It was more learning today with three major industry visits, starting with DairyNZ research farms in Newstead. It was interesting to see that the major focus of research is on the environmental aspects of farm management. Nitrate levels appear to be one of the biggest issues in dairying in NZ currently, with limits on nitrate and phosphate levels being set in some areas. This has the potential to limit growth in the industry.
It was impressive to see the level of detail that does go into research, particularly with the rye grass cultivar trials. We also saw some quality diverse pastures with lucern, plantain and chicory being grown with rye grass and clover.
After a quick lunch it was onto the Fonterra processing plant in Morrinsville. The plant there produces powders and butter. It was interesting to see the pathway for milk from farmgate to shelf life. Many of the group had never been inside a plant in Australia so this was a great opportunity. The Morrinsville plant (one of thirty three Fonterra sites in NZ) processes 1.4 million litres of milk per day in peak times and runs at or over capacity at all times. This is a relatively small plant for NZ where 80 million litres of milk are processed per day.
Wrightson Seeds demonstration site was next. It was really interesting to see the variety of crops available and the yields they can produce. A message from this site was the importance of proper crop care using fertiliser and sprays to maximise output and return.
Driving through Waikato you see big crops of maize growing everywhere. It is a crop that seems to be highly suitable for suppliment feed in the region. There are a lot of summer crop options including chicory and plantain, forrage rape and other brassica.
Over dinner we met with Hamilton City Young Farmers, a social group for young people in rural professions in the region. It was great to meet with other young people in the industry.