With the development of two new farms underway, production levels for the Ngāi Tahu Farming operations are set to rise significantly.
The three existing Te Whenua Hou farms are expected to produce 1.5 million kilograms of milk solids in the season from 1 June 2013 to 31 May 2014. With farms 4 and 14 due to go into production in June 2014, the total production for the five farms from 1 June 2014 to 31 May 2015, is expected to rise to 2.2 million kilograms of milk solids.
In addition, farms 4 and 14 will employ eight new families – four on each farm – bringing total farming staff to 24. A total of 2,100 new cows will also be brought into operation.
Glen Clayton, Development Manager, Ngāi Tahu Farming says farm development will be steady for the next ten years, as all twenty planned farms come on stream. As Eyrewell Forest trees are harvested, Ngāi Tahu Farming will take over the land and begin development in stages.
Clayton says each farm takes around twelve months to complete from green fields to pasture.
“We’ve been working for around six months clearing the land and burning off. One of our biggest challenges is around burning as we can only burn at certain times of the year because of fire risk – usually April to October,” he says.
Farms 4 and 14 are at the same stage of development, with ground being prepared and levelled ready for infrastructure construction. Dairy sheds, fencing, stock water and irrigation, tracks and lanes, effluent systems, farm sheds and housing for new families will be built over the coming months, so both farms can begin production on June 1, 2014. Farm 4 will have 180 effective hectares (under irrigation); farm 14 will have 280 effective hectares and farm 15 will have 300 effective hectares. Farm 15 is expected to go into production on June 1, 2015.
Clayton says the development of the first farms has helped the team refine their processes and he expects progress to speed up as a result.
“We’ve refined things like ground preparation as we’ve gone along. Our purchase of a giant stick rake for instance, has revolutionised our processes and we’re now spending a lot more time levelling the land.
“Ngāi Tahu Farming has also set up its own contracting team, which has given us more freedom as we move forward.”
By the time all twenty farms have been developed, it is estimated over 100 new people will have been employed.