Passion for farming forges growth

Passion for farming forges growth
Joel Peterson has just stepped up as farm manager of Pamu’s Egmont Dairy unit.

Hugging the Manawatu River, Pamu’s 630-cow dairy unit Egmont Dairy sits on old swamp-land once a flax plantation in the early 1900s back in the day when the flax industry thrived. Converted to a sheep and beef property, the land went through a further conversion in the 1980s becoming the dairy unit it is today.Situated between Foxton and Shannon in the Moutoa area, Egmont Dairy is one of seven farms that make up Pamu’s Moutoa complex.
With a stop bank bordering the Manawatu River, the farm’s total area of 214 hectares has a milking platform of 194 hectares and includes a strip of fenced off land running between the stop bank and river.Even with tile drains throughout the farm the wet weather presents a challenge during winter and early spring.
Primarily a grass fed operation, proactive pasture management is essential to achieve the farm’s target of harvesting 16 tonne of dry matter per hectare over the season. To avoid pasture damage only 380 cows are wintered on farm and two stand-off pads provide valuable farm infrastructure when the ground becomes at risk of pugging.
The farm has been managed by 28-year-old Joel Peterson since late October this year.In his seventh season dairy farming, Joel exemplifies how ability and passion for the life of a farmer has cut a solid career path from dairy assistant to 3IC to 2IC to manager.
Joel says achieving a solid placing in the Dairy Industry Awards a few years ago opened doors for him and during a farm discussion group on a Pamu farm he was attracted to the spirit and team morale of the operation.
“Luckily enough, there was a 3IC role going at Pamu’s Ruapehu farm which is part of the Moutua complex. “I successfully applied and did a season there before stepping up to a 2IC role on Egmont at the start of the 2018 season.”When Egmont’s manager moved into the manager’s role at Ruapehu, Joel put his hat in the ring, taking his next step in farm management.
“While I’ve only been in the role for a short time, the beauty is that I’ve been on the farm for 18 months and know it like the back of my hand.“I was well prepared for the role because the previous manager was very good with staff development and opened my eyes to new ways of doing things.”
Working in an industry challenged by weather, early starts and long days, financial pressures and public opinion, it is the farmer’s passion for the work that invariably shines through which Joel has in spades.“Farming is about the lifestyle for me – it’s definitely not just a job. I’ve always loved being outside and just being on the land.
“It’s exciting and there’s a new challenge every day, always something different to learn – this season is totally different to last season and you’re always on your toes thinking ahead.”Living on the farm with his wife Latoya and their three young children, Joel says it’s also a great environment to raise a family.
While just new in the role, Joel is already thinking ahead as to how he can continue to improve the performance of Egmont Dairy and is targeting profitability, production, health and safety and staff development as key goals.With a production target of 246,000kgMS, Joel is confident he and his team will hit the 255,000kgMS mark.
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