“The information we get through monitoring and measuring are animals closely make sure we keep on track, or if not, it’s what we’ve got to do to get back to hitting our goals,” he said.
Spring Valley Enterprises employs five ‘team members’ - Matt’s reluctant to call them staff, crediting the success of the farms as a solid team effort. He says he couldn’t have done it alone.
All five team members are young, tech-savvy and hungry for excellence. Farm manager Sam Vivian-Greer likens data crunching to the feeling of playing a video game - each day he’s determined to achieve a higher score than the day before.
“Yesterday, weighing steers, I knew that two thirds of the mob were doing over a kilo a day,” he said. “To me that’s awesome. I said to myself at the start, when weighing those steers, if I can get these doing over a kilo a day, I know what I’ve been doing for the past month works.”
Matt knows his young sons are watching on and thinks being surrounded by technology and seeing how it is used will make a career in farming attractive to them, just as his dad investing in one of the first desk top computers attracted him.
And it’s just as well his sons are inspired, they’ll be no shortage of work for them. In the past twelve months, Spring Valley Enterprises has purchased three new farms and recently settled a forth, a result in part of Matt setting up a governance board to guide the direction of their business.
Collectively they helped Matt and Lynley define their goals and then mapped a pathway for them to achieve them.
ANZ Commercial & Agri Wairarapa regional manager Sean Stafford says investment in technology is leading to better performing businesses.
“Technology is enabling Matt to make better decisions on farm which is leading to better productive outcomes and better financial performance,” he says. Matt agrees.
“The investment in technology has helped make us a business we can budget for – there are no surprises, every element of our business is monitored and measured,” he says.
“We’re repeatable, the bank doesn’t like surprises and we’ve been able to expand and duplicate over a bigger broader are. It’s not just me making the decisions, there’s a team behind us, they’re awesome and supportive and tech saavy but they understand what our vision is.”
Matt’s advice to farmers reluctant to embrace technology? “If we truly value our farm and our legacy and we want that to continue we have to move with the times. It is a little bit scary but it’s about putting your toe in the water and making a start.
“It’s like planting a tree, if you didn’t do it yesterday, today’s the next best option.”
Reina Webster-Iti is a bluenotes contributor