Great leaders start as great followers
arming is a deeply ingrained part of contemporary New Zealand society. For most of the twentieth century, farming was considered the ‘backbone’ of the economy. New Zealand’s temperate climate and fertile soils have supported almost every kind of farming — from sheep and cattle to cropping, horticulture and forestry.
Farming has changed dramatically over time, and with it the shape of many rural communities. Although more than 85 percent of the population now lives in urban areas, the farming sector continues to play a fundamental role in New Zealand’s economy. Farming products, excluding forestry, earn more than 40% of New Zealand’s export income.
Physically, farming dominates New Zealand’s geography. There are about 70,000 farms in the country and over half New Zealand’s land area is classified as farmland. Farming has also played an influential role in the development of New Zealand’s national identity.
Farming has long been associated with the true “kiwi bloke” mentality that people pride themselves on and the rural lowlands and rugged hills of New Zealand are still considered by many people, both urban and rural dwellers alike, to be the heartland of this country.
Each individual farm can be thought of as a system in its own right, a modified ecological system that includes people, crops and livestock within a broader environmental, social and economic context. It is essential to use an efficient record keeping system when examining farming and sustainability. This allows us to understand the reasons behind unsustainable practices and to develop long-term solutions to problems.
There is a fundamental shift in the expectations of farming which places greater responsibility on farmers for outcomes beyond the farm. This shifting of goal posts is partly a consequence of dairy farming’s own success and growth. It is also due to a growing public awareness of the long-term consequences of unsustainable behaviour.
Taking responsibility for the wider outcomes of farming implies more than simply meeting some minimum standard of behaviour specified in regulation. Acting more responsibly requires farmers to make deliberate choices that provide greater benefits even where that is not required by regulation. Farmers must lead the way!
As a nation our strategic focus is on increasing the efficiency of our farms, particularly in terms of the management and investment decisions that drive our efficiency. It applies to all farm systems, and there are opportunities across the spectrum. The key to this is greater engagement on the farm with your immediate team and all involved.
Communication with farm consultants and other professional advisory is vital to understand opportunity and support improved practices and decision-making. Achieving on-farm change is highly dependent on motivation, access to information, and the transfer of knowledge through direct support and technologies.
Agrimap is helping farming enterprises in New Zealand and across the globe achieve the above. We have produced a foundation-level solution to assist farmers in moving forward in a way that the end user can understand. There are many complex software’s available, but for a demographic that is just getting up to speed with emailing, this is a huge undertaking.
By using Agrimap the farmer is showing strategic leadership and vision for environmentally sustainable farming within the sector. When events and daily operations on a farm are recorded in our software, practices can be easily accessed for assessment and viewed by the relevant people.
This reliable data will inform and demonstrate any changes that need to be made to the farmer’s current systems. If something isn’t looking flash they can look back at the records and see where the problem came from. The identification of trends both good and bad will vastly improve the health of the environment and potential threats to natural capital.