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Mike Moss’ Speech at Green Party Smart Farming Launch

Farm Owner Mike Moss’ Speech at Green Party Smart Farming Launch

Mike Moss

Just over 30 years ago and shortly after converting the easier part of the farm to dairy we started fencing the main Waitetuna Stream.

At the time our only motivation was to keep the stock out of the river. Searching for and rescuing cows from the river is difficult and time consuming and of course in the worst instance they can drown.

Soon after that we started fencing some of the other waterways and larger wetlands. We had reduced stock losses and saw a big improvement in the ease of stock management.

At today’s values, a good cow is worth $2000 - $3000, and her production is a similar figure. In other words save a cow and that’s about $5000 that can be spent on fencing, with electric fencing that goes a very long way!

Importantly we also started noticing a marked improvement in water quality.

About 19 years ago, Whaingaroa Harbour Care came along with a refreshingly collaborative approach to farmers, essentially saying we want to clean up the harbour, and if you would like to work with us we would like to help you. In short a no brainer!

Our very first plants from Harbour Care went in an area by the driveway and since then with the help of Harbour Care and some help from Waikato Regional Council, we have fenced and planted 14 kms of waterways and retired and protected 9 ha of wetlands.

The benefits that we are seeing from the riparian work carried out, has far exceeded our expectations.
• No stock losses to waterways or wetlands
• Ease of management and improved stock control
• Cleaner water
• Save thousands of dollars per year in not having to clean drains with a digger
• Shade and shelter for stock
• Shelter for pastures from drying winds in summer
• Improved habitat for biodiversity including aquatic life, birds and insects
• Food source for bees
• Buffer zones to reduce run off and trap nutrients
• Wetlands especially good nutrient traps and help regulate the flow of water (hold water in wet periods and let it go in dry
• Aesthetically pleasing

Most of these benefits carry a measurable value in financial terms and an immeasurable value in terms of our personal goals around sustainability and stewardship.

There is another real benefit that I would never have anticipated 20 years ago.

The environmental work that we have invested in has now become an important part of the image or ‘branding’ of this farm.

We have become increasingly involved in the local food movement, supplying milk and meat to local families, and environmental integrity is a major factor in their purchasing decision. Many of these families take the opportunity to come out let the kids help milk some cows or go for walk and check out the waterways etc.

If we go a step further and expand this concept to a national level, I think it could put New Zealand right on track to be viewed internationally as the clean green ‘top end’ food supplier to the world, with the added benefit of being a great place to visit and boost tourism as well.


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