Adopting New Zealand dairy farm principles and practices in Argentina : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Masters in Applied Science in Agribusiness at Massey University, Palmerston North, New Zealand
The dairy sector is important to Argentina because it creates genuine wealth and employment. The competitiveness of Argentine dairy farms is crucial to the endurance of the dairy sector. One way to increase the competitiveness of dairy farm systems is to incorporate beneficial innovations. New Zealand (hereafter NZ) dairy systems are internationally known for their competitiveness without the presence of subsidies. Argentine dairy farmers have been attracted to NZ systems for more than 40 years. Simultaneously. NZ researchers and extension agents have been interested in extending NZ knowledge to Argentina. Despite the fact that the NZ knowledge appears to be beneficial to Argentine farms, and after so many resources spent. NZ practices have been rarely adopted. This seemingly fruitless effort in extending this technology shapes the research question of the present study: Can Argentine dairy farmers benefit from adopting New Zealand dairy farm principles and practices? The main objectives of the research are the following: 1) Define a group of New Zealand ideas. practices and technologies that could be considered potentially useful innovations for Argentine dairy farmers. 2) Assess the adoption and rejection of the NZ innovations by a group of Argentine farmers. 3) Identify the reasons of adoption and rejection for each innovation. 4) Describe the impact of the adoption in the physical and financial performance of the farms. 5) Assess which have been the main causes of the non-spread of NZ innovations in Argentine dairy farms. Seven Argentine dairy farmers, who were aware of NZ dairy systems, were selected as case studies. The data was collected through interviews, farm physical and economic records, and a field visit to the farm. In order to investigate the Argentine socio-economic environment and the Argentine dairy sector, relevant literature was reviewed and two key industry informants were interviewed. Two frameworks were utilized to analyse the qualitative and quantitative data: the Diffusion Theory (Rogers. 2003) and the IFCN network (International Farm Comparison Network www.ifennctwork.oru), respectively. Ten NZ innovations were defined; they were principles and practices considered typical in NZ dairy farms and not common in Argentine dairy farms. The innovations were related to four areas of the dairy system: pasture management, herd management & genetics, farm structure & organization, and human resources. The seven farmers dillercd in the level of adoption or rejection of the innovations. The two innovations most adopted were: Focus on Production per Hectare and NZ Style of Milking Shed and Milking System; and the two least adopted were: Less than 15 cows per Set of Teat-cups and other innovations related to labour productivity and Utilization of Formal Pasture Budgets. Some associations were found between the level of adoption of NZ innovations by the case study farms, the most relevant follows: increments in Return on Investment (ROI); reduction of land costs per kg of milk produced and increments in labour productivity. The NZ principle Less than 15 cows per Set of Teat-cups was found to be the innovation most closely associated with increase in labour productivity. NZ Genetics cows were found to be necessary for the adoption of seasonal calving. An association was found between the adoption of NZ Genetics and higher milk yield per kilogram of live weight, and lower mortality and replacement rates, than those that had not adopted.