Farm biodiversity praised
Fifth generation farmers on a new dairy conversion have won the Southland Ballance Farm Environment awards.
Winners Ryan and Abby Moseby achieved good milk production in only the fourth year after a conversion at Kanadale Farm and were praised by judges at a function last week for their care of the environment, water quality and biodiversity.
The couple are owners and operators of a farming business carried out on 355 hectares, 65 per cent of which is the milking platform. The property has been in the family since 1874, including dairying in the 1920s and 1930s, and was converted again to dairying in 2014 so Ryan and Abby could make farm succession possible.
Ryan said they had a long-term value of sustainability as fifth generation family farmers and hoped to be able to provide the same farming opportunities to their children that they received from their parents.
Their family had made huge inroads on the development of the farm and its aesthetic appeal, and the couple were now trying to put their own stamp on it, Ryan said.
Awards judges said Kanadale Farm’s owners showed dairy conversion and environmental enhancement was not mutually exclusive. For the conversion, they put together a good support team, did plenty of research and asked the Land Sustainability Team from Environment Southland for their advice beforehand.
‘‘Attention to detail is evident in things like the location and gradient of lanes, provision of buffer areas, design of stock water systems and choice of infrastructure for effluent storage and application. The property has considerable variation, including a 200 metre elevation change to the furthest paddocks, which had been used for winter crops but are now in the milking platform. It has a lot of character, in part due to the rolling to steep contour and extensive plantings.’’
Where possible, existing trees and shelterbelts were retained during the conversion for their aesthetic and ecological values and to protect stock.
The Mosebys run a low input system based around good pasture management. Milk production last season was just under 300,000 kilograms of milk solids and a creditable 433kg a cow. That was from a 233ha milking platform and a milking herd of 685 cows, while the rest of the farm was used for cropping, forestry and a small area of dry stock grazing.
The couple admitted they were not experts and always sought a lot of advice, Ryan said.
The farm has more than 20ha in pine plantations and 7ha in plantations of other tree species. All plantings on the farm add to the biodiversity values and animal welfare. Possums, rabbits and hares are controlled with night shooting. There are several duck ponds, sediment traps and other habitats on the farm with more being developed. Within the waterways there are freshwater lobsters, eels and trout.
Recycled water from the dairy shed is used to greenwash the yard, which has not been hosed in four years.
Extensive riparian planting and stock exclusion along waterways has ensured creeks are clear flowing year round and a planting plan maps out the next stages of this process. Care has been taken to minimise the risk of effluent, sediment and other contaminants entering the stream which provides a back-up water supply to the town of Mataura.
Fertiliser wastage is reduced by using a Tracmap GPS system for fertiliser spreading and sectional and variable speed controls on the spreader.
‘‘A low-cost structure did not cause a corresponding drop in production as money was spent in the right areas and a proactive, positive attitude meant there is a focus on doing the things that matter rather than bemoaning the things that can’t be changed,’’ the judges said.
As well as winning the regional supreme award, the couple won the soil management award and the sustainability and stewardship award.
Colin and Dot McDonald, who run the 534ha sheep and beef property, Stonewood Farm, at Tokanui in the southern Southland hills, won the livestock award, agri-science award, predator free farm award and farm planting and design award.
Matt and Sarah McKenzie won the innovation award, integrated management award and water quality and biodiversity award at 330ha Willow Creek Dairies near Woodlands.
The 21ha Lake Vincent is the jewel in the centre of Greenbush Farms, owned by Scott and Chris McKenzie on the south coast, near Fortrose. The McKenzies won the agri-business management award.
The Mosebys will host a field day on the Boundary Road property from 10am on May 10.
Kanadale farmers Ryan and Abby Moseby are this year’s Southland Ballance Farm Environment Award winners.