About Extension 350
Frequently asked questions
How does it work?
Extension 350 supports 350 Northland farmers through the programme over a three year period. It’s designed to help farmers share knowledge and gain access to specialist advice.
Clusters and target teams
A geographic group, a ‘cluster’, is set up in a specific area for dairy or sheep and beef farmers.
In total there will be 10 clusters with farmers from across the region; from Helensville to the top of the north – made up of three sheep and beef and seven dairy clusters. Each cluster is managed by a farm consultant. They each work with five mentor farmers, five target farmers, and 25 associate farmers. Each cluster is also supported by representatives from DairyNZ, or Beef + Lamb NZ.
The power of clusters
Each cluster starts with the consultant and project manager recruiting five mentor farmers and matching them each with a target farm. The target farm then looks to their community and finds five associate farmers to share their three year journey in the project. This combination creates a target team, five of which sit within each cluster. The power of small groups of farmers learning from others is underpinned in these groups of 35 people.
A target farm has the business undergoing the most significant change and is the focus of a target team.
Target farms are ready and willing to step up and work with expert support and guidance, grow their farming business to become more environmentally sustainable, more profitable and gain an appreciation of the importance of their wellbeing to their business. Target farms invest an average of $2,000 per year over the three years and in return get one on one support from their consultant and mentor farmer for the project. Together they establish their priorities and set targets for personal and business success.
Target farms also get a personalised Whole Farm Assessment, learn business development skills from attending courses such as ‘Mark and Measure’, receive a Farm/Land Environment Plan, and also gain exposure to a wide range of farm business tools and systems. On average, we anticipate that target farms in the dairy industry will increase their ongoing annual farm profit by $100,000, and sheep and beef by $35,000, be environmentally compliant, and enjoy a strong sense of personal wellbeing.
"We’ve had some really interesting and hard conversations with the support team at times, but at the end of the day you don’t turn that kind of support down. We are seeing improvements, and this year will be better still." - Graham Beatty.
If you are interested in becoming a target farmer, register your interest.
A mentor farmer brings great skills and experience in areas such as running a profitable farm, being proactive in environmental sustainability or other farming expertise.
Mentor farmers are at a place in their farming journey where they are able to share their knowledge and experience with others. The project offers mentors opportunities to upskill and learn through specified training sessions as well as to give back and see their target farmer grow and develop their business.
As well as giving back, experience shows that mentor farmers are significantly improving their own businesses through challenges to their own thinking and actions, then feeling obliged to go home and practice what they preach.
If you are interested in becoming an Extension 350 mentor farmer, register your interest.
Associate farmers are essential to Extension 350. The opportunity starts with understanding what their target farm wants to achieve (their vision and goals).
By observing the changes made to the business to achieve these, the challenges of implementing change, and the benefits these changes create, associate farmers support each other to make changes on their own farms. It’s an opportunity to get up close and learn what the target farmers are doing, apply the learnings to your own farm, and build strong networks to give and get advice.
The ‘secret sauce’ to Extension 350 is the small group interaction our target teams have. Unlike many workshops or training where you are talked at, Extension 350 gives you a chance to discuss and share ideas and information with your fellow target and associate farmers.
Associate farmers can be at any stage of the business journey, so it’s suitable for farm owners, farm managers, sharemilkers, contract milkers or farm employees.
If you are interested in becoming an associate farmer, register your interest.
Extension 350 is part of the Tai Tokerau Northland Economic Action Plan and is supported by Northland Inc, Ministry for Primary Industries, Northland Regional Council, DairyNZ, and Beef + Lamb NZ.
Research shows that Northland’s pastoral sector produces around 25% of Northland’s Gross Domestic Product and contributes hugely to our region not just economically, but also strategically and socially. However, studies and ongoing industry benchmarking show that as a whole Northland’s pastoral sector tends to underperform. The focus of Extension 350 is to help shift both individual farmers and the region’s farming community towards better performance. Because profitability equals choices involvement in the project aims to give farmers the flexibility to make decisions that support longer term goals for on-farm improvements, debt repayment, managing succession or improving their livelihood.
- How to become involved