Posted 28 August 2023
Aside from all the other pressures on Kiwi dairy farmers today, an increasing challenge is the impact of weather on their operations. In recent years one of the most significant weather-related factors is heavy rain, and its effects on farm race surfaces are often underestimated.
Farm races aren't just a walking track for cows coming to the shed, they're the logistical lifelines of a dairy farm, making their integrity and functionality crucial to your farm's efficiency and profitability. New Zealand has always had rain, and while essential for nurturing pastures and providing water for livestock, it can also take a toll on farm track surfaces. As rainfall has got heavier and for longer periods in recent times, it has caused a number of issues on many farms, including:
1. Erosion and Soil Loss: The sheer volume of rainwater can lead to severe erosion across paddocks, farm tracks and races. As the rainwater rushes downhill, it can wash away the topsoil and gravel, creating ruts and gullies. This not only undermines the integrity of tracks but also contributes to sediment runoff which can lead to other environmental issues.
2. Muddy Conditions: Heavy rain can turn farm races into muddy quagmires, making them difficult and even impassable for livestock and vehicles. This can complicate and delay routine operations and can lead to safety hazards.
3. Reduced Traction: Slippery, muddy tracks reduce traction for livestock and vehicles alike. This can result in accidents, injuries, and damage to property.
4. Increased Maintenance: The need for constant repairs and maintenance increases when farm races are subjected to heavy rain. For many farmers with traditional surfaces like rotten rock and brown rubble, heavy rain means more time and money spent on grading, surface replenishment, and drainage improvements.
Not only does heavy rain cause degradation to farm tracks and races, the problems caused flow into other aspects of running an efficient dairy farm. Some of these flow-on effects include:
1. Operational Delays: Muddy and damaged tracks can cause significant delays in routine tasks from milking cows to feeding livestock and transporting supplies.
2. Financial Costs: The continuous maintenance and repair of farm tracks can incur substantial financial costs, which can impact the profitability of dairy operations.
3. Environmental Concerns: Erosion and sediment runoff from farm tracks can have negative environmental consequences, including soil degradation and water pollution, and increasing more admin and attention from local councils.
4. Animal Welfare: Muddy tracks can lead to injuries and discomfort for dairy cows, affecting their overall health and milk production.
Much of this can be avoided with StockRock zeolite-based farm surfaces. We've visited farmers in heavy-rain areas such as Taranaki and Hauraki and seen first-hand how their StockRock races perform in unprecedented rain-events. Stock Rock is unique in the way it cements together, absorbs and displaces water, and also how it dries out faster than other products.
Get in touch to have a chat about your needs. The investment in a quality reliable farm surface now will save you time and money in the future, and be one less thing to worry about in the next '100 year storm'.