A NEW WAY FORWARD

This is the story of how Amy Stokes changed her farms nutrient programme and produced more milk.

Amy Stokes

Farm Manager, Stokes Family Farms.

Waikuku Dairy Farm, 400 Cows, 190,000kgs Milk Solids.

Fernside Farm, 1000 cows, 450,000kgs Milk Solids.

Seeking change, Amy and the family farms made significant changes to grow more grass and produce more milk.

Just outside of Christchurch, Amy Stokes runs the family farm at Waikuku. Consisting of a 400 Cow operation at Waikuku, Amy also assists the team up at the larger 1000 Cow dairy farm at Fernside.

Amy has always run an efficient operation when it came to fertiliser inputs. However, Amy knew they could do better and so in 2019 at the South Island Field Days began the search for more environmentally friendly ways of managing their farm inputs.

Amy says “We made our way down to the Tow and Fert site and thought it was a clever and impressive machine.”

The idea planted a seed and shortly after the Field Days visit Amy began to investigate the Tow and Fert further. It was not long until Amy decided that she would take the leap and purchase a Tow and Fert Multi 1000 to use on their smaller farm to test what they could do.

Above: The Tow and Fert Multi 4000.


Episode 1: Amy Stokes, Farm Manager on the family farms just outside of Christchurch talks about their change to the Tow and Fert System of foliar application of fertiliser.


After starting their new programme with a Tow and Fert Multi 1000 Amy says they quickly realised that they needed a larger machine and purchased the Multi 4000.


“We had wanted to find something that meant we didn’t have to dust paddocks because it was a job that everyone hated. The Tow and Fert fixed that. We could spray 5-6 days ahead of the cows and we knew the results were better than we were getting with the dusting.”

“We were a little nervous about applying fert at first so through the springtime we just started out putting on Mag Oxide and Lime Flour following the cows.”

Amy explains thats the results came quickly “We noticed less metabolic issues and less down cows. The cows just seemed happier coming into peak milk and we carried that on right through to mid-December just because it was an easy task. We know we are getting better results and it is way easier to do as well.”

As her confidence grew Amy began to apply the farms Urea through the Tow and Fert. From there the team have found different products that can be added at the same time.

Once the team had gotten to grips with using the machine on the smaller farm in Waikuku Amy wanted to see if they could make the same improvements on the farm at Fernside.

“We quickly found the Tow and Fert Multi 1000 didn’t go the distance, it was just too small.” Amy laughs.

FROM A MULTI 1000 TO A MULTI 4000

With the Multi 1000 to small to cover both farms Amy decided to purchase the Multi 4000 as well.

“We could see pretty quickly that there would be a benefit to having a bigger machine, so we purchased the Multi 4000 to be able to cover a larger area quicker up at Fernside. We haven’t looked back since.”

Down at the Waikuku farm Amy and her team used to spread all their own Urea using a SAM spreader. The Tow and Fert has now replaced this and the enthusiasm to use the Tow and Fert machines has almost become a competition,

“I love using the Tow and Fert and I feel good about using it. We are putting on less Urea and seeing what it is doing to the farm. The grass is happier, the cows are happier and whether it is me, my Dad or my brothers applying the Urea we are all happier doing it.”

“It’s been pretty good seeing the results on the farm. It makes you feel pretty good.”

For Amy and the team, the results have been a pleasant but not unexpected, surprise,

“We are milking up to 30 extra cows going into May and are not having to feed out huge amounts. The grass is definitely growing better, and we have been able to keep more cows on throughout the season which has been awesome.”

With regulation pending Amy says that her farms are well under the cap of 190 units of N per hectare.

“It might seem counter intuitive at first, but we have seen the results on the farm, and we would argue that we are getting better and better by changing our systems and moving away from the status quo. Hopefully, this will become the new status quo.”

“I love knowing that what we are putting on to our farm is something that is good for the environment, good for the cows, is good for the soil and it just makes me feel like I am doing my part to make the dairy industry less of the devil it is sometimes portrayed to be.”

“It’s been pretty good seeing the results on the farm. It makes you feel pretty good.”

Episode 2: Amy talks about their fertiliser programme, going under the 190 limitations and what the future holds for the family farms.


“I love driving the tractor with the Tow and Fert on it. It just makes my life better I reckon.”
says Amy

Above: Amy applies her farms fertiliser brew to one of their paddocks at the Waikuku farm just outside of Christchurch.


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