Who would of thought an apple farmer could teach me a thing or two about sheep farming – I didn’t!! Until today…
Today we went to a farm where they manage their production through measuring the right things. The amount it related to sheep production truly amazed me and this really excites me how much we can learn from other industries.
If I let the tree represent a sheep, it may help put it into context (for me at least!). They knew exactly what genetics they had in the trees (Merino, first cross, composite). They knew what they were bred for (wool, meat), what their market was (domestic, export, main stream, premium), how to manage pre-production (lambs through to first lambers), and what the key profit drivers were (lambing %, weaning weight, wool cut??).
He has just introduced a root stock which he considers a real industry revolution. The genetics of this root stock allow the plant to:
– Mature early – quicker return
– have less leaf to fruit ratio – important as they are not paid on wood and leaf
– higher yield per Ha
They said when they have the right tree, they can manage it accordingly to allow it to reach its genetic potential.
Yield per Ha is the key profit driver – everything they measure relates directly to how they can influence this. Collecting data that does not affect this is a waste of time and resources.
They process 700million apples a year and every one is managed individually through modern technology. The apples are graded into 120 different lines to meet market specifications. Because they know the quantity down to the last box of apples, they can make changes back at the farm level. This absolutely blew me away. ‘Making sure we don’t lose attention to detail’ was something they kept on top of. Some pictures below show some of the apples in the production line.