan Inch General Manager Customer Relationships. “The team of on-farm advisors will try to do what they can remotely, but unlike the last lockdown, on really important occasions they will need to visit a farm. Of course, they will check ahead and comply with the relevant government advice around safe interaction.”

How Ravensdown responded to the last COVID-19 lockdown and how its positioned for future uncertainty is detailed in its 2019/20 annual integrated report. There was a growth in online ordering and in use of a mapping system that helps compliance by showing how much fertiliser has gone where. “These services help farmer shareholders optimise production while reducing their environmental impact, so it really is essential work,” he said.  

Performance under pressure: some metrics from the 2019/20 Integrated Report.

  • Hours of environmental consultancy delivered increased 29% (over 17,000 in total).
  • Precision aerial spreading was used on 40% more land (152,765 hectares in total).
  • Core emissions reduced by 5.3%, on course for the target 15% reduction by 2030.
  • Maintained funding for physical infrastructure ($28m) and Research & Development ($5m).

“Despite the last lockdown, the shipping, logistics, stores, spreading and manufacturing teams ensured a dependable supply of food creating nutrients. As we face a future of potential periodic COVID restrictions, this matters to all New Zealanders. They need food and jobs and the country needs export income to pay for social services and the nation’s economic recovery,” concluded Bryan.