Fieldays arrived, El Nino on the way

with Bill Webb
Bill Webb Feed Solutions

If you think the last year has been wet, you’re not wrong.

In the year June 1, 2022, to May 31, 2023, we recorded 4951mm of rain at the farm in Ohauiti.

Put into context that is just under five metres of rain – two-and-a-half times the normal average rainfall of 2000mm!

At the yard in Paengaroa we had 2315.5mm for the same period. That’s more than 1000mm more than the previous year.

And here’s another startling statistic – in the year to May 31, 2023, the longest period without rain was just seven days! This brings into focus why the whole country is enjoying more than 10 days of sunshine in early-June.

The MetService is predicting an El Nino signal has started in the tropical Pacific Ocean and almost all climate commentators are predicting a significant full blown El Nino will be in place by the end of winter. El Nino is literally a
reversal of the unrelenting wet weather we’ve experienced during the last year - i.e: it can be extremely dry conditions.

Grass growth

Grass growth is lower than usual due to saturated soil conditions and not much sun and low-lying farms are still struggling for grass growth.

Despite a good start to the growing season, pasture yields are down more than they have been in recent years were in previous years due again to that unending rain and low sunshine hours.

Another interesting perspective on the low yields is that we are feeding our cows an additional 20 per cent of daily intake giving them 30m2 each per day supplemented of course with silage and bought-in feed.

We are now well into the dairy grazer season with dairy grazers on the farm. Traditionally, sending the cows away for winter spearheads a time when farmers can step back and get a few days or, hopefully, weeks away from the farm – ideally somewhere warm and sunny. One of the advantages of getting away from the farm is the wider perspective it provides on the season you’ve had and what you can do to prepare for the season ahead.

I was interested to recently read that insurance companies have quantified that the claims, which arose from the Auckland Anniversary and Gabrielle cyclones, dwarf those which resulted from both the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes. Yet more evidence the weather has knocked the country around.

Drier conditions – hopefully!

Moving forward hopefully we can look forward to a drier winter with better feed utilisation for dairy grazers and dry conditions for calving.

The first few months of the dairy season are some of the most demanding of the year in terms of the need for the varied grass growth needed for springers, dry cows and milkers so we need to be planning for that demand now.

As I write this the National Fieldays are just a few days away. The event is a drawcard for farmers, lifestyle blockers and urbanites interested and supportive of New Zealand’s agricultural industries.

The Mystery Creek Fieldays is the biggest agricultural event in Australasia attended by people from across the country. The event languished in the Covid years with the traditional June date thrown out by lockdowns so it is great to be back to a winter event when farmers can generally afford to take a day, or days, off to attend.

Morale booster

It is not possible to put a value on field days. Granted, they are a chance to see the latest innovations, not only in machinery, but also technology, and to see and compare pricing and offerings for that new piece of equipment but one of the most important aspects is the unique opportunity it provides for farmers to mix with fellow farmers and gain a wider perspective of how different farmers and regions have fared during the season, and predictions for the season ahead. In that regard the Mystery Creek Fieldays is one of the biggest morale boosters for everyone involved in the agricultural industries, and here’s hoping it will be a successful event for everyone involved.

We have milking quality silage bales, hay and straw available at the moment and we are taking orders for bulk grass silage which will be delivered to your farm in spring.


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