Simplify rotation planning on-line Monday, Apr 7, 2003
A locally developed Internet-based grazing rotation planner now on line, offers farmers the broadest range of capabilities and services available to simplify their rotation planning.
The grazing rotation system, called grazingrotation, is available at www.grazingrotation.co.nz and has been developed by ex-dairy farmer Roy McCallum of Palmerston North, whose company Farm Market Media Ltd also operates the Internet farming portal site, www.farm.net.nz one of New Zealand's pioneering farming websites.
www.grazingrotation.co.nz is available for farmers to try for themselves free of charge for seven days, simply by logging on. After the trial period, it costs just $27 a month for unlimited access.
While grazingrotation is orientated towards dairying it will handle any livestock farming system that includes rotationally grazed stock of a single class.
It originated from the blackboard system of rotation planning McCallum used as a multi-herd dairy farmer before the days of computers. That was developed into a spread sheet-based planning program when home-computers first became available in the 1980s, but was restricted in its capabilities because of the limitations of computers at that time.
But now, powerful computers and the availability of the Internet have made it possible for every farmer to have access to a powerful, high speed, simple-to-use planner that brings enormous benefits.
Farmers have their own confidential data-base on the site which builds up comprehensive details about their farms using a variety of information on paddocks, stocking policies, feeding policies and grass growth rates.
"Once those things are established on site, they just carry on," McCallum says. "After that all you have to do - unless you change your stock numbers, the class of stock or the amount you want to feed them - is enter the grass readings every 10 days, and then run the simulation which will give you an updated management plan for rotation for the next six weeks on a 12 hour or 24 hour rotation basis "As well, the program will produce an overall summary of the total feed situation on the farm, a supplementary rotation summary for feeding supplements, and a conserved feed report which covers grass, hay and silage and supplements such as turnips and meal.
"It will also produce a harvesting plan, alert you when you need to buy-in supplements, and can calculate the impact of applying nitrogen."
The program will also alert users to a wide range of other factors such as warnings of feed shortages weeks in advance, graphs of daily loss or gain of feed, and going-in and exit grass cover of paddocks. It can also help to raise the average growth rate of the property
McCallum says grazingrotation has the power to also do 90 day simulations, but the limitation of landline-based Internet connections in rural areas means the capabilities of the program have to be halved.
While grazingrotation has application to anybody who wants to manage their grazing rotation for maximum advantage, McCallum says it is likely to appeal mainly to multi-herd dairy farmers.
"There's a lot of pressure on dairy farmers over rotation management and feed budgeting, and the key to grazingrotation is its simulation ability which makes it a dynamic program," he says.
"The gives it the ability to take into account a lot more variables than can be handled by a static program or a spreadsheet type approach, and it is those sorts of things that make it a lot more accurate and useful."