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Farmers Weekly NZ: Precision irrigation to maximise productivity

As arable farmers we either accept the
pricing or don’t grow the crop. If we don’t agree to the price that we’re
offered that company overseas will get a producer somewhere else if we were to
still have the same yields that we did Twenty years ago there’d be no arable
farmers left in Canterbury. The only way that we’re able to survive is with
productivity gains and getting smarter with the way that we do things. We are Gary and Rae Wilson mixed arable farmers from Hinds. My farming operations encompass two
blocks about 300 odd hectares. We grow carrots for seed production, radish, rye
grass for seed, maize for silage and anything else that’s profitable. I grew
up in Hinds when primarily we were all sheep farmers with a little bit of crop
now it’s predominantly dairy. The prices we’re receiving for our product are
probably on a par with what we received 25 years ago.
That’s why mid Canterbury has converted so much to dairying. The dollars and cents
mean that they have to change. So the only way we’ve been able to survive is
increase our production with better use of water, better timing and application
of the fertilizer, using soil sampling across the farm so that we can put the
nutrients where they’re needed. Always upgrading and just trying to be smart
about the way we farm. All of the technology and environmental
outcomes that we are trying to achieve with water, with fertilizer, with keeping
our waterways clean and green all comes at a huge cost. The only way we can
achieve that as if our farms are profitable. If our farms aren’t
profitable we don’t have any money to have the environmental outcomes that we
would like. The consumer does have a big part to play. When someone goes shopping
in the supermarket for bread, they usually go to the cheapest variety and
quite often that’s from the imported product. It would be nice if they could
think of New Zealand producers and buy something that’s New Zealand produced and
New Zealand grown.

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