“I had to have my arm twisted by people in the industry,” the Woodlands Road, Gordonton, dairy farmer says. “They decided it was something others should see. Between them and our consulting officer, they kept on asking until I said yes.”
So he and wife Raewyn were both pleasantly surprised to find out they had won the category for pasture sown more than three years ago.
It’s especially pleasing because the last few years have been a challenging time.
“The last four years up to this season has been a hard slog, with the drought and then black beetle. We’ve had to re-sow a lot of pasture because of that, but this one paddock stood up to all the pressure.”
Further, the farm is right in the middle of peat country. When the land was first purchased, it was said this part of the former Woodlands estate would never amount to much. (N8N’s own farmer father-in-law said when rabbits moved into that area, they had to bring their own packed lunch.)
“There’s a metre and a half of peat. The interesting thing is that Andrew Myers, who won the best first-year pasture category, also farms on peat.”
Wayne says there is no particular secret with the winning paddock. “It has been treated in the same way as every other paddock on the farm. Growth-wise it has grown 10 to 15% better than average over its entire life, but only once has it been in the top four or five paddocks. It’s just been consistent, resilient and maintained its ryegrass content through its life.”
There have been a few failures with new grass along the way – “in the last four years we’ve re-sown on average 20% of the farm. That doesn’t mean 80% of the farm in four years; the paddocks have only lasted two years and needed to be re-sown.”
His advice? “Use a grass which is proven to persist under your environment and management. For us, that was Trojan NEA2, which we used last year. Before that we used Tolasa NEA2, which is basically the same. “
They have also grown crops to try and break the life cycle of the black beetles.
“They are hard to kill. Someone said he jumped up and down on one, and it just walked away. “At times it felt it was a cycle you can’t win, but this paddock has proven you can – it’s just a matter of persisting.”