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Frustration around farm water quality, carbon credits

Kim Stewart Dec 12
Frustration around farm water quality, carbon credits
PHOTOS: Riparian fencing and planting on the Wallace farm and straw bale sediment barrier at the bottom of a critical source area in worked ground after heavy rain. Waipahi farmer and Federated Farmers Otago/Southland Meat and Wool vice-chair Logan Wallace says he is concerned that the actual reality of water quality existing on farms isn’t appreciated by those asserting further stringent standards and compliances.

These past six years Logan Wallace has leased and operated an intensive sheep and beef farm from his parents at Waipahi, not far from the Otago/Southland border.

He’s been busy evolving the farm’s management systems since returning from stints farming in the UK and Australia – experiences he relished and benefited from the 290 ha (270ha effective) farm is gentle rolling country.

There’s a total of 30ha tussock and since stepping on to the property Logan has continued developing it’s footprint through additional fencing.

“There’s still more fencing around water-ways to be taken care of, but we do this work as we can afford to, usually committing between $10,000 – $15,000 a year from the farm budget on improvements, including planting shelter trees and the farm’s riparian tunnel.”

Farming life has its ups and downs as was experienced last year when all the new plantings were lost to hard frosts late October and again in early April. “We’re just now reassessing what we will do.”

The flock of 2600 ewes and 700 hoggets are Frustration around farm water quality, carbon creditsSue Russellsplit into two flocks, with B flock going to terminal. Lambing of the B flock gets underway late August while the main A flock commences 10 September .

“Lambing has gone well so far. We give the lambs a preweaning drench first week of November. Weaning for the B flock is in the first week of December and a week later for the A flock.”

The goal in terms of lambing rate is 160%, however the dry autumns have impacted on this with 137% being achieved the past two seasons. Logan says the farm is generally summer safe, but will usually experience one dry month.

“The last couple of years have been unusually very dry summers so I am looking at trying to change my pasture rotation system and grow some summer crops that will hold quality. We have had very good results so far.”Last year proved a milestone one for Logan when he was awarded New Zealand Young Farmer of the Year.

He was especially proud to have kept the national title in the South.“In the grand final you get into the tough stuff. I spent two days a week studying because you have to know about every single farming situation.”

Logan got involved with Federated Farmers six years ago, initially sponsored to do a leadership course followed by becoming Otago/Southland Young Farmer representative on the organisation a year later.

Today he is the areas Meat and Wool vice chair attending meetings every second month that cover a multitude of farming related policy issues, affecting farmers locally and at a national level.

“We go through the policies coming up both regionally and nationally and the two main ones are around water quality and zero carbon regulations passed by Government.”

Logan says recent water testing on the farm has indicated very good water quality. He’s concerned that the actual reality of water quality existing on farms isn’t appreciated by those asserting further stringent standards and compliances.

“All this policy is going to do is add $5,000 – $10,000 to already tight farm budgets. That money has to come from somewhere. Punishing everyone in my opinion is heavy-handed and counter-productive. I think there are large misunderstandings of what farmers have been doing.”

He says what had traditionally been advised as best practice 20 years ago had harmed water quality but changes that the industry has made will start to show results once the past damage has fixed its self.

“There is a very strict time-line impacting on agriculture and Federated Farmers, along with other governance organisations are working hard to get around the table with policy makers to affect change.”

Logan feels that one of the most important roles for Federated Farmers to achieve is finding forums for farmers actually working the land and dealing with the daily reality of running a successful farming business in front of policy makers across a range of environmental contexts.

Frustration around farm water quality, carbon credits

Spring lambs and ewes grazing. The flock of 2600 ewes and 700 hoggets is split into two flocks

“I find it frustrating for example that we have planted 4500 trees on this property but because it’s shelter belts rather than a forestry block we can’t receive carbon tax credits.”

Summing up his attitude to the importance of groups like Federated Farmers Logan says he is passionate about making sure that farmers have people to speak up for them.“That’s needed more so now, than ever before.”

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