Wairarapa’s premier sustainable farming seminar is kicking off for the sixth year running – boasting its first international speaker.
Registration is now open for the annual Farming for the Future conference, hosted in the region since 2013, to be held at Carterton Events Centre on March 27.
The one-day event will feature presentations from a range of primary industry experts. Topics are targeted at farmers and farm industry specialists looking to adapt farming and business practices in a rapidly changing environment.
The 2019 conference will include talks from experts on goat dairy and ethical milking, clean water policy, and new research into managing agricultural emissions.
The keynote speaker is Gary Hirshberg, renowned in the United States for taking Stonyfield Farms from start-up to a global leader in organic dairy.
Farming for the Future is the brainchild of the South Wairarapa Biodiversity Group (SWBG) and organised in partnership with the Mangaterere Restoration Society (MRS).
Its first seminar was at the Martinborough Wine Centre and has since grown to host more than 150 people from all over the country.
MRS member and soil scientist Esther Dijkstra, says the seminar aims to help farmers and farm industry specialists find creative yet practical solutions for their businesses in a time of increased environmental awareness and rapidly changing climate.
“We ask our speakers to tailor their presentations so they’re relevant for the local audience.
“That way, attendees can take home new ideas and implement them on their own farms and support other farmers making similar changes.
“We want people to come away feeling energised and ready to try new things to enhance their farming, industry or policy practices. Agriculture is a critical contributor to our economy and our communities, and we need to do all we can to help make sure farming in New Zealand is responsive, resilient and cuttingedge.”
This year’s conference will feature five major speakers, with Radio NZ journalist and presenter Susie Ferguson as Master of Ceremonies.
Hirshberg helped set up Stonyfield Farms in 1983 in Londonderry, New Hampshire – starting out with a small herd of seven cows, he and business partner Samuel Kayman began a milking operation free of pesticides, chemical fertilisers and artificial hormones.
The farmers started selling their yoghurt to fund their organic farming school – and their products eventually became a hit, allowing the operation to expand to include more than 1000 cows and a network of hundreds of family farms. Hirschberg now gives presentations on organic agriculture the world over.
The NZ speakers include clean water policy campaigner Marnie Prickett; Sinead Leahy from the NZ Agricultural Greenhouse Gas Research Centre; and Canterbury farmer Glen Herud – well known for founding a dairying system that allows bobby calves to remain with their mothers while milking.
The featured Wairarapa presenter will be Martinborough’s Amanda Goodman, cofounder of The Drunken Nanny, an awardwinning producer of artisan, gate-to-plate goat’s cheese, kefir and pasteurised milk.
Dijkstra says the event gives farmers, industry specialists, scientists and policy makers the opportunity to bounce off each other, and share ideas.
“It will be a good networking opportunity – they can meet people outside of their usual circles who can help them come up with local and sustainable solutions.”
Sponsorship means the seminar is affordable at only $50 per person for general admission.nz

AUTOMATION IN TEAT CARE

GEA FIL’s intelligent new Auto Mix + Spray unit sets a gold standard in teat spraying, providing farmers with an accurately mixed solution, applied ‘fresh’ at every milking. Accurately mixing and using teat spray to combat seasonal differences is the critical factor to maintaining teat condition, FIL national manager Colin May says.
“Farmers may be using the best products, but teat spray solutions can vary widely depending on who does the mixing, and their level of understanding of what’s required to combat seasonal differences,” May says.
“Most teat sprays suggest a ratio mix, like 1 to 6 or 1 to 9, which can be confusing. Adding extra emollient adds yet another level of complexity.
“97% accurate, the Auto Mix + Spray takes human error and guess work out of hand mixing.
“We help farmers tailor a teat care plan with recommended mix rates to meet seasonal changes – the rates can be locked into the Auto Mix + Spray memory for daily use, until it’s time to select a different ratio.”
When environmental conditions change, or a deterioration in teat condition is detected, the Auto Mix + Spray settings can be altered at single percentage ratios (between 5 and 20%) to counter negative influences on teat condition.
The unit is pressurised, meaning it can be retrofitted into a wet-it or wand system, an ambic system or on-platform spraying systems like iPUD. It can also be used as a standalone unit.
“In line with best practice, the Auto Mix + Spray ensures that teat spray is mixed and applied ‘fresh’ every milking – this is especially good where there’s poor water quality onfarm.”
The new GEA FIL Auto Mix + Spray unit launches at the Central Districts Field Days with a teat care deal that could save you $2500. Or phone 0508 434 569 for more information.