Farming Matters with Andrew Jackson

An update with Valerie & Andrew Jackson

The obvious way to begin this newsletter is by acknowledging the deluge that occurred during the greater part of August. Well done to the farmers who had some positive newspaper exposure, regarding animal welfare and the constant rain. It’s great for us as farmers to be cast as the heroes rather than villains occasionally. I’m sure from the public’s perspective it was refreshing to see us in a different light to the one usually played out in the media. Farming continues its roller coaster ride, with falling returns and higher input costs. Although none of that’s new of course, we are all in this together. We’re still shuddering from some increases in the costs associated with running a contracting business, especially having just paid our insurance premiums.


Dairy Conversion: Infant Stages

The dairy conversion has been a learning curve, with some highs and some lows thrown in there as well. We have learnt a lot about the effects of poor pasture quality and I’m sure we are going to learn about the idiosyncrasies associated with dry-land dairy farming in Mid Canterbury very quickly. We are thankful to our sharemilkers Dario and Rosanna Roma and their team for their brilliant efforts and positive attitude.


Cost Saving: For Tight Times

There are always areas of our business that we can re-focus on. In times of falling returns, one of the largest expenses for farmers is feed conservation. It’s an expense that is often expressed in cents per kilogram but a few moments on a calculator can bring some nasty surprises to your attention. Some smarter decisions made during the silage season can make a huge difference to the cost of a job we are doing.
As an example; let’s say we’re baling 40ha of high quality spring grass silage. It’s going to yield 3,500 kgDM/ha, So 140,000 kgDM total. The grass is being purchased for $0.20/kgDM, and its 30km away from the dairy farm.

Example A, with poor decisions made:
• Mow with a non-conditioner disc mower $55/ha
• Poor wilting and no tedding
• Bale at 25%DM
• Claas 3400 square bales
  weigh 950kg x 25%DM = 237kgDM per bale
• 590 bales off 40ha

590 bales x $30/bale                            Rake/Bale/Tube-wrap             $17,700
590 bales x $8/bale                              Cartage                                       $4,700
40ha x $55/ha                                        Mowing                                       $2,200
140,000 kgDM x $0.20/kgDM             Grass                                           $28,000
Total: $52,620

Therefore the cost delivered is $0.375/kgDM!

Example B, now let’s be smarter about this:
• Mow with a correctly set mower-conditioner $70/ha
• We run through with our Lely tedder $30/ha
• Bale at 45%DM
• Claas 3400 square bales
  weigh 750kg x 45%DM = 337kgDM per bale
• 415 bales off the same 40ha

415 bales x $30/bale                            Rake/Bale/Tube-wrap             $12,450
515 bales x $8/bale                              Cartage                                       $3,320
40ha x $70/ha                                        Mowing                                       $2,800
40ha x $30/ha                                        Tedding                                       $1,200
140,000 kgDM x $0.20/kgDM             Grass                                           $28,000
Total: $47,770

The same area delivered for $0.34/kgDM, saving $4850! Reminding us of the old adage “if you keep an eye on the cents the dollars will look after themselves”


End Of An Era: A Legend Passes

One of life’s “good sorts” passed away a couple of weeks ago. Mark Moodie from Methven was a local character and very well known amongst the farming community. Having worked in the agricultural contracting industry all his life, he had vast local knowledge. Mark always had time for a yarn and will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with his family.


Feed Trading: Onwards And Upwards

Bruce Lilley has been with us for almost 12 months now. We’ve found him to have a wealth of farming knowledge which has proved invaluable in his role as our Feed Trading Representative. Bruce is honest and integrity is high on his list of qualities. Thanks for the past 12 months Bruce; you’ve done a sterling job.

Andrew Jackson - Farming Matters Machines