Beef + Lamb New Zealand (B+LNZ) is to establish a "Future Farm" to trial new technologies and farm systems.

The Future Farm - part of B+LNZ's strategy to support farming excellence and lift farm productivity and profitability - will be a hill country sheep and beef property with around 6000 stock units, will operate as a fully commercial livestock farming enterprise and feature state of the art monitoring, measuring and communications technologies.

And it could be set up in Northland if farmers in the region - where B+LNZ chairman James Parsons farms in the Tangowahine Valley - steer the organisation toward a suitable property.

B+LNZ general manager innovation Richard Wakelin told The Country: "We are looking for ideas and suggestions from farmers around the country. No area has been ruled out as a possible site."


The likely model would be a lease property or a partnership with an existing farmer who was at an age or stage where they'd like to be involved in such an industry endeavour.
"We're open-minded," Mr Wakelin said.

"We're not looking to be in the market to purchase, but we welcome ideas people have on how we could structure an arrangement. The key is the right farm with the right people around it."

The Future Farm aimed to exceed existing high-performance standards in a range of areas including economics, people, animal, environmental and forages.

"However, we also want to test new farming systems and technologies that might be unproven or too higher risk for most farmers. The aim is for farmers to be able to observe, learn, and assess the feasibility of how these might be applied in their own situation," Mr Wakelin said.

While the Future Farm will be the first project of its kind for the New Zealand sheep and beef sector, Lincoln University and the dairy sector have developed the Lincoln Dairy Unit, which has been a valuable resource for dairy farmers to see first-hand the commercial application of new technologies and systems.

B+LNZ is working with agribusiness company AbacusBio to establish the project and get it up and running within the next 6-12 months.

"We'll also be looking to involve government, research organisations, and commercial partners to bring both expertise and resources and I'm happy to talk to people about the opportunities."¦