Cropping comes home to dryland farm
Fifth generation Darfield farmer Matthew Reed has made a successful business out of harvesting in Mid Canterbury over the past 14 years, but the harvest he’ll most look forward to bringing in this coming season will be his own.
Water from the Central Plains Water irrigation scheme is set to transform the family farm, Broadgate, which has long been a dryland sheep farm. Around two-thirds of the 200 hectare property is now going into crop, with the remainder kept as pasture for stock.
“This area used to be called ‘the desert’ because it’s so dry, so to be getting water here from September is pretty exciting,” says Matthew, who farms Broadgate Farm Ltd with wife Leanne; Matthew’s mother Helen also lives on the farm, lending a hand when needed.
“We have wheat and barley in the ground already and we’re going to grow peas, radish and potatoes for the first season.”
Matthew and Leanne, who have a young daughter Emma, very much see their considerable investment in water as necessary to secure the farm’s future. “It’s very expensive to have a failed crop on dry land. We’ve seen enough droughts in our time here so we don’t mind paying the bill for water.”
It has been a busy winter for Matthew, who has taken a hands’ on approach to the arable upgrade.
Old fences and shelter belts have been removed to make way for new fencing and irrigation infrastructure including two new lateral irrigators.
“They were installed by Ray Mayne Hose and Fittings Limited, who have done a great job and have been tremendous to deal with.”
In 2004, following the death of his father, Mat thew founded Broadgate Harvesting as a specialist service for Canterbury’s arable farmers.
In his first season, he harvested around 300 acres of mainly cereal crops. Last year, his company harvested almost 10 times that amount and Matthew now employs three other full-time staff.
Along with conventional crops such as wheat, barley, grass seed, peas and clover, Broadgate Harvesting also brings in high value vegetable seed crops including radish, pak choi, carrots, beet and chrysanthemum.
These crops need careful handling. Broadgate Harvesting is equipped with the very latest Case IH Axial Flow combines that are ideal for this specialist work.
“We have two brand new machines this season plus our fleet of older machines to take up the slack when it gets busy. The new machines are equipped with yield mapping and data logging that will be very useful for farm environmental plans in future.”
Whether it’s just one paddock of radish or 400 acres of crop, Broadgate Harvesting is equipped for the job.
“We don’t mind doing those smaller high value jobs – we are harvest specialists; name the crop and we’ll harvest it.”
Running the harvesting business alongside the family farm can be a juggle, particularly with the changes on-farm this year. Yet Matthew and Leanne are excited about what the future holds.
“I’ll have my own crops to take off now. Truly, this irrigation scheme is the biggest thing to come through here since my grandfather’s day.”
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