Thursday, 2 April 2020

An update from Greg


Update -02/04/2020

As New Zealand looks back on a week of lockdown, we can reflect on the stories of sacrifice and solidarity that have brought society together. We have all grappled to unite to eliminate COVID-19 in our different ways.

Ravensdown was officially designated an essential service by MPI and government on 27 March and so we’ve been busy helping farmers who needed nutrients in a crucial autumn weather window. 

It’s a privilege to continue operating. We take our mission seriously - to provide essential nutrients to grow food.

We’re open for business and ready to help. Our team is working hard and staying safe. We have product in stock and customers can buy normally: including organising “contactless” on-farm delivery. But it’s far from business as usual. New protocols have been set up, checks have been put in place, offices have been closed and movements have been restricted to ‘essential only’. Soil testing visits and face-to-face environmental consultant services are on hold.

In a totally unexpected situation, Ravensdown people adapted in the ways I’ve come to expect. Driven to do their best for shareholders, they showed flexibility and compassion. The team performing critical roles in areas like the acid plant, manufacturing and the stores have done us proud.

But providing fertiliser means nothing unless spreaders and transporters can complete the last essential step of the supply chain. Their dedication, willingness to comply with the new rules around accessing stores and their patience in the face of some inevitable disruption will be remembered when people look back on this crisis.

Always an over-hyped concept, the rural-urban divide seems like it’s from a bygone era. I believe the generation who will grow up after COVID-19 will definitely be less inclined to take farming for granted. The history books will capture the response of individuals. The economy will count on the contribution of the sector.

That’s all possible in the future. Right now, there’s a job to do. Time to roll up our sleeves and put our shoulder to the task.  That is helping farmers create food that the country desperately needs to feed its own people and those overseas. After all, those export dollars will be helping contribute to the government’s massive investment in kicking COVID into touch.

Update -25/03/2020

The government has currently confirmed Ravensdown provides “an essential service” and that supply of fertiliser, nutrients and other farm inputs should therefore continue even after Level 4 restrictions have been declared.

Staff across our network are working hard to continue operating safely albeit under challenging conditions.

This is a massive responsibility and our processes - which were already at a very high standard - have been tightened. The provision the government has granted us can be withdrawn at any time, so all stakeholders – customers, staff, transporters and spreaders have an interest in knowing the new rules and sticking to them.  In this war on the virus, we are only as strong as the weakest link. If we don’t come across as friendly as usual it’s because the rules are there for everyone and lives can be saved by following them.

When it comes to food-creating fertiliser, manufacturing is ongoing, shipments continue to arrive and stock is available. Purchasing should continue as normal.  “Contactless” on-farm deliveries of products like fertiliser, agchem, seed and animal health products can be arranged online or through calling 0800 100 123.  

We are suspending visits for soil testing nutrient management advice and environmental consultancy unless there are exceptional circumstances.  Our lime quarries are temporarily closed.  While this is an important input to help farmers manage soil acidity, the benefits of aglime are more long term than the immediate yield responses from fertiliser. 

The mission for the whole country is to come together to eliminate the COVID-19 virus while ensuring essential processes such as food production can continue.

Anyone who can work from home is doing so. Only those who are absolutely necessary to the running of the operation are working “at the coalface” and all of them will be working to strict protocols to avoid contact.  We will do everything we can for these employees who are critical for ongoing operations. 

As we may be in for a long haul, your patience is appreciated. Also if attempting to pick-up product, you must observe 2m physical distancing, good hygiene practices and, if unwell, do NOT travel. Facilities at our works and stores are being kept clean and good hygiene practices are being followed and our staff will be isolated.   Sorry but use of the smoko rooms, toilets and other facilities will be restricted.  

More updates will follow.  To avoid clogging up inboxes, we suggest any customers interested in updates during this fast-changing situation follow us on Facebook

Take care and let’s unite to kick COVID into touch and kick on with safe and sustainable food production.