A showcase for the environment
visited an award-winning Wairarapa farm to see what makes it stand out from the crowd.
Located both sides of a busy rural road means Nathan and Kate Williams’ crops, sheep and beef farm is a showcase for the agriculture sector.
After winning the Greater Wellington Ballance Farm Environment Awards earlier this year, Nathan and Kate Williams are confident they’re doing the right things and are proud of their efforts.
The couple own 237ha on the western side of the MastertonCastlepoint road, about 4km from the outskirts of Masterton, and lease 100ha from Nathan’s parents on the eastern side of the road.
The road itself has been the cause of headaches in the past, so $86,000 was spent on an underpass between the two blocks in November-December 2014.
‘‘The council contributed about a quarter of that because of the volume of traffic on the road. It has transformed how we run stock across there,’’ Nathan says.
‘‘We don’t want to be responsible for anything going wrong on the road,’’ Kate adds.
‘‘Moving stock between the blocks was always such an issue with someone on either side of the crossing as well as someone moving the stock. The underpass has just taken that worry away. It has also proved a great thing with the kids going to and from their grandparents’ house on the other block as well.’’
That summer was a busy one for the farm. The dirt from the underpass was used as a base for two new silos, which was built the week after that Christmas.
‘‘Within a day of finishing each silo they were in use. It was an early harvest that season,’’ Nathan says.
Most years the farm’s income is shared evenly between crops and livestock. They are flexible about what they grow and base their decisions on the market, contracts available and the weather. Core crops in recent years have been ryegrass and red clover for seed and barley.
They’re going into a second year without peas in their crop rotation.
The pest insect pea weevil was found on several Wairarapa commercial pea-growing and storage properties last winter. The Ministry for Primary Industries banned commercial and domestic pea growing in the Wairarapa district south of Pahiatua for two years.
‘‘We have 200ha of crop of which 15 to 16 per cent is normally peas. We’ll see what the pea traps bring in this year. They caught a lot last year but hopefully that won’t be the case this time.’’
Nathan and Kate Williams have been farming Otahuao near Masterton in their own right since 2009.