Water consents behind farm expansion

Water consents behind farm expansion
Hawke’s bay farmer Paul Franklin

Hawkes Bay farmer Paul Franklin says he is rationalising his business with the recent purchase of a 550ha dairy unit and adjoining 150ha runoff at Tikokino.
It’s about ten minutes from his two other dairy farms at Springhill – a 517ha and a 508ha unit both milking 1400 cows each Paul plans to milk 1500 cows through the 70 bail rotary shed on the Tikokino farm when he takes it over on 1 May and will be able to share equipment and staff between the three dairy farms.
Paul acknowledges it marks a considerable expansion of his business and he’ll employ nearly 30 staff across the units and each farm will be run by a manager.
Paul will oversee the overall business and he estimates the farms will produce a total of around 1.7 million kilograms of milk solids.
Water was a big factor in the purchase – the Tikokino farm has long term consents for underground extraction and eight centre pivots.
Managing the risks of uncertain water supply is essential when farming in this region, he says. Paul has been on a mission to secure water on his other two farms which saw him install a 500,000 cubic metre dam on his 508ha unit.
It’s given security of supply when he gets cut off from his water intake from the Waipawa River which runs alongside the farms.
He has two consents triggered by water fl owing at 3400 litres/second and 3600 litres/second. It was one year when the water fl ow dropped below these rates for three and half months that prompted him to build the dam.
When the dam is full it covers 7ha and stores enough water to last up to 10 weeks. Not surpisingly the dam has gained a lot of interest from other farmers but it is a case of a number of items lining up for it to work, says Paul.
“You need a good site so it stacks up engineering-wise, a catchment area for natural fill or a source of water to pump to it and suitable clay material.”
But when it works it really works – Paul estimates the economic benefits will pay back the system in just three years.
For example last season he was down to “just a puddle” of water at the bottom of the dam when rain fell. The dam saved his bacon through the dry spell.

Water consents behind farm expansion
Foundations go down for a new feed pad on Paul Franklin’s 517ha dairy unit at Springhill.

Since then a great season has meant he hasn’t needed to pump from the dam again. While he acknowledges it doesn’t give him complete security it goes a long way towards it.
Paul is in the process of building a feedpad on the 517ha unit and has plans to build one on the new farm. The Springhill farms are supported by a 200ha and 75ha runoff block.
Paul plans to sell another dairy farm he owns at Eketahuna as part of the process to rationalise his business.
This property is 230ha (190ha effective) milking 550 cows and Paul says it would be an ideal purchase for someone starting out.
The unit is on once a day making it easy to manage and produces 180,000-185,000 kilograms of milk solids. With no immediate plans for further expansion Paul says: “If I can get the three farms performing as I want them to I’ll be happy. There’s still room for improvement.”
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