Adventures and Agriculture in New Zealand travel blog

Tyler, Campbell and Ingrid

Today we visited a Monitor Farm. New Zealand does not have an extension system like we have in the U.S. so they have developed a Monitor Farm System. Farmers apply to be a monitor farm and if selected, the farm is appointed a farm facilitator. In addition, a committee is formed to help make decisions about topics to be studied on the monitor farm. The committee consists of local community members, including farms and individuals involved in agri-business. The committee helps decided what problems local farmers are facing and the monitor farm is used to conduct studies to evaluate the problems and make recommendations. In addition, the farm facilitator and committee can also assist with problems the owner of the monitor farm is experiencing. As part of the monitor farm program, the farm owner agrees to have several field days each year. The farm remains a monitor farm for three years.

Campbell and Ingrid have a flat, dryland farm that has the capacity for 6000 stock units. The farm is currently home to 3300 ewes and 900 hoggets. In addition, they contract graze 230 dairy replacements, and fatten 50-80 beef steers. Campbell and Ingrid walked through several different pastures to look at pasture growth and evaluated the pastures in terms of potential to supply what the stock need at different times of the year. We were also able to see a well- grazed pasture of summer brassica. We came to some grass silage and Campebell explained his philosophy on harvesting and storing feed (doesn't like to do it) and why he prefers to have the animals harvest the feed. This was the place we really got a lesson on the invasive ability of barley grass and the nasty little seed it produces. Campbell spoke to us about his lambing management and about issues he faces with dry ewes. It was an interesting look at dry-land farming here in Canterbury! Thank you Campbell and Ingrid.

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