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Supply Chain Invests In Grassland Management

27 July 2011
EBLEX

UK and NEW ZEALAND - A new project has been launched in the UK and New Zealand to assess how software programmes can be used to improve grassland management on livestock farms.

Funded by EBLEX (UK) and Marks & Spencer (UK), and managed by Silver Fern Farms (NZ), the project will run for 12 months until June 2012 and involves eight beef and sheep farms in England and 10 beef and sheep farms in NZ.

The farmers will use the Farmax farm management software suite, which has been developed in NZ over the last 20 years, to monitor and model how changes in farm and grassland management practice can influence productivity and profitability.

Each farmer is responsible for monthly monitoring and information recording. Farmax consultants will then visit the UK approximately every two months, checking on progress and providing farm management insight and advice. Farmax will provide system support and training for all participants.

Commenting on the project, Steven McLean, agricultural manager at M&S, said: “Agriculture faces many challenges in the future as we deal with climate change, inflation in input prices and pressure on land use as a result of population growth."

"Our M&S Farming for the Future programme is all about working with our supply partners to find innovative ways to address these challenges and this project is a key part of that. Optimising the productivity of grassland brings benefits to all ruminant livestock producers, regardless of the production system that they operate, and this should, in turn, improve profitability on farm, increasing economic sustainability.”

Dr Liz Genever, beef and sheep scientist at EBLEX said: “This project has massive potential to help us understand grass supply and feed demand, which is a first for the English beef and sheep sector. It will also help demonstrate the benefits of improved grazing management for animal performance and profitability."

"The ability to ask ‘what if?’ will help the farmers involved analyse their current systems, and appreciate how any changes will affect their supply and demand.”

Renée Hogg, agricultural manager for Silver Fern Farms and project manager for the Farmax UK Project, added: “Silver Fern Farms, as a New Zealand farmer owned co-operative, is very pleased to be working with UK and NZ farmers to assist farmers to improve their productive capacity."

"Due to the common language and data capture of information through Farmax, we have an opportunity to run comparisons and benchmarking between UK and NZ farm businesses. We have established a set of key performance indicators for the farm businesses taking part in the project. During the next 12 months we hope to gain real insights into what is driving profit and productivity between UK and NZ farms, and look forward to sharing the learnings.”

For more information about the project, visit the Research and Development area of www.eblex.org.uk.

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