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What can you do on your farm if fuel prices go to $5 - $10 per litre, which they are likely to do?

There is clear evidence that petrol and fuel is just going to keep rising. The days of cheap fuel to run a benefit and growth economy are over.

We have basically burnt through 50% of the world's fuel reserves. From here on in it just gets more expensive to find, harvest and process. It is interesting talking to international people, and they advise that they are all back doing exploration, because it is now economic.

With that information, that fuel prices will remain high, and if it gets short or prices really spike, what can we do on our farms to reduce fuel consumption?

Some of the things we could think about are as follows: We could saddle up the horse, which has been growing fat and old in the back paddock. Oil the saddle and bridle. Whistle up the dog, and off we go.

It might be just amazing what we see off the back of a horse. You would hardly have to steer it down the race, and it wouldn't consume fuel or need an expensive servicing every 6 months either.

You could put saddle bags on the horse, and carry essential goods and tools down the farm to save you tripping backwards and forwards.

Instead of rushing up and down the farm in your farm vehicles doing one task at a time, you could multi-task. Take your time, plan ahead and make one trip to do many jobs.

You could even take a thermos of coffee for morning tea, or even lunch. It's not silly you know, and I know that is what we did in the late 60's and early 70's in Canterbury. We would head down the farm with the thermos for morning tea and lunch and a pack of sandwiches, and we would stay down the farm all day.

We could look to do more one pass cultivation, and possibly use sprays for weed control instead of diesel and cultivation. Instead of cultivating the land and doing a task because that's how we have always done it, we would ensure that the cultivation was essential in the process.

The water is likely to be taken out of the milk at the farm dairy, so tankers will come less often to carry away the raw product.

Push bikes could be used to get around the property. When you can buy a new 14 speed, nobbly-tired bike for $150, why don't you buy a new one every year. It has to be cheaper than running vehicles and 4wd bikes up and down the farms constantly.

I know on our dairy farm we used an old push bike, and it was very pleasant. In fact what we did was lean on the last cow, hang onto her hip bones, and she would tow us back to the cowshed.

Again it is amazing what you can you can see and hear when there is silence following the cows up the race. This would also take a lot of pressure off the cows in the race, may reduce foot troubles and it would make for quieter cows.

There is mounting evidence that we as farmers don't get enough exercise. A push bike could save time and fuel but further more, negate us from having to go to the gym to get fit, not that many farmers go to the gym anyway.

I have a client who has in fact bought a push bike on a large dairy farm. His house is at the far end of the farm, and he really enjoys biking backwards and forwards.

If you look at Vietnam, we could all run around on motor scooters rather than taking our expensive cars. This would be a huge saving, and imagine how much less wear and tear on the roads there would be if we got rid of all the big 4wd's and the Remuera tractors.

Imagine going to town and coming home with a backpack full of groceries and farm supplies. The vet might even do his rounds on a motorbike with his pockets stuffed full of drugs and medicines for their livestock. I know I am getting carried away here, but the message is simple and real.

In summary, petrol and diesel is going to rise further, and will not drop in price. The increases in price will put pressure on our economy, and on our farming businesses. We need to all think about some of the things that we can do to reduce costs, consumption of fuel, and reliance on this diminishing resource.

We will see farmers markets popping up everywhere, and a lot of produce will go direct from the farm to the client using couriers rather than putting it through the expensive transport and supermarket infrastructure that we have now.


 

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