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Four Green Farmer Project CASE Studies

Four Green Farmer Project CASE Studies

Hawke’s Bay

Hawke’s Bay farmer Andrew Russell has been involved with Green Project since its conception three years ago. He saw an opportunity in the sustainable model to improve the long-term performance of the farm, and believes it has been a good business decision.

Asked what level of financial investment he has had to make to become involved with Green Project the answer was minimal, more a commitment of time and effort.

“It has been a re focus and re organisation of existing resources to foot the bill toward a long term business approach. For example, we’ve focused on fencing and tree planting, and how we can better use these resources for long term financial gains.”

The biggest environmental factor Andrew contends with is drought, and to proof his property he’s creating large reserves of silage and fodder crops, and has developed a mix of stock providing flexibility in drier times.

Another innovation is a monitoring schedule of animal health product use, creating greater efficiency.

“This has helped reduce the animal health bill and improved the overall health of the stock.”

Changes in his stock management programme include a reduction in their breeding programme during drought periods to provide further flexibility. They have also taken a more balanced approach to their sheep and cattle ratio, helping to deliver a more balanced and natural parasite control.

Andrew’s overall feeling toward Green project in one of optimism, he says the hardest part has been bringing the different parts together under one plan. His number one objective is to ensure access to key markets for his products in the future. New Zealand agricultural products have a high quality image, by taking this one step further we create an even stronger competitive advantage over our competitors.

Andrew farms Tunanui Station with his father Sam and brother John. They employ a full time worker and a part time fencer and stock manager. The 1465ha property, at an average altitude of 400 metres with an average rainfall of 1095mm holds 13,500 stock units.

Case Study – Wanganui

Dougal and Dianne McIntosh have been involved with Green Project since its conception three years ago. Originally they were involved with S.U.B.S. (soils underpinning business success) and were motivated to progress to Green Project.

They believe the biggest challenge has been coming to terms with the new management style for sustainable farming.

“It’s about re-allocating resources to get the optimal productivity from what already exists, rather than rebuilding something new,” Dougal says.

“Originally I was a ‘seat of the pants operator’, now my animal health, land management and fertility programmes are all carefully planned and managed,” he said.

Through Green Project they have developed an environmental risk management programme against harsh seasonal weather patterns.

They have sought animal health advice, and changed from shower to a pour on dip reducing viral infections, animal and staff stress levels, and soil contamination from run off.

Dougal has also developed a food budgeting programme providing more confidence and flexibility, plus it helps to manage their cash flows.

A new strategic fertiliser programme has improved stock recovery times from drought and winter periods, and they have started using nitrogen in Spring which has made a big difference to productivity.

Their new land management policies include increased subdivision and water supply providing greater control and overall stronger pasture performances. The least productive areas of the farm have been planted in forestry, helping erosion, and reducing pest control costs.

The McIntosh’s are strong supporters of Green Project, and believe it is a smart move towards improving a farms’ sustainability. The up-coming field days are a good opportunity for other farmers to learn something, and to see whether they want to be involved for themselves.

Ratamarumaru holds 8,600 stock units with a sheep to cattle ratio of 80:20. Most lambs are finished and weaner cattle are sold store. In the last three years lambing has risen 120%. In 2003 500 hoggets have been put to the ram.

Case Study - Waikato

Mike and Jackie Carter, Piopio became involved in the Green Project because

they were interested in having an input into developing sustainable farming standards.

It was a good opportunity to share information with other farmers in the area, as well as other industry professionals.

The Carters believe sustainability is about building realistic standards that enable farmers to move forward while protecting and enhancing their land, and growing production.

“Sustainable farming is in our best interests, but the standards set need to be robust enough that they are recognised and relevant in the market place if we are to gain real benefit.

They feel increased global focus on food safety means its important New Zealand farmers lead an initiative toward a voluntary industry standard which they are comfortable with, and that will be acceptable internationally, before it is taken out of their hands.

Producing the three plans takes time, but the information gained and forward planning is a great help to farm management and making decisions.

Developing an animal heath program with animal integration and monitoring has helped minimizes chemical use. The Land Management plan has helped prioritise erosion control and our land sub-division and retirement program.

One of the best ways to find out more about Green Project, is talking with someone already involved, who’s had hands on experience and can provide a realistic account of what it really involves.

In regards to initial criticism of Green Project, the Carters said they could understand people’s concerns because they had some themselves. However they believe greater regulation will be demanded from the international marketplace sooner rather than later and that it is important New Zealand farmers make progress now, so they are well placed in the future, and they feel The Green Project will help do this.

Mike and Jackie run a 1000ha sheep and beef farm, running 4500 breeding ewes, 1400 breeding hoggets 200 Breeding Cows, and fatten 600 bulls at 18months.

Case Study – Waitotara

Rod Pearce’s Waitotara Valley Property is a tried and tested example of the type of workable and sustainable farming policies Green Project is all about.

In three years the 1500ha property has undergone a steady transformation, which has also helped attract permanent staff to live and work on the farm.

The Land and Environment plan allows five years to meet the projected targets and is an excellent farm management tool

Rod and his team have introduced strategic fencing, pole planting, water reticulation, stream protection, native re-vegetation, forestry, and reduced his chemical inputs, with the exception of fertiliser.

The planting programme, which includes a range of poplars, willows, redwoods and pines, has improved erosion control and added shade, shelter and vista.

The extensive water reticulation programme encourages livestock away from waterways and also will improve animal health and pasture utilisation.

Subdividing paddocks into Land Management Units has allowed greater options for managing livestock and also parasite control.

Rod says his biggest challenge has been coming to terms with a tree planting programme. For him, the concept of large- scale pole planting on steep hill country was, and still is, a concern and must be very carefully managed

The commitment he has made required a 10 per cent increase in on-farm expenditure over the first three years, (not including fertiliser). He is confident that returns will outstrip costs in the medium term

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