Words by: Nicole Hammond

It’s been a challenging season for many farms, but our farmers can be proud they are still producing food for New Zealand through drought and flooding, and significant disruption from Covid-19.
At this time, many farmers will be thinking about how they improve farm performance over the next year and make their business more resilient.
When it’s busy, it’s not easy to find time to look at where you can make changes. Fortunately, DairyNZ has a quick, free online tool that can help identify what you can focus on to improve your farm operation. It’s called Farm Gauge.
Already 1400 Kiwi dairy farmers and rural professionals have accessed Farm Gauge. DairyNZ is encouraging more farms to see how it can benefit their business.
Farm Gauge looks at eight areas of farm operation: strategy, feed, finance, health safety and wellbeing, herd management, people, environment and infrastructure. There are a few questions to answer in each area and it can often be completed within an hour. You don’t have to complete all sections – but can focus on a couple of areas that matter to you.
Once you’ve completed the short self-assessment, Farm Gauge will produce a report highlighting your performance. This comes with links to resources to improve your knowledge, and suggestions for further training.
Farmers at a Southland Biz Grow event I organised last season found Farm Gauge a useful tool to help identify where they could focus to improve how they farm. We shared the results in the group. It allowed those who were experts in different topics to share their knowledge with others who wanted to develop their understanding.
Farm Gauge can be used by farm owners, farm managers, sharemilkers, contract milkers and farm staff. You can share results across a farm team to see what strengths everyone brings to the operation and then share knowledge among staff or plan additional training.
If Farm Gauge is completed each year you can also track how your skills develop over time. Improve your farm and win!
DairyNZ is encouraging you to try out Farm Gauge. If you use it by June 30 you’ll go into a draw to win a $500 farm store voucher (your choice of a Farmlands or Farm Source voucher). Two vouchers will be awarded per region.
To be eligible, just complete three or more of the eight Farm Gauge sections. Visit dairynz.co.nz/farm-gauge for information.

• Nicole Hammond is DairyNZ consulting officer, Southland.