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Small changes have a big impact

Small changes have a big impact

The environment is the responsibility of everyone – not just farmers. That’s the message that Angela and Trevor Corbin of Tutira would like to get across in order to fast track solutions.

“Everyone has an environmental impact – individuals, industry etc. We all need to take responsibility and commit to doing something about it in order to solve the problem,” says Trevor.

This point really came to light for the couple when they became involved in a bid to improve the water quality of Lake Tutira.

Even though their farm falls outside the catchment area the couple has completed an environment plan through Fonterra and is committed to making changes to their farming system to improve their environmental footprint.

The plan is reviewed annually and so far changes to their farm have included fencing off vulnerable areas and winter cropping on flatter land to reduce opportunity for run off.

Trevor is adamant that small changes can make a big difference long term. The Corbins started milking in their late twenties. Angela grew up on a dairy farm in Kereone, near Morrinsville, and later a sheep and beef unit in Te Kuiti.

Trevor grew up in Hamilton and qualified as a roading engineer. The couple met through Young Farmers and started milking cows together on wages in 1983 near Tirau.

They now farm in an equity partnership on a sheep and beef unit with Angela’s father Ian.

The 430ha total/190ha effective farm milks a herd of 570, predominantly Jersey cows, through a 50-bail rotary shed with automatic cup removers. There is 100ha of a dditional land used as a support block for growing silage, wintering and running young stock.

The remainder of the farm is hill country where they run 500 Romney sheep and 30-40 beef cattle.

The Corbins say it’s an easy care operation selling store lambs and wool and using the beef cattle to keep the place tidy for the sheep.

The farm is self-sufficient and this is a real focus for the family to give their business certainty. Trevor says the danger when the payout rises is spending more money.

“We’ve disciplined ourselves to maintain our cost structure as it was during the downturn. Any surplus is used to pay down debt. This means that by reducing our mortgage we are more profitable each year and also gives us the ability to negotiate better rates with the bank,” explains Trevor.

The couple employ one full time and one part time staff member. Angela takes care of the farm takes on the day-to-day management of the unit.

Ian is still actively involved with feeding out and other tractor work. This season they are on target to produce 180,000 kilograms, which would better last season’s record production of 170,000.

“It’s been a phenomenal season for growing grass. We’ve not needed to feed out and have been able to make extra silage so it’s looking good heading into winter.”

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