Rick Burke and Jan Loney

Rick Burke and Jan Loney

Katikati farmers, Rick Burke and Jan Loney, should be accustomed to seeing their names in lights and while they wouldn’t say that, just a quick search of their name says otherwise. The pair are sector leaders in farming best practice including the latest in mitigating environmental impacts, including green-house gas emissions, on their 300ha farm south of Katikati.

Pukekauri Farms Ltd - focussed on progressive farming

Rick says 75% of Pukekauri Farms is rolling and 25% is steep country, running back up to the Kaimais and because of the varied terrain there have been some substantial changes in the way Pukekauri is farmed since they took the helm in the 1980s.

“We’ve put 162ha into pasture as beef, sheep and dairy grazing while the rest has been retired and planted with some going into exotic forestry (23ha) and the rest (110ha) in native trees, regenerating bush and fenced off wetlands.

Along with their forward-thinking approach to farming they keep an eye on developments in the tech field for applications designed to make their job easier and save time and money.

Jan says Farm Focus has been a real find and is their go-to tool for financial planning.

“We loved our old Cashmanager, but times change, and information is all on-line now – our mail, grocery orders, our news and movies are all available in real time. When the company signalled Cashmanager was being retired and they were launching their new cloud-based Farm Focus we immediately saw benefits for our business.”

She says for starters the frantic month end reconciliation has gone!

“I save our invoices as these come in and they are automatically matched with corresponding information on our bank statements and saved securely in the system forever!"

Jan says Focus is cloud based – “it’s an online tool so it’s just like opening an email so now I drop in and out more often. The beauty is you can enter information as you go along so I’m using it more effectively and building confidence along the way. Being able to refer back to our old Cashmanager information for comparisons is also handy because we still have full access to our historical records as well.”

Rick says he wouldn’t call himself a mover and shaker in the tech space - “I have to admit to a bit of angst when dealing with tech matters but the automated processes Focus delivers are a tremendous help for users like me.”

“We make a good team but to be fair Jan does the prep and I’ve only got a couple of entries to make at month’s end before giving the detail a final check and pushing the button!

He says having their suppliers, such as the accountant and bank manager on-line is also a bonus.

“No-one has to leave their office so now down time for all is zero. Even the Beef+Lamb economic service team said it was useful to be able to log on and look at our figures without leaving their office. It was something new, quite a revelation for them too.”

Pukekauri Farms has recently been one of a number of AgMatters case study farms involved in a project around Knowing Your Green House Gas (GHG) Numbers and what the effect of reducing emissions has had on Pukekauri’s profitability. Rick says it was great having historical financial data and stock reconciliations available to examine effects on profitability.

Jan and Rick say the icing on their Focus cake is the staff at Farm Focus who are fantastic – always helpful and open to suggestions. They say the company designed and built Focus from the ground up so, because they own the product, they can make adaptions to ensure Focus remains relevant over time.

Both agree technology is a fast-moving beast but because Focus is a living document that can be updated, they feel they’re in a long-term partnership which has not always been their experience with companies that often sell a product and disappear!