The old saying - actions speak louder than words - couldn’t be more apt when it comes to AB Lime.
With our own on-site dairy farm we truly know and understand our customers and are as emotionally and financially invested as them – offering greater insight into the daily trials and tribulations associated with farming.
From the start our aim has always been to ensure we do what we do well - now and into the future.
In many stages this has not been easy to achieve and has meant that we have worked hard to refine and develop this thinking over time to one where profit is secondary to happy, healthy staff.
The outcome is the realisation that balance affects all parts of our business - not only in regards to animal health and the stewardship of natural resources but also the economic viability of farming and the wider community as a whole.
Our farm management plan addresses a number of key issues, including people-focused rostering, good winter crop practices, water and waterway management, soil health through to animal health.
Find out more about the AB Lime's innovative dairy farm.
Farm size: 374 hectares
Stock Units: Wintering 980 cows and Milking 950
Milking system: AB Lime operates an 80 bale rotary milking system
Farm manager: Mitchel Smith
Milk solids: 450 average milk solids per cow
Putting the environment first
Being Southland based rainfall can have a significant impact on ephemeral flow and run off.
Flooding from our dairy farm generates the following environment concerns for us including:
In response AB Lime have developed a plan to create a series of bunds through the dairy farm hills. The first bund was constructed in June 2020 entirely from soil and a series of pipes and a sump to control the outflow.
A number of rainfalls have occurred since installation with only small accumulations of runoff observed behind the bund with a fine deposition on silt located at the bund which is a promising sign.
Runoff from our farm often contains high levels of sediment, nutrient and e-coli. The water accumulates into an ephemeral river with significant volume and velocity which travels down the AB Lime hill blocks. Not long after this occurs the lower reaches of the property including the AB Lime office carpark, both cow underpasses and the main highway flash flood significantly.
From water testing we know that surface runoff contribution from the dairy farm is our main water quality concern and mitigations to combat this began with Clint Rissman and the Land Water Science team carrying out a hydrological survey and analysis of water flow paths on the farm and identifying high risk areas for sediment loss.
Land water science identified rough areas on the hill blocks that had the highest potential for sediment loss and would be better off being retired from dairy cattle grazing – this included 25ha of hill country which is now being progressively retired from grazing and will be planted in native vegetation to compliment 'Motu Ngahere'. These planted areas will help to slow down runoff in the future to decrease sediment and nutrient runoff and also see less of a flash flooding effect that has been seen in the lower reaches.
Planting 25ha in natives is a big job and so this will be done progressively over time and also native trees can take many years to establish so in the interim another mitigation measure was recommended which was the implementation of soil bunds to slow down and detain runoff for longer periods to allow the settlement of sediment and reduce contamination to surface water.
Each bund will be designed to perform three functions to:
Retired Block Bunds – because these areas do not have stock near them these areas can be wetter for longer periods of time, resembling a constructed wetland and planted out in native vegetation. This can be done by using a less porous material in the construction of the bund or having smaller outlet pipes or no outlet pipes for water at all. Wetland vegetation in these bunds will assist in taking up nutrients, further slowing down the water flow and also helping to retain more sediment on the farm and not losing this off farm on to water ways.
Productive grazed area bunds – parts of these bunds will most likely be fenced off from cattle to maintain the bunds structural integrity but it is important that water does not have a residence time longer than about 3 days. In the end each bund is constructed slightly differently to best suit the area it is being built in.
Maximising Animal Health
Animal health is vital in relation to a farm’s sustainability practices. Poor animal health impacts on the profitability of a farm through loss in productivity as well as impacting on cost structure and placing additional pressure on staff resources. On farm one of our key practices is the use of knaprock on all our farm tracks.
Our blending plant can also blend in an array of trace elements to help you meet animal health requirements with products including:
Tell us what you need and we can custom blend, accordingly.Find out more about animal health
Mitch has progressed from 2IC to farm manager is his short time with AB Lime.
He has a passion for building a strong team dynamic and ensuring the optimum in animal health and welfare.