New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) has launched a campaign to help British farmers navigate changes to the way the agriculture industry is funded.

NZTE, which is a New Zealand government agency responsible for promoting economic development and trade, is looking to help the farmers transition to environmentally-based support payments.

The agency has released five downable guides covering topics including dairying, animal health and genetics, farm business management, livestock management and pasture and machinery.

The reports provide advice and recommendations on how to build efficiency and resilience into a farm business, information on the latest technologies and case studies to demonstrate how these innovations are making a real difference on farm.

Trade commissioner for NZTE, Joe Nelson, said the guides had been created to help UK farmers get an in-depth understanding of the agri-tech routinely in use in New Zealand and how these could drive efficiency, profitability and resilience in their own businesses.

Nelson said: “With the transition from BPS to environmentally-led support payments, it is likely British farmers are going to need to take significant strides in becoming more efficient and more profitable in their farm businesses to ensure they are viable in the long-term.

“In many cases, this will require a much greater adoption of technology, both on farm and in the management of the business.

“Thankfully, however, a major precedent already exists that demonstrates life after subsidies is not only possible to achieve but can actually help farm businesses to become more successful, profitable and sustainable.”

Nelson said this is the story of New Zealand agriculture, which receives no government funding at all, yet is “buoyant, successful, and efficient”, as well as one of the largest exporters of agricultural products in the world.

“In producing these guides, we are providing an in-depth look at the types of technologies that have been used to achieve this and how relevant they are to what is happening in the UK right now,” he said.

“Hopefully, they will give UK farmers a sense of what is possible and how technology can really transform a farm business.”

New technologies

Chief executive of Agritech New Zealand, Brendan O’Connell, said farmer mindset is an extremely important factor in adopting new technologies on farm.

O’Connell said this could be one area where UK farmers could learn from their counterparts down under.

“Farmers in New Zealand have a very pragmatic attitude. They have a high tolerance to try something new if it will make their business more productive and profitable,” he said.

“The first 12 – 15% to adopt it are the trail blazers, but after that we have what we call the persuadables. These represent 30 – 40% of the market. They’re very open to tech if it is fit for purpose and once they see something works, they’ll invest.”

O’Connell said that the guides are free to download would provide value for farmers across all aspects of the industry.

“I recommend British farmers have a good read of all the guides. For some, it will open their eyes to the world of possibilities, whereas other farmers, those who are already adopting technology, likely to be more familiar with some of the concepts they discuss.

“Either way, we believe everyone will take something from them that will go some way to helping them emerge from the ongoing transitional period in a stronger position.”