Farmers embrace precision spreading
On-going environmental pressures on farmers have had an exciting twist for ground spreading company Mainland Spreading, who after many years of having various spreading technologies available, is now fi nding a demand for them, particularly in the Aoraki region.
In 2015, the Schultz family and Ravensdown formed a joint venture comprising three established spreading businesses in Aoraki, Otago, and Southland.
Mainland Spreading clients are free to choose whichever fertiliser suppliers and products they want spread on their farms.
Managing director John Schultz says while technologies such as variable rate application and exclusion zones have been available for some time, further environmental requirements have recently seen some uptake of these technologies.
“Farmers are also starting to recognise the environmental and economic benefi ts of precision application,” he says. “We have long had the capabilities, but we needed both uptake and up-to-date information from the farmer.
Many farmers are now soil testing and farm mapping as part of their nutrient budget. We then upload the applicable information onto our truck’s computers.
“Once the job is completed, farmers can then access the Proof of Placement maps as part of their nutrient plan records.”
John foresees a growing demand for these technologies as farmer awareness of the benefi ts increases.
“Rather than using a blanket approach, Variable Rate Application means farmers can use less nitrogen and phosphate on areas such as effluent paddocks, and either apply more nitrogen and phosphate on the areas that will benefit from it, or they can reduce their total fertiliser usage. Either way, the farmer gets more bang for his buck.”
For exclusion zones, Mainland Spreading uses information from the farmer to identify ‘no-go areas’.
“Exclusion zones achieve two main objectives: one is to protect the environment; and the second is to keep our people safe on our clients’ farms. The customer may also choose to exclude areas such as around troughs and gateways, or low productive land.”
This past season, Mainland Spreading Aoraki has been hot on biosecurity, since the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis in Canterbury.
“Aoraki was the first region the M. bovis disease was identified. So since last season we initiated between-farm cleaning protocols to stop the spread of the disease,” John says.
“We’ll continue this as long as we need to We consulted extensively with our clients to make them aware of our procedures, and to alleviate any concerns.
“That consultation, combined with our cleaning protocols, has given us and our customers the confi dence we are doing all that we can to mitigate this biosecurity threat.”
John says Mainland Spreading is only in business because of its clients.
“Our customers have deemed the work we do is specialised enough for them to use us. It’s something we keep at the forefront of our minds all the time.
“Unlike many other transport companies, spreading fertiliser is all that we do. We’ve got to be professional and add value.”
Mainland Spreading is very much a family-run business with John and his wife Nivonne, son Cameron, and daughter Kylie all involved.
They are a family of farmers who have a powerful insight into their clients’ requirements.
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