B+LNZ launches North Canterbury Future Farm

Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s inaugural Future Farm opened its gate to North Canterbury farmers and other dignitaries last week launching a whole new initiative for the organisation.
Wednesday, 14 November 2018

The Future Farm, which is operated by the North Canterbury Future Farm Limited Partnership (NCFF), leases Lanercost, a 1310ha hill country sheep and beef property near Cheviot from the TD Whelan Trust.

The NCFF shareholders are B+LNZ and Lanercost 2018 Ltd which is a partnership between local farmers Simon Lee, Carl Forrester and Julia Whelan.

B+LNZ CEO Sam McIver said the organisation’s vision for the Future Farm was to inspire vibrant farming communities by demonstrating farming excellence. This aligns with the organisation’s wider strategy and vision of “profitable farmers, thriving farming communities valued by all New Zealanders.”

He said B+LNZ was investing in the Future Farm on behalf of farmers to demonstrate profitable farming while addressing emerging opportunities and impending challenges.

“We’ve grappled for some years with how we assess emerging issues, leading-edge technologies and the need for continuous productivity increases and product-value gains – in the context of the whole farm business.”

He described the Future Farm as moving away from a focus on single-component change to looking at the impact of management and technology changes on the whole farm system.

Listing the Future Farm’s goals, Sam says they aim to demonstrate exemplary business performance from both a production and financial perspective.

“We aim to be in the top five per cent profit-wise for farms of a similar class, to develop people who grow to be industry leaders and to demonstrate best-practice environmental management.”

They also aim to be customer-focused so their production systems need to meet the New Zealand Farm Assurance Programme production standards and Taste Pure Nature market criteria will be the minimum benchmark.

Another key element is environmental management and stewardship. Lanercost will be operating within the highest environmental standards and showing leadership around environmental issues.

While the farm needs to be productive and profitable, Sam says the partnership is committed to testing and trying new technologies and management systems on behalf of farmers.

“We will be taking risks but they will be well calculated risks because we have the support and input of a wider group of high-performing farming farmer, technical experts and researchers helping us assess the feasibility of change and the potential whole farm impact.”

An advisory panel – made up of farmers, technical experts and researchers – will be providing guidance to NCFF Board, while Digby Heard, with the help of Tim Waghorn (both employed by NCFF) will be managing the farm on a day-to-day basis.

A Board made up of Sam McIvor, Kate Acland, Simon Lee, Carl Forrester and Hamish Frazer will be providing governance to the partnership.

Speaking at the launch, Simon Lee told farmers that they put themselves forward to be part of the Future Farm to benefit the community.

“The Hurunui has been through a lot with the drought and earthquake so an opportunity to for this farm to be the Future Farm was too good to pass up.

“This is not our farm, it’s your farm.”

Both Simon and Sam stressed the need for transparency so both the wider North Canterbury community and farmers nationwide can relate to the farm and take confidence and caution from what has been achieved – or not achieved.

A Future Farm webpage is up and running, with an full stand alone website eventually envisaged which will have management updates and farm data such as pasture growth rates and livestock performance.

The farm runs 3500 mixed-age Romney-based ewes and 300 Hereford/Angus cows, but as the Partnership started from zero, they are still in a building phase in terms of livestock.

To get the farm up and running, the management team has completed a Farm Environment Plan, put in place a Farm Safety Management System, animal health plan, biosecurity plan, undertaken a comprehensive soil health assessment and nutrient programme and completed a farm Assurance Programme audit.

Simon says they had to source ewes from different places and while the ram went out the day the ewes arrived, these ewes have performed well scanning 186 per cent in the mixed-age ewes and 158 per cent in the two-tooths.

Lanercost has good infrastructure including good fences, tracks and a water system, many of the pastures need renewing and they will be looking to grow 90ha of crop annually.

Visit the Future Farm webpage for more information.