Long-time farmer, Tom Small keeps busy running 5,500 merino ewes and 400 breeding cows in Awatere Valley. With 3000 hectares of flat to high country ranging from 200m-1500m above sea level - Blairich Station isn’t for the faint-hearted.
“We bought the farm back in 1998, and I’ve been home working here since 2009. I’ve taken on the management of the farm from my father, and my wife, Claire, and I do the day-to-day stuff.”
After finishing school, Tom spent 18 months on the farm before jetting off to England for an office job, followed by some extensive cross-continent travel.
“I tried out lots of other things. I worked on a ranch in Canada, oil rigs, tried out hunting guiding - but eventually came to the decision that farming was it. I never really thought I wanted to be a farmer, I spent five years overseas doing all sorts of stuff but never found anything I wanted to do more. So I ended up back on the farm because it was the only natural fit.”
Downloading Mobble’s free trial about a year ago, Tom gave it a go, worked out it’s exactly what he needed and jumped on board. The main reason he was looking for an app like Mobble came down to three main things:
Meeting farm assurance program criteria was a big reason Tom got behind farm management software. Documenting everything from animal health records, chemical inventories and drenching was a must - and Mobble does the trick.
“Mobble makes it much easier. When you're getting audited - you don’t have to go through and find the paperwork, you can just show them the app and say it’s all there if you want to have a look.
“You've got all your animal health records, all your drenching, all your inventories and stuff on one thing. I can go through a list of all the mob actions, see when everything was drenched, see what animal health products are on farm and all the batch numbers. It’s all in Mobble.”
One of Tom’s favourite Mobble perks is staff being on the same page and knowing where everything is - giving him the flexibility and reassurance when he’s not around.
“Mobble means I can still run the farm without having to make a thousand phone calls. If I’m going away for a week or something I’ll just put in a list of stuff that needs to be done and I can see those tasks get ticked off.
“It’s quite handy if you’re driving around, you see there’s a broken fence or a water trough that’s leaking. You can just chuck the task in and when staff are sitting there with nothing to do and they can’t get a hold of you because you’re out of coverage, they can jump on there and do that. Assigning tasks is a big time-saver.”
Tom is utilising paddock and property performance features in Mobble to figure out which paddocks are making the most bang for buck. These features are all about helping farmers use their land effectively and reduce under/over grazing of paddocks.
“Another benefit for us was to get a breakdown of different areas of the farm and their productivity.
“So knowing which paddocks produce the most or get the most grazing throughout the year and areas of the farm that don't produce a lot. This all helps us figure out if a particular paddock might need a bit of work or fertilizer, so that we can focus our input on the areas of the farm that are actually performing.”
“I think it makes things simple, and the more staff you’ve got the more relevant it gets. You can assign jobs and everyone knows what’s going on, and everybody has a better understanding of the running of the farm and where the mobs are etc…”
Transparency is a big thing for Tom’s operation - laying it all out there for the end-consumer. Tom provides wool for a Norwegian sheep to shop company - where consumers can see what farm the wool came from - providing a great deal of transparency so consumers can look up their farm and understand the people and practices behind it.
“The end consumer is getting more and more worried, rightly or wrongly, about what we, as farmers, do. I think that anything that we can do to show our story and show that we're doing things the right way and provide accountability to the end consumer has got to be a good thing. And Mobble can really help with that.”
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