Strong interest shown for Future Farm programme

Richard Wakelin
Richard Wakelin, B+LNZ.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s search for a ‘Future Farm’ is in its final stages and farmers are being urged to get in touch if they’re interested in being part of this unique programme.

B+LNZ is seeking to lease a hill country sheep and beef property with around 6,000 stock units for the Future Farm, which will trial new technologies and farm systems.

The project is part of B+LNZ’s strategy to support farming excellence and lift farm productivity and profitability.

Richard Wakelin, B+LNZ’s general manager innovation, says the response has been excellent and the organisation will shortly draw up a final short-list of farms.

“Farmers are seeing significant benefits to leasing their farm to, or partnering with B+LNZ to run a fully commercial livestock enterprise.

“There has been interest from farming families evaluating their next steps and from farm businesses looking to develop and support a closer connection with urban New Zealand. However, we still want to hear from farmers so they will need to get in quick.”

The level of enquiry has led the project team to start evaluating the original model of a single farm, and to start considering how other farms may be connected to the primary Future Farm, says Wakelin.

“We remain open-minded to the structure of the lease or partnership arrangement; the critical aspect is having the right farm with the right people around it.”

The farm will feature state-of-the-art monitoring, measuring and communications technologies while maintaining and demonstrating strong commercial principles.

“The primary objective is for the farm to be a fully commercial model, and only those technologies proven elsewhere to work on farm will be applied.

“Once operating, it will demonstrate excellence in every facet of farming under a strictly commercial framework.

“The property has to be authentic, so when a farmer looks over the property they can relate to it as an operating farm, not a research or demonstration farm.”

As the Future Farm aims to push the boundaries of high-performance in all areas, including people, environment, livestock and forages, it will manage the risk of using new technologies so other farmers don’t have to.

“The aim is for farmers to be able to observe, learn and assess the feasibility of how these might be applied to their own situation.”

A steering group of farmers will evaluate the options and a final decision will be made by B+LNZ’s board in early 2018.

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