Marlborough Farmer of the Year field day provides insight into high performing business

The Avery family has long been associated with lucerne, the plant that transformed Bonaveree, their Seddon-based farming operation and their lives.
Sunday, 22 November 2020

But there is so much more to Avery’s business and over 300 attendees got to look under the bonnet of their high-performance operation in October when the family hosted the Westpac and Bayleys Marlborough Sheep and Beef Farmer of the Year field day.

The family won the award in 2019 and the field day, initially planned in autumn, was delayed due to COVID-19.

Spring proved an ideal time to host an interested farming community as it showed the family’s farming system in full-swing.

Talking at the field day, Fraser Avery says theirs was a business focused on continual improvement and giving animals every opportunity to reach their genetic potential through management and nutrition.

He says they aimed to lead the farming industry through demonstrating and perfecting the vision they had defined for the property and this vision was the efficient conversion of sunlight and water into products that consumer value highly, are produced with a low carbon foot print and high biodiversity with happy animals and passionate people.

Passion was a word Fraser used often during the day, as it described how he approached farming and what he hoped to see in the team of people they surrounded themselves with.

He spoke of the importance of building a farm system based on the farm’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Going through this process, they came up with the three Rs; Risk, Recovery and Revenue and have a developed a system around these.

Risk was the period from mid-December and mid-February when the summer dry farm was at its least productive and it was difficult to grow liveweight. At this time of the year, they aim to be carrying minimal stock and go on holiday.

Between mid-February and August is the Recovery period, when it is all about preparing for the year ahead.

“We focus on growing as much dry matter as we can and decide which animals will make the best use of it,” says Fraser.

Between August and December, it is Revenue time and what Fraser describes as the fun one.

“This is all about growing animals as fast as we can before the risk period.”

In recent years the family has adjusted their system so that they are now running a 50:50 split between capital and “opportunity” stock as well as a 50:50 split between sheep and beef.

Derrick Moot was one of the guest presenters and talked about a changing climate and the role of legumes in future farming systems, particularly reducing the industry’s reliance on bagged nitrogen and ryegrass-based pastures.

Other speakers at the field day were Nathan Penny, Westpac Senior Agri Economist who gave an economic outlook for the sector and well-known agribusiness professional Barry Brook who talked about governance.

Find out more

Want to hear their presentations? Videos of Fraser Avery, Derrick Moot, Nathan Penny and Barry Brook’s presentations can all be viewed online via B+LNZ's Knowledge Hub:

Download the Marlborough Farmer of the Year field day handout (PDF, 9.8MB)