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CHB Mail - 2021-11-25

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Forum eye on soil nutrient efficiency

TUKI TALK

Brenda Vowden brenda.vowden@nzme.co.nz

With more demands placed on farmers having to comply with the latest regulations in their industry, an event to help them navigate the future of farming is being held in a couple weeks. Farming for a Successful Future, run by Farm Nutrient Advisory Ltd, is a sustainable farming event to support farmers with the environmental and consumer demands they face. “Farm efficiency and profitability have never been more important,” says organiser Melinda Turner. Melinda says the idea of the event came about after she had been working in the agricultural sector for more than a decade and had been disappointed with the lack of independently run events. “Most events are promoting selling seeds or fertiliser in some shape or form, with very little focus on farming principles such as ruminant nu- trition and pasture management. In my opinion, these two areas have the most potential for simple yet very effective nutrient efficiency and profitability improvements.” In 2017, Melinda started her own business as an independent fertiliser and nutrient consultant. She says organising an event such as this has always been on her “to-do” list. “In between family commitments and studying my master's degree in livestock health and production, it's just taken a while for me to organise, but I hope for it to be a success and also run similar events in the future.” Melinda believes events like this are important as much of the information available is not independent, which encourages farmers to increase farm inputs, often leading to diminishing returns. “So while their production may increase, their profits decrease. “Through improving the basic farming principles and nutrient inputs, production efficiency improves, inputs are minimised with consequential increase in profits. This leads to a sustainable business which is a challenge for many farmers with today's and tomorrow's increasing regulation and consumer demand.” She says Napier was chosen for the event, which aims to provide information to help farms succeed long term, because it is centrally located for droughtprone areas where climate change resilience and sustainability are most needed. “Most East Coast farms and even Taupo are within a reasonable drive. “My passion is connecting the soil fertility to plant and animal health — farmers' profits come from the stock after all, not the soil directly, which I think is often forgotten when applying fertilisers. If the pasture or crop is beyond what the animal can utilise efficiently, or there is such imbalance in the soil that the plants cannot access the nutrients, this all impacts of farm productivity and profits.” Five independent scientists who can apply their expertise to each of these areas of nutrient efficiency without bias to company products or services were chosen as speakers for the event , Melinda says. All profits are going to the Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter service. “Being rural and often isolated, many farmers either know someone or have experienced themselves, the essential services of the rescue helicopter so naturally I thought it was a fitting choice for the target audience.” With the current Covid status, tickets are limited to 100. In the case of another lockdown or level increase, the event will be postponed to a future date and ticket-holders will be refunded. “I am incredibly thankful for the support of our sponsors, and most of our speakers and MC have donated their time to help this good cause.”

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