Tight rein on farm data

Logan Dawson used data driven decision making to double dairy farm revenue.

Dawson, who with his wife Sian was runner up in the 2024 Dairy Industry Association Awards Share Farmer of the Year Award, is making $10,858 in gross farm revenue per hectare compared to the average $5856.

Logan and Sian Dawson on the Ngahinapouri farm.

Judges said the Dawsons were continuously looking for more efficient and accurate ways to do things.

“I have managed to move from 13 kg of dry matter per kg of milk solids down to 11 kg,” he said. “That’s a 15 per cent reduction in feed for the same production.”

They’ve done this keeping a tight rein on every possible piece of farm data, feeding it daily into Google Sheets and sharing access across the entire Ngāhinapōuri farm team.

Data-driven decision making enhances accuracy, insights, and organisational effectiveness.

“Because it’s cloud based it means that our staff can access it at the same time as us,” he said.

Logan and Sian Dawson

The Dawsons are equity partners and 50/50 share milkers for leading dairy farmers Jim and Sue van der Poel on their 333ha, 1350-cow farm.

They employ six full time staff who, thanks to a Starlink satellite connection, have access no matter where they are on the farm.

“All of our planning and calculation can be done remotely. If I am doing sports, I can make sure that everything is being successfully monitored. There’s a lot of scope for successful on farm management.”

Logan Dawson

Dawson created his system from scratch after searching for a software solution and finding nothing that fitted his specific needs.

His bespoke spreadsheet system includes a grazing plan detailing how much supplement to include in different sized GPS tagged feed bins, a fertiliser plan showing how much nitrogen and effluent has been applied, a mating plan, and a staff roster.

“I update it and the staff check it daily,” he said

“One of the benefits of Google Sheets is that you can go back in version history and see what has been happening. It’s just these little things that simplify everything. I am in the process of exploring how to turn it into an app to make It simpler and marketable I have not met many people that looks at things the way I do. I am really enjoying challenging thinking,” said Logan.

Sian Dawson

“His spreadsheets make his job a heck of a lot more efficient,” said Sian.

“Having five kids aged 10 months to 12 years it means we get more with him home a little bit more and makes for a better work and life balance.”

She describes herself as her husband’s sounding board, also supporting farm income with off farm photography.

“I love to take family portraits. A lot of the time I do it on farm. It’s a great little side business.”

Of being placed as a runner up, Sian said: “I am stoked. To be recognised on a national stage is amazing. To be second in all of New Zealand is a massive achievement.”

The Dawsons won two merit awards: the Federated Farmers Leadership Award and the Honda Farm Safety, Health, and Biosecurity Award and more than $28,000 in prizes.

“Logan and Sian are on a large-scale, high input system 5 farm and are guiding a lot of people, adding another level of complexity,” said DairyNZ judge Steve Canton. “Through the use of technology and careful monitoring, they are really getting the most out of what they do.”

Sian and Logan Dawson

 

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