At Waitotara on the West Coast of New Zealand’s North Island, David Pearce is the Managing Director of Longview. The operation’s beef and sheep unit runs over 200 hectares of fertile finishing country and 1,755 hectares of coastal sands.
At Longview, there’s a focus on increasing soil carbon while managing pastures for good livestock performance. This work has been helped with the implementation of farm management software.
Stock and grazing records are captured in the field using Agriwebb. “It’s very intuitive, and all the team get familiar with it very easily,” David explains. “The fact that it’s basically smartphone based means it’s very accessible to everybody.”
Grazing management made easy
Longview’s dryland pastures are managed with adaptive multi-paddock grazing, using short grazing intervals and long rest periods. This helps to increase carbon levels in the soil.
Before AgriWebb, keeping track of stock meant a visit to the whiteboard down on the farm, around five kilometres from the farmhouse. Now, it only takes a glance at a mobile phone.
“We find it very useful to be able to see where all the stock are because we’ve got over 230 paddocks, and there’s five-plus staff working on the property,” David says. “No matter where we are, we can pick up on what’s happening, which is great.”
One welcome feature is seeing the “days since grazing” for each paddock displayed on AgriWebb’s farm map. “It’s very helpful in planning the grazing and thinking about where a mob of stock might head to next on the property,” David says.
Animal treatments, such as vaccinations, are also recorded on AgriWebb. “We can bring up the reports and show we are obeying the withholding periods and all that sort of thing, to satisfy the meat companies that run the audits.”
Making decisions backed by data
As well as grazing and livestock management, AgriWebb has given valuable insights into farm productivity. “One thing we have found very useful is to rank the paddocks by how much feed has been grazed off those paddocks, and that’s been a real eye-opener,” David reports.
David was surprised to learn Longview’s best paddocks grow seven times what the worst paddocks grow. “That has been useful from a cost saving point of view,” he says. “We’ve pulled back on fertiliser applications to the lower performing areas. We realised that no matter how much fertiliser we pour onto them, they’re never going to be that spectacular.”
The insights are also valuable for long-term planning. “It gives you a much better feel for the relative economics of different parts of the farm. Some of the less productive paddocks should be used for forestry, and we’ve got people banging on our door, wanting to put in solar farms or wind farms,” David says.
“Decision making is easier when you know what the facts are, rather than using gut-feel. You can justify doing something – or not doing it – much more easily if you know what the productivity really is.”
Managing finances with Figured
Record keeping and reporting has also been streamlined by the implementation of Figured financial management software. The farm budgeting and forecasting tool gives accurate data in one place, in real time.
“It is great to have our share farmer enter all livestock transactions first hand. This assists with the trust in and accuracy of the end results,” David says.
David appreciates having the information stored securely on the cloud. “It’s shared with the accountant, the farm manager and myself. It’s great at keeping track of the livestock tallies with the reconciliations always up to date,” he says.
“It’s accessible 24-7, no matter where you are, so it’s very practical to work with. If someone comes along with a query on something, you can usually find a screen to jump on and get to the detail that’s required.”
Between AgriWebb and Figured, Longview’s farm manager is able to spend less time in the office and more time working on the property. “Farm administration is not something done off farm anymore,” David points out. “It is all done beside the woolshed or the workshop.”
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