Saturday, 21 December 2013

Nuffield in New Zealand Day 25

After leaving Invercargill headed out towards Dunedin again and headed through a small town called Edendale.  This is home to one of the largest milk powder plants in the south Island.  The site was huge, with lorry unit's with trailers almost constantly arriving and departing to collect the milk.  The air was sweet withe the smell.  Almost all of the milk powder produced in New Zealand is exported around the world with a fair proportion heading into the Asian market where quality and traceability are of paramount importance.  Fonterra is a farmer owned co-op who is responsible for much of the milk processing, distribution and exporting of NZ milk powder.
I carried on to meet up with James Roy (right) and Jason Thompson.  James runs the very impressive family farm at Glen Islay with two other properties over a 70Km spread.  The farm at Glen Islay was running around 13-14,000 ewes on high hill country as well as arable land on the lower slopes.  The ewes have only really handled at tail docking time and then again at weaning, until now.  At weaning the first lambs are drawn and sent to the Alliance plant at Lorneville.
Crops included wheat, barley and oats as a cereal break crop.  Yields of wheat range between 8-14t/ha depending on the slot in the rotation. 
Lots of investment is being made into grain storage and drying.  The bin silos are each capable of storing about 800t of wheat.  The system is effective and simple.  Damper weather at harvest means that its all systems go when the crops are ready to be gathered up, and being this close to the southern coast this makes timing even more crucial.

Later in the day I headed across towards James’s cousin Peter Gardyn’s for a farm visit.  Peter was busy weaning ewes and lambs so I jumped in the yute and moved a bunch of ewes away down the farm.  It was great to do some practical faming even if it was just driving the truck. 
Peter is doing some amazing things to improve the land on the newly purchased farm and increasing it’s productivity.  Land is being drained, creeks fenced off and natural species shelter belts are being planted.  The farm is about 800 acres and carries a fairly high stocking rate, with 3,000 ewes, 650 lambing hoggets., 400 unmated hoggets and 100 head of bull beef.  The farm utilizes clover to a great degree to finish lambs through the spring and summer.  Peter and his father Graham, who runs an animal feed business are also involved in new Oats varieties trials.  The area traditionally grew very good quality Oats for a mill in Gore, before it closed. Now the nearest mill is in Dunedin.  Not much research has been done for a few years and this year a new variety is being multiplied up to sell to other growers.
The photograph above is Graham and Peter in the spring oat trials. It was greta to see progressive farmers work withe their customers to push forward new varieties to potentially return a higher margin to the farm and grow better, or suited oats to the customer.  Supply chain integration work well, it was good to see.
For winter feed the farm utilizes swedes as part of the cross over from grassland to arable rotation.  The grass fields; that could have been in grass for 5 years plus, are then sprayed off, ploughed worked and planted with Swedes in the spring.  Those swedes then provide winter rations for the ewes before returning to the arable rotation of wheat, barley and oats.

No comments: