Monday, 9 December 2013
Nuffield Travels Day 14 - Another World Class Farm!
Monday morning soon came around after a late night writing a couple of blogs, packing up, doing some washing and getting ready to take Tom to the airport. We took the scenic route over the Rakaia gorge to see what effects the previous days rain has had on the flow rates. There certainly was a lot more water gushing through the narrow gorge before the river widened out further down strewn. It's one thing I have really noticed about he main rivers in New Zealand is their sheer width but also the fact that they run fairly shallow. The rocks and shingle that litter the river beds must be constantly changing.
Even after yesterdays rain fall, the sprinklers, rain guns, pivots and rota-rainers were all in action again today. They are part of the landscape here, gently delivering the life giving water to the crops. Without the water, the plains would be sparsely populated with sheep and beef, with very little intensive agriculture. After dropping Tom at Christchurch airport I headed out to meet Nuffield Scholar Craige Mackenzie who lives and farms near Methven.
Craige and wife Roz, farm dairy and arable in a very precise way. Craige is passionate about growing the best crops that he can on his various soil types. Variable rate technology is employed to manage inputs, including water across the farm paddocks. Soil types have been mapped to enable water to be applied to different nozzles depending on where they are (gps) across the paddock. Maps generated through the green seeker system are also used to variably apply growth regulators and even fungicides to optimise the performance of the crop in a specific area of the field. This is great news for the business's financial performance and also the environment. Take the VR Irrigation as an example. By knowing the water deficit at the start of the season and only irrigating to a point below field saturation (i.e. when runoff or drainage works) all the nutrients applied to the field are retained in the field. This information is monitored remotely and can be sent to Craige's phone where ever he is in the world! The precision farming aspect of the family business is run through a company called Agrioptics If you are interested in precision agriculture then tho sis definitely worth a look!
We looked in at a very special field of wheat. The plant population and the management of the crop has been exceptionally well thought out and planned. who's knows what the yield potential is here, only time will tell.