Farm bio­di­ver­sity praised

The Southland Times - - WEATHER - RU­RAL RE­PORTER

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.

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