Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Monday and Tuesday with AbacusBio

A slight deviation from my Nuffield studies took me to Dunedin (this is the first church of Dunedin) to talk to a company called AbacusBio about a type of Carbon assessment for sheep flocks called Hoofprint.  I met with Jude Sise who is a partner at AbacusBio and who is running the Hoofprint program in New Zealand.  Abacus Bio is the science partner to Alliance and who’s philosophy is all about using science to help business.  Hoofprint is web based, and is currently used on about 50 New Zealand lamb producers supplying Alliance; one of the main farmer owned cooperatives operating in New Zealand.
The program requires very limited farmer input with the bear minimum requirement taking up about an hour or two a year.  This is involves putting the closing stock numbers into the system and adding the fuel, fertiliser and electricity usage into the system.  The real beauty of this system is that the kill sheet data is automatically added to the program through a system in place at Alliance.
Depending on the ability of the operator the system can be much more accurate, with regular inputs of sheep deaths, sales outside of Alliance making the carbon impact much more accurate.
But where this system scores highly, in my opinion is about the results that are generated.  There is a lot of scientific algorithms running in the back ground to calculate many of the figures used to generate the reports.  At the end of the year animal growth rates, carcase weights, and growth rates are all available.  In addition it reports on scanning, docking and sales percentages which call also be compared to previous seasons.  We know from previous experience that lower carbon foot prints equate to more efficient and profitable sheep production.  Take growth rates for example, the shorter time lambs stay on the farm the lower its carbon emissions, the lower the cost and the more efficient that animal is.
This is a great tool to monitor the flocks performance and it can even be split up to manage and monitor different flock or mob numbers.

I spent Tuesday morning back at the office running Overbury’s data through the program, from memory, which showed some interesting comparisons with New Zealand emission and performance data.  It would be interesting to get hold of the program to run a full years worth of data for our sheep enterprise to look at it’s performance against the top producers in New Zealand.

After leaving Jude and the Abacus team, I headed to the Otago Peninsular to try and find the resident Penguins and Albatrosess.  I failed miserably on both counts which was shame, so I about faced and headed towards Invercargill via the Southern Scenic Route, which should have taken about 4 hours but in true 'Jake the travelling tourist' mode, took me almost 7 hours!  However the stops were certainly worth making.

The first place to stop was Nugget Point (above) protruding out into the South Pacific Ocean.  The rocks, beautiful white sand, turquoise sea; punctuated with seagull and seal calls was simply stunning.  Pressing on from Nugget point I made my way along the very scenic route to another incredible view this time from Florence Hill, overlooking Tautuku Bay, which I arrived at as the sun was starting to set.
A few miles along the coast I came across Curio Bay, where the remains of a petrified forest can be seen on the rocky beach.  The fossilized trees are clearly visible, and are incredibly rare.  This is because the silification, brought by the flood, covered the forest in a matter of weeks or months before the forest material could degrade, preserving them for millions of years.

I made my way onwards to Fortrose where I met up with Hayden Peters who farms with his father and also works full time for Alliance, who had very kindly offered to host me for the night.  After a quick tour of the farm, as it was getting late we headed back to his house.

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