Managing change through innovation

Trudy and Matthew Holmes.

5 September 2018

At DairyNZ, supporting farmers to build their future means not standing still. We’re constantly maintaining a competitive edge by creating and accessing innovation, sharing information and working with researchers, support organisations, farmers and the wider dairy sector, says DairyNZ’s Bruce Thorrold.

In a few years, we’ll look back and realise that right now, we were living through a transformational period for our sector.

And it’s not just dairy that’s undergoing a transformation. The pressure for change is allaround us, impacting on almost everything we do. Digitisation of the world is happening at apace we’ve never seen before, the focus on the impact humans are having on the world is intense and both seem to be rapidly-influencing the global political scene.

Successfully navigating our way through the  transformation must be our focus. Dairy has been here before, such as the stormy seas of the 1980s. Our ability to change at pace is our advantage. In the past we have done that through strong farmer leadership with a clear vision, through being strongly-connected and having a hardwired desire to innovate. We must again use these foundations of our sector and what we have learned from the past to tackle the current challenges. I am positive dairy will innovate its way once again to success.

Creating and supporting innovation 

Innovation comes in many shapes and  sizes.  It’s  not  just the single technology that changes  the  way  we  farm  (e.g. the development of artificial insemination or rotary dairies). Innovation is also about the small wins, such as the 50-teat calfeteria allowing big gains in productivity of people and the clever rosters and approaches allowing more flexibility in staffing our farms.

“Innovation should make things easier, cheaper, faster, more efficient, more productive, more accurate or more enjoyable.”

Adopting and adapting innovation 

The other ace in our pocket is the speed with which farmers adopt new approaches (e.g. in the use of fodder beet and now possibly plantain). Farmers often lead innovation and sometimes researchers must work hard to keep up.

Innovating alongside farmers will assist the pace of change, allowing greater understanding for those already adopting and giving confidence to other farmers who are watching over the fence.

Farmers can also use DairyNZ groups, field days and workshop events (e.g. FarmTune, CalvingSmart), DairyConnect, other farmer-to-farmer forums and work with  rural  professionals  to find out who’s doing what and how that can be shared and adapted. Innovation should make things easier, cheaper, faster, more efficient, more productive, more accurate or more enjoyable.

Most importantly, the collective innovation across our sector should deliver a farming system that meets the needs of our customers and consumers and have the potential to adapt to future needs.

Explore innovation online at

DairyNZ strategy and investment leader Bruce Thorrold

Media inquiries:

Lee Cowan
Senior Engagement & Communications Manager
Phone 021 930 836

Vanessa Feaver
Senior Communications & Media Specialist Phone
027 836 6295

Photo usage: If you require high-resolution versions of photos featured in this article, please contact