Day 8

The Cross Slat drill pulled by the John Deere 8220
The group departed from the hotel in Ashburton this morning and headed to RADFIELD FARM owned by David and Hilary Ward. This is an irrigated crop and livestock farm situated on 385 hectares (951 acres). They grow Italian Rye grass, White and Red clover, spinach, oats, winter wheat, Brassica for grazing, and Corn salad (old French herb). They also grow processing peas and carrots for seed. One way they were trying to be sustainable was the water that was produced from a local vegetable processing facility was irrigated back onto the crops. This process recycles nutrients back into the cropping system. The producer also finishes 20,000 lambs a year, and 1,000 deer a year. They buy lambs at 30 kilograms (66 pounds) and feed to 48 kilograms (106 pounds), which they graze on the crops throughout the year. With all of the sheep grazing on the crops, they also irrigate the land with the capability of 5 millimeters a day. The pest management style is to protect the beneficial insects rather than kill them.

Students asking questions to the producer about the drill.
They also use no till practices on their land to ensure that the soil will be farmable for future generations. David showed us a drill in operation, the cross slot drill. This places a small seed to maintain friable soil structure. Soil aeration is done by earthworms and root structures, making a great platform to grow livestock and crops.  This practice builds organic material and crops and fertilizer in one pass. The drill was designed in New Zealand by John Baker and is used worldwide. This drill ensures the seed is not damaged by the fertilizer but utilizes the fertilizer to the full effect. The drill does a great job in cutting the residue and ensuring the seed is properly placed for maximum germination.
Sheep grazing on the farm
Deer grazing on the farm

New Zealand is not too far from America and it is easy to get a hold of equipment in the US. David got a piece of equipment from Nebraska that he uses today which is a 2011 Case IH 8230. He utilizes this combine because he believes it is gentle on the seed and is the best fit for his operation. Another piece of equipment that he utilizes is a John Deer 8220.

Cattle in the holding area with the chain arm above
We then went our separate ways in the town to eat lunch and do a little shopping. We met back on the bus to head to the dairy farm just a little bit out of town. Ted and Sue have 380 hectares (940 acres) on the property they currently have 5 pivots and working towards 6. When we first pulled up, the milk truck was collecting the milk to be sent to Fonterra. Fonterra runs similarly to a coop in the US. We headed to the parlor where we learned that he had a 70 cow rotary parlor, and, in the peak of milking, he can milk 1,500 cows in 4 hours. All of the cattle have an RFID ear tag so the workers know who is in the parlor at what time. This information can be used for effective herd management including breeding and dry off. They had the Kiwi cross (Holsteins and Jerseys), that produces a fat content of 5.5 and a protein of 4.5 on 4,500 liters of milk. The cows are brought into the holding area, and the gates within the holding area can be manipulated using a touch screen computer. When the cows are stubborn and do not want to go into the parlor, an automated chained arm moves the cattle towards the parlor so there is one less person needed.  To reduce mastitis, they use either a short term sealer or a long term sealer depending on the severity of the infection. They also used Fodder Beets as a grazing supplement that the cattle love to eat in the winter months.

Worker putting milkers on the cow
New Zealand farmers are driven to be more efficient because the government mandates it. They have pushed the farmers to minimize pollution and maximize production. Both operations have transitioned into some of the most advanced technologies to manage their inputs. This includes transitioning from flood dike to center pivot irrigation.
The group standing in the Fodder Beet field

Cody, Jacob, Katelyn