Flipping a saviour on saturated soil
The West Coast’s notoriety for heavy rainfall combined with heavy pakihi soils can present a farming challenge but that is where flipping becomes hero.
An alternative to humping and hollowing and originally used as preparation for dairy farming on the Coast, flipping is when the soil is typically dug to a depth 2 – 3 metres, partly inverting and mixing it, and breaking up any iron pan to improve drainage.
On Pamu’s 2100 hectare Cape Foulwind dry stock property, 420 hectares were flipped in the early 2000s and now provide the farm’s highest yielding pastures, producing 10 tonne of dry matter each year.
Farm Manager Gavin Cederman explains that the pakihi soil, which has a solid iron pan between 300mm and over a metre below the surface gets very water logged and cannot drain away. “With the rain we’ve had over the last couple of months you just have to look at it and it makes a mess. We get 2.5 – 3.5 metres rainfall each year and we’ve already had 2.8metres.
The 420 hectares of flipped soil provides a valuable management tool.”Located 10 minutes south of Westport, the farm is a breed and finish operation for deer and cattle, with 5000 store lambs bought in for finishing.
“We have 2500 English Red breeding hinds and 100 breeding stags. From the progeny we keep 600 replacements with the rest all finished. We aim for a carcass weight of 55kg. Our 250 breeding cows are Angus and we retain 50 calves as replacements, finishing the rest.”
Of the 2100 hectares of flat to rolling farmland, 1950 hectares are effective, with the balance made up of fenced native forest and QEII National Trust land.In addiiton to the flipped portion of the farm Gavin says having the right stock on the land at the right time is the farm’s biggest management tool.
“The cattle don’t go anywhere near that wet ground during the winter because they just make a mess of it. The deer are ok at that time because they have a lighter footprint. On the pakihi soil we’re doing about 500 hectares of oversown pasture at the rate of 100 hectares per year.”
Growing up on his parents dry stock farm in the King Country you could say that Gavin’s farming journey started before he was old enough to walk.After leaving school in 2010 Gavin took a cadet-ship with Pamu’s Aratiatia Station just out of Taupo, before accepting a shepherding role with one of Pamu’s farms in Te Anau.
“After a year and a half I ended up on this farm. I came as a shepherd and stepped my way up through the ranks for about four years till I got to stock manager. Then the boss retired and I applied for that job and got it. So I’ve been managing the farm for just over three years now.”
In addition to a love of the land and animals, Gavin is passionate about watching his team grow, develop and take on more responsibility.
“There’s huge growth in people. Watching them develop and hone their skills, taking the reins and making decisions for themselves—that’s awesome to watch.”Gavin says he still has things he wants to achieve at Cape Foulwind, but in the next couple of years he may look at overseas farming experiece in Canada.
This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…
- Johnson Bros Transport
- Scaife Scanning
- Sam Win Shearing
- Sutherland Tyres
- Pearson’s Contracting Ltd