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Best practice focus of iwi-owned farm

Best practice focus of iwi-owned farm
PHOTOS: Pouarua farm manager Roger Griffi n and general manager Jenna Smith; The Garden of Intent is planted with native plants used by iwi for medicine and textiles.

Since it was fully taken over by iwi in June this year, Pouarua Farms has instigated a number of measures to achieve a best practice, sustainable operation, says Pouarua Farms’ general manager, Jenna Smith. Previously farmed for five years in a partnership between local iwi and Landcorp, Pouarua Farms Limited Partnership is now owned by Ngati Maru, Ngati Paoa, Ngati Tamatera, Ngati Tara Tokanui and Te Patukirkiri, which has taken operational ownership giving the opportunity to fully focus on creating a sustainable diverse business, says Jenna.

Pouarua Farms is the largest single platform in the region and employs around 45 staff and families spread across nine farms and 2200ha in the Hauraki Plains. Pouarua Farms has a strong focus on staff retention and offered all Landcorp employees the option to continue their employment on the property under iwi management.

Training is also important, says Jenna, with an annual staff training policy in place and opportunities for further advancement within the business as well as an emphasis on employing locally where possible. The farm runs 4600 stock units to enable the farms to be run sustainably and self sufficiently.

The farms are now predominantly grass fed systems with 200ha set aside to grow maize and grass silage to carry the farms through certain parts of the season. Jenna says this has gone hand in hand with an increased focus on best practice, low input farming netting good results.“

For example, since 1 June we would typically have fed 1000 tonnes of supplement. But this year we have fed zero supplement,” she says.Staff has been trained to become accredited body condition scorers and a big focus was placed on ensuring the cows were in great condition heading into the key areas of the season, she says.

By assessing stock every two weeks before the herd headed into the winter, a minimum 4.5 body condition score was achieved. Training around feed planning and modelling has also been important and staff have also been up-skilled in this area as “grass is king”, says Jenna.There has also been a real focus on the environment with a five year capital riparian planting plan underway.

With predominantly peat soils every paddock has a drain so planting drainways for natural filtration has been a target, says Jenna. The farms also include a Garden of Intent, planted with native plants used by iwi for medicine and textiles.

Capital investment has been poured into the farms over the past five years including a new 54 bail rotary on one farm with other ageing sheds due to be replaced in time. New effluent ponds and infrastructure have been built giving all farms an above ground clip tank and low application hard hose guns with the latest GPS tracking technology and safety systems.

Best practice focus of iwi-owned farm

Drain plantings on Pouarua Farm A.

Pouarua Farms is targeting nearly 1.6m kilograms of milk solids this season and has had a great start to the season, with production up 11% on budget. Jenna says the aim going forward is to look at developing closer relationships with the local community and building an intergenerational asset for the iwi.

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