Paul Blackler is in partnership with his parents, Kent and Barbara, on the 1400ha family farm near Roxburgh, in Central Otago.The farm has an expansive outlook with terrain ranging in elevation from 200m to 900m above sea-level. This geographic footprint dictates to some degree how the 2400 Merino ewes and 140 Hereford cattle are managed.
When Rural South spoke with Paul he described the situation of the farm in terms of pasture quality as fantastic, on the back of a nice mild winter. The main flock of ewes began lambing early October.
“We leave the ewes to lamb on their own and don’t interfere with them. We don’t worry about scanning as we can’t efficiently utilise taking out multiples for special treatment. “We lamb over an extensive area and just leave them to it and it works in terms of producing a healthy lamb with good growth rates,” says Paul.
During the mating season the rams are put out for three cycles and tailing commences about the end of November.The farm has a diverse pasture mix and Paul says it has definitely responded positively to this regime.
Species includes prairie grass, cocksfoot, fescue, timothy, white and red clover, lucerne, chicory, plantain and kale The kale is introduced for the cattle and a rape mix is undersown with the clover blend spread out over 30ha with a further 50ha of ryecorn to break in older paddocks.
A priority is to create more subdivisional fencing to create more control over where the stock graze.Paul has a keen interest in soil fertility and nutrition and is quick to point out the help and advice he has received from agronomist Thomas Bird at Wholesale Seeds.
He sees the future improvement in farming out-puts as relating directly to the quality of the pasture and crops grown. A future challenge will come in the form of fencing off water-ways over a metre wide, however Paul says the farm is currently compliant in terms of water quality compliances.
He has been pursuing further learning around regenerative farming practices, impacting on soil fertility. Come February Paul continues this journey with a four day course ‘Regenerate 2020’ to be held in Christchurch
The forum will be led by Director of Integrity Soils, soil-ecologist Nicole Masters, who has nearly two decades involvement in the regenerative ag industry.
Author of ‘For the Love of Soil’, Nicole will be joined by Graeme Sait, CEO and co-founder of Nutri-Tech Solutions. Graeme developed the Certificate of Nutrition Farming® and specialises in soil, plant, animal and human health.
For Paul, it’s an opportunity to understand more of the science that sits behind a natural ‘out of the box’ approach to caring for the soil and he’s keen to see how this new learning will impact on his own decisions regarding further tweaking of pasture management.
“We’re just trying to move our thinking to outside the box and find systems that will benefit us.”Paul enjoys rubbing shoulders with other young farmers and is quite involved with the local Young Farmers group.
It’s a space which provides a social outlet as well as an opportunity to hear how other farmers are approaching farm management practices.
“We’re all from farming backgrounds. It’s a great place to bounce ideas around.” For Paul and his parents who have worked hard to build the farm’s potential over the years there is satisfaction to be gained from looking back at how much value has been added.
“I am very interested to see what we can achieve through new approaches and I’m always keen to learn new ideas that could be introduced.”
This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…
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