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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.



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Dairy Production and Marketing Board

This Board employs 13 consulting officers, two in Northland, four in South Auckland, one in the Bay of Plenty, two in Taranaki, two in Wellington –Hawke's Bay, and two in the South Island. These officers give an advisory service to dairy farmers like that given by the Farm Advisory Division of the Department of Agriculture. They cover such matters as calf rearing, bull selection, pasture management, milking techniques, etc. Being few in number, they prefer the group method of giving farm advice, organising many field days, and pioneering in New Zealand the technique of the farm-discussion group. The latter were begun in 1952 and comprise groups of six to nine farmers who are prepared to meet periodically to discuss their farming problems and the application of research findings to farming practice. These discussion groups meet regularly in all areas covered by the consulting officers. Meetings take the form of round-table discussions with the subject decided beforehand, being usually one of topical interest. Sometimes outside speakers (usually specialists) address the group and lead the discussion on their work and its application to farming. Groups also hold field days on members' farms and sometimes visit research stations for on-the-spot talks with research workers.

Agricultural Colleges

Courses in agriculture are given by two university institutions, Lincoln College, a constituent college of the University of Canterbury, and the Massey University of Manawatu. Both these institutions organise and run farmers' conferences at which members of the staffs and outside lecturers give papers on topical subjects and make known results from research projects. Lincoln College holds its conference in May of each year and also holds field days on its farm. Massey University has two conferences, one for dairy farmers and one for sheep farmers. In addition it advises on land drainage. For some years Lincoln College has also run a farm advisory service for which farmers pay a fee. One hundred farmers now receive advisory assistance in varying degrees. The College also makes farm valuations and, on request, will make individual farm-management reports.

Private Organisations

Some private organisations (fertiliser companies and proprietary firms producing, for example, insecticides) do some advisory work among farmer clients. But their principal aim is naturally to encourage the sale of their products. These services are not so highly developed in New Zealand as in some more intensively farmed countries, like Great Britain.

Other Government Departments

Several State Departments (Lands and Survey, State Advances Corporation, Maori Affairs, Scientific and Industrial Research) are all concerned with various aspects of agriculture. The first two–Lands and Survey and State Advances Corporation—do not directly do farm advisory work, but the former, through its large-scale land development, and the second, through its large volume of rural mortgages, are closely interested in making farms more efficient. Field officers from both Departments give incidental advice in the course of their work. The advisory work of Maori Affairs Department is perhaps more significant, although it is also closely bound up with the giving of financial aid to Maori farmers. The distinctive traditions of the Maori people have meant that their problems must be tackled differently, and advice given by those closely acquainted with their psychology and their attitudes to land ownership. Results of investigations by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research into soil problems, plant breeding, plant diseases, and several other fields are applied by advisory officers employed by the State as well as by other organisations. Research workers often give lectures and take part in discussions on farming problems.

Farm Improvement Clubs

In 1949 the Department of Agriculture was approached by members of Federated Farmers in the Waikato district to ask if an advisory officer could be appointed to act as adviser to 40 to 50 farmers, to consult with them, and draw up plans for improving production from their farms. Adequate management and accounting records would be kept so that the economic value of the improvement programmes could be assessed. The Department was unable to agree to the appointment of a special adviser for this work, but a modified scheme was agreed to whereby an advisory officer acted as adviser to a small group of five farms and an advisory officer in economics kept the necessary accounting and management records. As a result of this, three small groups of five farms each were started in the Waikato in 1950.

Some farmers, however, still considered that there should be some scheme whereby 40 to 50 farmers could be served by an adviser at the farmers' own expense. The first move was made in 1952 with the incorporation of the Franklin Farm Improvement Club. This club now employs two officers, each one serving 50 farmers. The movement has grown until there are now 29 clubs employing 33 advisers for approximately 1,460 farmers.

The main aim of the club is to improve economically the production of its members' farms. Each club has a membership of 50 and is managed by an executive committee comprising a chairman and five or six members. Each member pays an annual fee of from £35 to 50, depending on the size of his farm. The clubs usually employ a public accountant (as well as an adviser) to act as secretary to the club. An adviser is expected to visit each member at least once in two months. Some clubs buy farm needs in bulk to get discounts, the benefit of which is passed on to members.

Private Farm Consultants

Six private farm consultants operate in New Zealand charging a fee for each visit to a farm.

by Russell Herman Scott, B.COM., Assistant Director, Farm Advisory Division, Department of Agriculture, Wellington.