Kiwi ingenuity, mixed with a healthy dose of organisation, means Otago’s Angela Scott from Pendella Farm has simplified her calf-rearing operation so she’s farming more effectively with less labour.
“My main driver is to do a job as easily as possible. I have to work smart – it’s a matter of brain rather than brawn,” the 2020 winner of the Ballance Farm Environment Awards’ Massey University Innovation Award says. Farming a 470ha Maniototo sheep and beef property that has been in her family for almost 100 years, Angela’s ability to embrace new ideas was praised by the judges. Her innovative approach applies to the big picture – such as the instigation of a local water-testing programme – along with how she works day-to-day.
For example, she feeds her 800 calves using a system of pumps, pipes and feeding stations – avoiding the need to lift heavy buckets and bags. She uses compartment feeders until weaning to ensure no calf misses out on the correct amount of milk, plus has designed a special meal feeder that enables her to take bulk meal out with her at the same time as the milk.
“Speed is not my driver – ease and efficiency is. I have really good systems that may not be the fastest but they are the easiest. I’m also quite focused – if I’m on a task, I’m on a task.”
A clever blend of old and new
Angela has farmed the property for 30 years, running super-fine merinos, rearing Friesian bull calves and finishing bulls. She mixes both modern and time-tested approaches to achieve consistent farm performance.
Newer on-farm technologies include using an app to control pivot irrigation from her phone, soil moisture probes on telemetry, and cloud-based programmes to record and manage fertiliser and agronomy. These modern techniques build on a traditional foundation that includes good stockmanship, and ensuring animals are well fed and not stressed.
“People don’t perform at their best when they’re under constant stress and I don’t think animals do either.”
Build a support network
Angela manages the farm with support from her family, in particular husband Grant Williams, plus a team of trusted contractors and industry experts.
“You can’t do everything yourself. You have to get trusted advisors around you – honest people with integrity who are on your wavelength.
“You can’t make a decision if you haven’t got all the information, and you can’t know it all yourself – we have to trust the advice of others. Trying new things and working with good people is also a way to keep it fresh.”
When Angela started farming, there were fewer women at the front-line but she’s seen that change over the years and encourages others to simply give it a go.
“There’s no reason why we can’t do it – many women already are.”
2020 Ballance Farm Environment Awards received:
Massey University Innovation Award
Enter the Ballance Farm Environment Awards