NIWA Senior Communications Advisor and Irrigation Insight programme team member
“It has been a good spring so far,” says Ben Abernethy.
“Cold nights have been a feature until now, so pasture growth only really got going recently. We have had manageable rainfall amounts and our feed utilization has been going well.”
He says that the new weather forecast portal provided by NIWA to the research farmers has been fantastic.
“We are starting to make some sense of how the local weather pattern works and it has already changed the way I’m irrigating.”
Ben’s farm features heavy soils and has a long layout. He is very aware that understanding the soil condition in different paddocks can lead to big efficiencies.
“I recently skipped four paddocks in a row from the irrigation schedule, knowing that those areas didn’t need the water right now and that I’d be getting rain soon. The information available in the NIWA portal gave me the confidence to make that decision - I like knowing that I can be flexible in my irrigation scheduling and that there are plenty of efficiencies to be gained.”
The discipline of having to add his information to a daily spreadsheet as part of the research is also paying dividends.
“I’m adding my numbers to the spreadsheet every night, and yes, it is an extra job, but it has paid off in the time I gain not having to consolidate the numbers that I used to record in three books around the farm. I can now make my irrigation and other decision quickly and confidently with all the information I need at my fingertips.”
Ben is looking forward to a summer that will be easier to manage than the rainfall and dry period excesses of last summer.
“Constant rain that falls at night at just the right levels to keep the river levels up would be perfect!”
Find out more about Ben and what he is hoping for from the programme here.