Home > Latest News > Efficiency gains on sheep and beef farm in Wairoa

Latest News

May 26, 2007 Efficiency gains on sheep and beef farm in Wairoa

‘During the late eighties I bought some terrace country,’ recalls Jeff, ‘but it never looked right, it was yellow and the stock wouldn’t graze it properly. After advice from the local fertiliser rep I hit it with two applications of superphosphate, both 500kg/ha. But that didn’t improve anything. I decided to apply Hatuma dicalcic on it instead and within three years I could see a noticeable difference. The dung and other organic matter were breaking down, there was more soil life, a lot more growth, the moss disappeared off the southerly aspect, the grazing became even, and the yellow became green.

Size of farm (effective) 1,040ha
Stock Wairoa Karamu Stud – South Devon, Alton Vale Stud – Horned Hereford
Years of dicalcic use 30
Application (hill country) Hatuma No.8S (80% Dicalcic Sulphur / 20% Cropfi ne Lime) 0:3.6:0:8 @ 250kg/ha

Our soil’s condition has been very important to this operation. We credit our good stock health to it. In winter some of the southerly aspects may only get a couple of hours sun during the day, and we used to deal with all sorts of problems with stock on those areas. Now I feel the soil biology has played a huge role in correcting those issues. We’d spend weeks in the woolshed with daggy ewes that stretched from the crutch to the hocks. We’d fill fadges and fadges of the things. Now the sheep have hardly anything, nothing that can’t be dealt with in just a day or two.

Jeff & Cyril Brownlie

Jeff & Cyril Brownlie

With an increase in soil biology, we’re now getting better uptake of minerals in the plants. We used to copper all our ewes, but they don’t receive anything now, and the cattle don’t get as much as they used to either. It’s all coming from within the soil. The lambs are noticeably stronger-boned too.’

‘Spending less money on drenches is a big economic benefi t to having good soil condition,’ says Cyril. ‘We’ve found the downside to using the high analysis fertilisers is you’re creating stock problems you eventually have to fix.’

‘We get a lot of clover on the flats, yet the stock have never had bloat since we began using dicalcic,’ says Jeff. ‘And we’ve seemed to have eliminated staggers and milk fever too. They were all problems we’d constantly experience. Many of the farmers here are still wary of the risk and take costly precautions, but we don’t need to, they’re not an issue anymore.

We only use artifi cial nitrogen on the 20ha of cropping, never on the farm itself. On our dry northerly faces, there used to be no clover growing, but now we get it right to the top slopes. The amount that grows here is acquiring all the nitrogen it needs from the atmosphere. We know some people rely on urea to give them that effect, but it’s a cost we don’t have. Establishing and maintaining thick clover and rye is paramount, not only for the savings, but also to provide soil cover from the warm nor-westerlies we get.

Click here to read the rest of this case study

Leave a Reply