Dorset farmers learn from NZ


Father and daughter farming team James and Georgie Cossins are facing their earliest harvest since 1976.

Despite the early harvest, they took an evening out to host an AHDB Monitor Farm meeting at their farm near Blandford.

The highlight of the Monitor Farm evening was an insight into Kiwi farmers’ experiences, thanks to Allister Holmes from the Foundation for Arable Research in New Zealand.

Similar to the UK, there is increasing environmental awareness, monitoring and regulation in New Zealand, with cost implications for farmers there. In reaction to this, more Kiwi farmers are adopting min-till cultivation practices.

Farmers at the meeting also heard how New Zealand’s agriculture is intensifying, with more investment into infrastructure and more farm debt. Arable land there is switching to livestock production for higher returns to meet higher fixed cost structure.

Farmers at the meeting walked crops of spring barley, rape and winter wheat, discussing agronomy and finances.

Philip Dolbear, AHDB Knowledge Exchange Manager, said: “With the threat of a reduced basic payment, the challenge ahead is to either save or make an extra £200 per hectare from the arable rotation and other enterprises on the farm.”

For the most productive areas of the farm it will be a challenge of ‘more from less’, while other areas will need to be farmed for the optimum output, rather than the maximum.

Philip added: “The thing that was really clear at this meeting is how much of a balance farming is. Whether it’s crop establishment, cover crops or staff management, there’s always a debate.

“It was really clear how flexible farmers need to be, to meet the challenges of the future.

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