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Pasture renewal, cropping key areas

Pasture renewal, cropping key areas

Pamu farm business manager, Joan Barendsen, says on-going goals on the blocks she manages are to farm in a way that reduces the environmental footprint and increases sustainability and profitability.

It’s a precept of Pamu, the brand Landcorp has developed to reflect its focus on producing a high value, grass-fed product that is also considerate of the environment.

Joan oversees the operations on Pamu Central Plateau’s Orakonui, Renown and Burgess blocks. Orakonui is a support block for 19 dairy farms, comprising 2970ha over eight different land blocks.

The land is leased from Wairakei Estate, which is 25,704ha of land owned by three families with the vision of creating one of the largest and most environmentally sustainable pastoral farms in the Southern Hemisphere.

Joan says that early in the project, the estate owners identified Landcorp Farming Ltd as an ideal partner to run the farming operation. Landcorp’s corporate structure and values were a ‘good fit’ with the vision for Wairakei Estate.

This season Orakonui will winter 800 carry over cows, 3100 replacement dairy heifers and 6900 mixed age cows.

In addition Orakonui will carry 3,053 bull beef/finishing stock through the winter with some destined for slaughter in February/March 2020.

Joan says the aim is to grow these finishing animals to 550 plus kilogram heifers and 600 plus kilogram steers prior to slaughter. The current focus for the team is to increase dry matter production and improve the EBIT/ha, which currently sits at $607.

She says strategies around achieving these goals include pasture renewal, with careful selection of pasture species to match climate and soil profile established through soil testing per block, and incorporating more cropping.

This coming cropping season 120ha will be cropped with a final goal of 150ha. This should reduce the need for inputs such as nitrogen and fertiliser. Orakonui is also part of a dairy beef progeny trial with Massey University and Beef + Lamb.

“It is looking at using beef sires over dairy stock and how this cross impacts on the eating quality and finishing performance compared to traditional beef animals. This should enable us to select the best beef sires to use across our dairy herds to reduce our bobby calf footprint.” she says.

Orakonui helps support Renown and Burgess. Burgess is a 260ha unit milking 620 cows twice a day.

Renown is a 660ha unit milking 1650 cows and is in its third season of once a day, a move which was made due to the long distances the cows had to walk to the shed, which can by up to four kilometres over hilly to steep contoured ground. Joan says it has had a positive impact on animal health and welfare, two other goals of Pamu.

“We have seen production bounce back to 320 kilograms of milk solids per cow.

The goal is 400 kilograms. The cows are content and we have seen a lift in average body condition score and an improved six week in calf rate.

“We are aiming for more compact calving and to maintain the body condition scores over the season with consistent feed levels, with a view to increasing days in milk.”

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