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Cloverdale Holdings Ltd - Nicky Watt

Mid Canterbury, Low Footprint Dairy Farming


Cloverdale is a Spectrum Group farm milking off 758 ha eff plus 350
ha support land for supplements and winter grazing. The farm peak
milks 2840 cows doing 440 MS/cow (1649 MS/ha).
Cloverdale has light stony Lismore soils with a water holding capacity
of between 21 to 35 % (majority at the lower end). The farm has a
Nitrogen leaching value of 18-19 kgN/ha.
This low footprint is achieved by:
- Minimal NPK inputs (less than 100 kgN/ha)
- Monitoring water inputs (AquaFlex water meters)
- Most area under centre pivot (20% under rotorainer)
- Excellent pasture utilisation (17 kgDM/ha pasture harvest)
- Low rainfall (no control over that)
- Low nitrates in pastures (pasture test monthly ave 3.5%)
- Moderate stocking rate (3.75 cows/ha)
- Spread effluent over large areas
- 85% or more diet pasture
- Flat land, no wet lands/water ways of concern
The farm has a very good pasture harvest and moderate animal
performance despite low nitrogen use. The Red Sky data shows
Cloverdale still to be trending with the top 10% in Canterbury (see
Red Sky data attached).
We are able to get N use down through:
- Use of 3 Leaf Phase technology (only apply N when need
extra dry matter)
- Improving soil health by addressing the soil mineral balance by
using correct fertilisers to enhance soil microbes which inturn
feeds the plants.
- Applying nitrogen, plus a carbohydrate source, as a liquid (can
get a much better response par unit of N applied - 30:1,
compared to 10:1 as a solid). See graph 1 below from trials
carried out on Cloverdale.


There is an opportunity to add a carbohydrate source to the solid
urea to reduce the amount of NPK applied. The potential is to reduce
N application by 25-30%. See Graph 2 trial data below.

3080.5
1043.2
0.0
500.0
1000.0
1500.0
2000.0
2500.0
3000.0
3500.0
Treatments
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Graph 1: Total pasture production per unit of applied N
(kgDM/ha/unitN) using foliar nitrogen compared to solid nitrogen
January 2010 - November 2011.

Foliar N Solid N
0.00
500.00
1000.00
1500.00
2000.00
2500.00
3000.00
3500.00
4000.00
4500.00
5000.00
k
g

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Graph 2: Pasture production (kgDM/ha) grown using solid urea
or solid urea and humate granules for 6 harvest dates.
Urea + humates
Urea
Trends for Animal Health and Fertility
Year 07/08 08/09 09/10 10/11 11/12 12/13
6 Week In Calf (5) 59 58 61 64 70 74
Empty Rate (%) 11 13 11 11 10 10?
Weeks Mating 14 14 13 13 12 11
Inductions (%) 10 10 8 7 1 1
Breed Costs ($/kgMS) 0.11 0.07 0.10 0.12 0.10 0.11?
Somatics (ave 000s) 290 270 268 248 165 150?
Animal Health($/kgMS) 0.31 0.19 0.16 0.20 0.18 0.18?
N Use (kgN/ha) 287 165 145 140 94 100?
? Estimate only
Animal fertility is improving despite cost per kilogram of milk solids
remaining similar over the years. Animal health has improved greatly
especially over the last 2 years with costs remaining relatively the
same.
There is still a lot of room for improvement in the animal health and
breeding costs as both are higher when compared to the Canterbury
top 10% (see Red Sky data attached).
Sustainability for Cloverdale in the future
Need to look at all aspects of farming:
Effluent Dry out solid effluent and spread/recycle green water.
Spread dry effluent when has least impact on the environment
Water Increase soil water holding capacity by building soil
humus. Ensure whole farm watered by pivots. Maximise water use
by variable water system on pivots. Minimise water loss with
continue monitoring on a daily basis. Recycle water where can in
the shed, on farm.
Electricity Generate and store own electricity (plenty of wind in
Canterbury, reasonable summer sunshine).
Soil Monitor nutrient leaching. Continue to build nutrient cycling
where in time will not require additional nutrients to be added
other than effluent and supplements being fed.
Staff Provide a succession plan for staff as in time will not be
able to rely on migrant workers. Need to provide a reason for
Kiwis to work on dairy farms.