A test run of DairyNZ's new EnviroWalk app has delivered immediate benefits for Hopkins Farming Group in Manawatu.
By the end of this month, all 12 farm managers in the Hopkins Farming Group will be taking an EnviroWalk.
That's come after a successful trial on one of its farms by chief executive Shaun Back and farm manager Shawn Southee.
"We've found the app useful for identifying areas our company can work on," says Shaun, who oversees the group's 10 dairy farms and two support farms in Manawatu.
"Some of those areas are around capital infrastructure, while others are around staff training and ensuring procedures are written and understood. A lot of the actions the app suggested for our farm were fine-tuning our processes."
DairyNZ released the EnviroWalk smartphone app earlier this year to help farmers assess their farms and identify opportunities for better environmental results. What was a paper resource is now an app that enables farmers to create an action plan while they walk the farm.
"I've used the old paper version but I prefer the app version because it flows better by breaking down actions into sections and because there's not a lot of writing," says Shaun. "Plus, the app directly refers you to information."
The app asks a series of yes/no questions and suggests solutions or actions. These form the basis of a customised action plan, which can be downloaded, printed and updated at any time.
"We completed the whole assessment within two hours, with no outside help needed. If you know your farm well, you can work through the assessment easily," says Shaun.
Farm manager Shawn says the app is "awesome" and that anyone with a smartphone can easily follow their way through the process. He says the app highlighted that there's room for improvement on his farm.
"It's helped us know where we are. You think you're at the top of the hill but the app's shown us one or two things to improve on."
Shaun says the app is a great tool for training staff, particularly the younger generation.
"The best part is the app puts responsibility on managers to think about the environment and the effects of what they're doing on-farm. The app questions farm procedures and staff training and brings to light why this is so important.
"We need to be proactive in the environmental space. If all farmers complete an EnviroWalk, as a sector we'll have the ability to measure the changes we're making on-farm."
For more on the app visit dairynz.co.nz/envirowalk ¦ Inside Dairy